A&E IndieFilms to Back Doc on Autistic Boy Who Loved Disney

Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams ("Music by Prudence") will direct the feature-length "Life, Animated," based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind.

A&E IndieFilms is teaming with Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams and Motto Pictures to produce the feature documentary Life, Animated.

Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, Life, Animated chronicles the story of Owen Suskind, his son with wife Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn't speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney animated movies and then turned them into a language to express love, pain and joy. In response, Owen’s family learned to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue.

The Suskind family story was the subject of a New York Times magazine piece, which became one of the most shared articles of the year.

"Life, Animated represents the culturally relevant, incredible storytelling that has been the lifeblood of A&E IndieFilms," said David McKillop, executive vp and general manager of A&E Network. "We are pleased to partner with Roger and Motto's Julie Goldman to bring this incredible story to the big screen."

Added Williams: "I'm honored to bring the Suskind family's touching story to life. Owen is a remarkable young man, and I hope his story will serve as an inspiration for us all."

Life, Animated is produced by A&E IndieFilms in association with Motto Pictures and Roger Ross Williams Productions. Goldman and Williams will produce. Molly Thompson, Bob DeBitetto and McKillop will executive produce for A&E IndieFilms.

"A&E IndieFilms' passion for character-driven stories and quality films makes them the ideal partner for this film," Motto Pictures' Goldman said. "We are thrilled to have this opportunity to share the Suskind's extraordinary journey."  

Williams won the 2010 Academy Award for his documentary short-subject film Music by Prudence. His latest feature film, God Loves Uganda, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was short-listed for a 2014 Academy Award. He currently serves on the alumni board of the Sundance Institute.

Goldman (The Kill Team) is a Sundance regular whose credits include Gideon's Army, God Loves Uganda and Buck.

A&E IndieFilms, the feature documentary production arm of A+E Studios, most recently produced Mike Myers' directorial debut, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com
Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27