Wednesday, May 20, 2009 – 7:30 PM
Belgium/Netherlands 2007. Director: Nic Balthazar Cast: Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, Titus De Voogdt, Maarten Claeyssens
Sixteen-year-old Ben (Greg Timmermans) rarely speaks and is completely ill at ease; he’s an easy mark for his bullying classmates, who call him “Frankenstein” and “the Martian.” Ben’s exhausted single mother, who’s been trying for years to get Ben some help, doesn’t see much hope in the latest diagnosis: Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism that makes “normal” social interaction difficult. At home, Ben retreats into the online role-playing game ArchLord, where his avatar Ben X, a heroic knight, has achieved exalted Level-80 status. Inspired by Scarlite, a kindred spirit he encounters online, Ben devises a plan to change his life and get rid of his tormentors once and for all…Nic Balthazar’s startling debut feature presents a more life-affirming outcome to suicidal crisis than the horribly true story which inspired it: a Belgian teen with Asperger’s driven to suicide by constant bullying. “A galvanizing portrait of autism and its profound impact…Ben X boldly melds virtual reality with live-action vérité style and docudrama to create what may be a new film grammar” (Denis Seguin, Screen International). “The best movie I’ve seen about teen angst since Donnie Darko…Its blurred life-into-videogame fantasy sequences make it seem doubly topical” (Brian Miller, Village Voice). Colour, 35mm, in Dutch with English subtitles. 93 mins.
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Vikram Dua and Ms Teresa Triggiano (Harris).
Dr. Vikram Dua is co-director of the B.C. Autism Assessment Network and the Provincial Autism Resource Centre, and served as the primary researcher and writer for the B.C. Ministry of Health policy paper “Standards and Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Assessment of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” His clinical practice specializes in children and youth with developmental disabilities.
Ms Teresa Triggiano (Harris) — As a family and youth counsellor and workshop educator since 1988, Teresa has presented in-school workshops to more than 36,000 B.C. students on the topics of suicide prevention, peer victimization, bullying, conflict resolution, body image and self-esteem. Over the past seven years, she ahs facilitated her popular anti-bullying program “Stand By Me” to more than 17,000 B.C. elementary school students.
Co-sponsored by ACT – Autism Community Training Society and the Kelty Resource Centre.
Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.