In 2017, American journalist Jackie Spinner took her sons back to Morocco, the country where they were born. She adopted the boys when they were infants. Both were later diagnosed with autism. She wanted to find out what might have happened if they had grown up in Morocco. So she found families with autistic children. She realized they shared the same hope and fear. How do you teach your children to survive with you?
Don't Forget Me follows three Moroccan families with autistic children to explore how they are educated in a country with virtually no disability rights outside of vague protections granted in the constitution. Momo, 11, goes to school, but his family must pay. Twins Taha and Hamza, 7, are separated every morning. Their family can only afford one aide, so Hamza attends public school, and his brother stays at home with his mother. Othmane, 5, goes to a private school on a scholarship. His family also pays for the aide who stays at his side. He rarely participates in the classroom instruction.
Initial funding for the film was provided through grants from Columbia College Chicago and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. But additional funds are needed to finish editing and to support the marketing (website hosting, promotional materials, hiring autistic consultants to review the film and offer feedback).
The 28-minute film is in Arabic and subtitled in English for a U.S. audience and Amazigh for a Moroccan audience.
The film team is made up almost entirely of young emerging filmmakers from Morocco. The editor is Erin Turney, based in Chicago, a recent documentary film graduate of Columbia College Chicago who participated in the Sahara Lab a documentary lab in Morocco that was started by Columbia College Chicago emeritus Don Smith and Moroccan filmmaker Hakim Belabbes. We have a deal with Exceptional Minds studio (that employs young adults on the spectrum) to create the visual effects for the film.
Any money raised above the goal will be donated to the Color of Autism Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit that supports and educates African-American families with autistic children. Our goal is to raise awareness and deliver a universal message about the importance of investing in children with autism, including access to school, therapy and other support.
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