Oscar-winning director, actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck joins Oscar–winning Pixar Animation Studios’ filmmakers Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera in receiving special honors at the 1st Annual AUTFEST International Film Festival presented by The Autism Society on April 22-23, 2017 at the AMC Orange 30 in Orange, CA.

The announcement was made by Matthew Asner, VP of Development for The Autism Society.

Said Scott Badesch, President of Autism Society of America: “The first Annual AutFest International Film Festival is a perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the role film is now playing in autism awareness. We are proud to honor outstanding filmmakers Ben Affleck, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, for their cinematic portrayals of the complexity of human emotions, as we can see with our two spotlighted films The Accountant and Inside Out.”

Celebrating autism awareness “from spectrum to screen,” AutFest is the first film festival solely dedicated to an autism audience and filmmakers. Its mission is to further advance the well-being of all with an autism diagnosis, as well as to educate the nation about autism and the important need to fully respect and value each person with autism. AutFest wishes to celebrate films that promote autism awareness and support autistic filmmakers and artists that have chosen film as their profession.

“For more than eight years we’ve been honored to partner with the Autism Society through our regular screenings of AMC Sensory Friendly Films, which allows families with special needs to see films in a welcoming environment,” said Nikkole Denson-Randolph, Vice President, Alternative & Special Content, AMC Theatres. “We’re thrilled to continue that partnership by serving as the host of this important, impactful event.”

A number of special awards will be handed out at a special ceremony at the conclusion of AutFest including Best Film, Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Actor, Best Actress as well as an Audience Award. A Best Autistic Filmmaker Award will be presented to an autistic filmmaker.

AutFest is also inviting student graphic designers to create a festival poster that depicts the festival’s theme “from spectrum to screen.” Winning posters will be used as the festival’s official poster as well as for official materials such as t-shirts and postcards. The contest is hosted by We Are Lions, a marketplace for products created and designed by individuals with disabilities. More details about the poster contest can be found here

AutFest Honorary Committee Members include seven-time Emmy winner and autism advocate Ed Asner, actress Kristen Bell (House of Lies), actor Dax Shepard (CHIPS), Emmy-winning actress comedian Sarah Silverman, Golden Globe-nominated actor Matthew Modine (Stranger Things), Emmy-nominated actor Gary Cole (Veep), Autism Speaks co-founder Bob Wright, The Suzanne Wright Foundation president Liz Feld, Warner Bros. president and CCO Peter Roth and Autism Society’s VP of Development Matt Asner.

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