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News: BEN AFFLECK & PIXAR Filmmakers to Be Honored at AUTFEST Film Festival
on Feb 14, 2017 at 3:02:09 pm

Presented by the Autism Society and AMC Theaters®, AutFest Celebrates “From Spectrum to Screen” April 22-23 in Orange County

(Los Angeles, CA--February 14, 2017) 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 at

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.

Two time Oscar-winning actor, producer and director Ben Affleck, gained fame when he and childhood friend Matt Damon won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting. He then starred in high-profile films including Armageddon, Shakespeare in Love, Pearl Harbor, Changing Lanes and The Sum of All Fears. Affleck received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Hollywoodland. Affleck directed and starred in Live By Night which was released last month, and appeared in The Accountant last year. He also took on the role of superhero in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the DC Comics ensemble Suicide Squad. Affleck’s work has earned him two Academy Awards®, three Golden Globes® and countless other awards. In addition to his successful film career, Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, an organization whose mission is to increase both the quality and number of investments for citizens of Eastern Congo.

Pete Docter is the Oscar-winning director/co-writer behind Pixar’s Inside Out, which was praised by both critics and members of the autism community. As a member of Pixar Animation Studio’s “Braintrust,” Docter has worked on films such as Up, Inside Out, Up, Wall-E, Toy Story and Monsters Inc., which has earned him two Academy Awards (for Up and Inside Out – Best Animated Feature) and eight total nominations.

Docter was one of the three key screenwriters behind the concept of Toy Story, and partially based the character of Buzz Lightyear on himself. He had a mirror on his desk and made faces with it as he conceptualized the character. He has been an integral part of some of Pixar's most seminal works, including Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life, all of which received critical acclaim and honors.

Jonas Rivera is the Oscar-winning producer behind Inside Out and Up and one of Pixar’s earliest employees. Rivera worked his way up from his 1994 internship to advanced production roles on nearly every subsequent Pixar film until the studio's Oscar-winning film Up. His Best Picture Academy Award nomination for Up made him the first Pixar Animation Studios producer ever to receive this honor.

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AutFest International Film Festival’s mission is to further advance the wellbeing of all with an autism diagnosis, as well as to educate our nation about autism and the important need to fully respect and value each person with autism. We wish to celebrate films that promote autism awareness and that have the power to enhance the lives of our community. We also wish to honor and support Autistic filmmakers and artists that have chosen film as their profession. For more information, visit or follow AutFest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Founded in 1965, the Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, and exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the autism spectrum, advocation for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education and research. The Society maintains a strong nationwide network of affiliates to provide support and grassroots advocacy at local, state and federal levels.

AMC is the largest movie exhibition company in the U.S., Europe and the world with approximately 900 theatres and more than 10,000 screens across the globe. AMC has propelled innovation in the exhibition industry by deploying more plush power-recliner seats, delivering enhanced food and beverage choices, generating greater guest engagement through its loyalty program, web site and smart phone apps, offering premium large format experiences and playing a wide variety of content including independent programming. AMC operates among the most productive theatres in the United States’ top markets, having the #1 or #2 market share positions in 22 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas of the United States, including the top three markets (NY, LA, Chicago). Through its Odeon subsidiary, AMC operates in seven European countries and is the #1 theatre chain in the UK & Ireland, Italy and Spain. For more information, go to


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