Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) has made autism awareness a part of its corporate social responsibility for the past few years, and this month it continues that cause by presenting its latest campaign dubbed “We Are All Special”. On 24 September, French film The Specials kicks off the campaign, leading into a charity bazaar that will take place on 27 September and 4 October.
This year’s campaign aims to break down the stigma attached to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which studies in Asia, Europe and North America have shown to affect between 1% and 2% of the population. The severity of the disorder and its effects on cognition are unique for each individual, ranging from gifted to severely impaired – some need constant care, while others are more independent.
Due to a lack of education on the subject and numerous misconceptions surrounding the disorder, individuals with ASD often suffer from stigmatism and are hence marginalised, and even discriminated against. Many educational institutions turn away these individuals, never even giving them a chance.
Raising awareness on the subject and increasing the understanding of the disorder will help break down the stigma and increase inclusivity.
The Specials was originally planned for an April release in conjunction with World Autism Awareness month, but will now air across 23 GCS cinemas nationwide this month. Directed by French masters Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, a duo which rose to prominence with films such as Those Happy Days and The Intouchables, the story immerses audiences in the lives of Bruno (Vincent Cassel) and Malik (Reda Kateb) – two close friends who helm organisations that help troubled teenagers and autistic children respectively.
Bruno’s shelter takes only the most complex of ASD cases, those that have been through the system and flushed out the other end because hope has abandoned them. Meanwhile, Malik trains young people brought up in problematic neighbourhoods to supervise and care for these children.
Sobering on all accounts, the film weaves together tales of heart-warming friendships tested on many levels, tugging at heartstrings one moment and making you chuckle the next. Stars Cassel and Kateb shine in their roles, and with strong performances by supporting cast members, there’s something for everyone in this film.
Tickets to The Specials are RM15, and RM1 from each ticket will be channeled to selected autism organisations.
As part of the campaign, GSC will also be organising a charity bazaar as well as an exhibition of artwork by autistic Malaysian artists at Aurum Theatre, The Gardens Mall. These works will be available for purchase if one happens to grab your fancy, and will be on show from 24 September to 7 October.
The bazaar will be hold on two consecutive weekends and will let the public explore and buy from a showcase of merchandise, products, foodstuff and other handmade goodies by children and young adults from the Autism Café Project (ACP). Entry to the bazaar is free of charge!
Make sure to visit gsc.com to find out showtimes for The Specials which opens on 24 September.