THE SPIRAL

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(feature film in pre-production 2021)

Director: Steven Eastwood

Producer: Kate Wilson

Co-Creatives: The Neurocultures Collective

Funded by:

Wellcome Trust

BFI Doc Society

 

The Spiral is a feature length art film that enters the possibilities of a world informed by autistic experience. Co-created by the Neurocultures Collective and Steven Eastwood, the film is a mix of documentary, magical realism, sensory ethnography, wildlife film, with shades of folk horror.

 

The film follows several drifting characters, including a non-speaking child, a young office worker, a film club host, sleepers, and even a stray dog, as they move through places and events. Sometimes the camera wanders off, without these characters as a guide.

 

The Spiral features a cast of autistic non-actors, people playing themselves, people playing other people, and people playing dragons. As a defining principle The Spiral steers clear of simulating disability and autistic experience (something autistic activists have fought against). This is why there is no central protagonist, and there are no emoting close-up faces. The film presents a world where details and relations replace lazy stories and inaccurate stereotypes, focusing on the patterns of empathy that exist between people, animals, objects, and buildings. Each of the main sequences in the film is nested in other sequences, like an endless series of easter eggs - the very activity of easter egg hunting for background details is an arguably neurodiverse pursuit within a neurotypical framework. Nesting and pattern recognition gives meaning to the image of the spiral. Through the underlying pattern of the swirling form of the spiral itself, scenes literally loop into and through each other.

The film shows how society restricts bodies it does not understand - bodies that desire to stim and flow, unbound by social norms. It presents a world where details and relations replace lazy stories and inaccurate stereotypes. It is this world, if we think it differently...