'Mind My Mind' review: The Oscar nominated animation on autism
By Kerrie Portman
The Oscars recently announced that Floor Adam’s animation on autism, ‘Mind My Mind’, has been shortlisted for the 92nd Academy Awards in the Animated Short Film category.
‘Mind My Mind’ is a mid-length animation by Floor Adams, about Chris, a boy with autism, struggling to understand the peculiar social situation of falling in love. The 30-minute animation has a very linear method of storytelling, sweetly designed visual aesthetic and calming sound design. Alongside the literal scenes of the characters and scenery, there are cutaways to the more metaphorical imagery of a little person living in the protagonists’ head. This serves to communicate to the audience how Chris is thinking and experiencing the situation. I think this technique is most effectively used when conveying Chris’ intense love of German dive bombers and his scripts for different social situations. I particularly liked the latter and the playfulness of the literal scripts in the office-like filing room and the term ‘scripted sentences’ sometimes used in conjunction with people with autism.
‘Mind My Mind’ was initially released in March of this year, although is still circulating festivals. I was lucky enough to see it as part of Cinanima, an international animation festival in Portugal. Although the protagonist’s autism is only directly named as a throw away comment by his older brother, I immediately felt understood by Adams’ animation. I felt like I was watching the inside of my own brain on the cinema screen. I appreciated that Chris’ diagnosis wasn’t continuously brought up and that when Gwen, the story’s love interest, understood him it was because they genuinely connected and communicated with each other.
Autism representation in the media
Autism representation in the media is often overlooked or overly stereotyped (if I had a pound for every time someone responded to finding out I have autism with asking me if I’m anything like the character in ‘Rain Man’...!) When speaking of the representation of women in the media Gaye Tuchman (1981) stated women were “symbolically annihilated” though lack of accurate reflection and diversity, which I think can also be said about autism.
Those lucky enough to see relatable representations constantly in the media may not understand the crucial role of this, however sadly a lot of autistic people are told we can’t achieve anything due to our autism. I was always told this by everyone around me growing up, which led them to not giving me the opportunity to learn. They gave up on me before I had a chance, so I gave up on me too. I very clearly remember the first time I saw, or was even aware of, an autistic person attending university and how inspired that made me feel. Thankfully in the three years since that day we have more autism heroes but there can never be too many role models in the world!
Of course, every person with autism will have a different experience, so it’s impossible to create anything that captures everyone’s experience of autism but, for me, ‘Mind My Mind’ is the closest any piece of media has ever come. As someone with autism who has just started her undergraduate degree in Animation, I would be honoured to ever create an animation that communicates my autism as beautifully as ‘Mind My Mind’ has done.
About the author
Kerrie Portman is an autistic adult who is in her first year studying animation at university.