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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Francesco Bori Profile: Emotional Documentary is a Great Success

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

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fridAy


A documentary named "fridAy", which used 17 real autistic voices has helped many people understand people on the autism spectrum's perspectives of living with the condition. This documentary is the first non-profit feature film that has a filmmaker and the entire cast on the autism spectrum.


I had the pleasure to talk to Francesco Bori, 35, who released this documentary last year about his film and how the process went. Bori was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at 15.


Q & A


1. What inspired you to make this documentary?


a) I have lived conscious of my Asperger's for over 15 years, but hid it - I didn't understand it. I was ashamed. Eventually learning about other people proudly discussing their autism over only the past three years, triggered initially by Greta Thunberg's openness about Asperger's, I started becoming more open myself, but slowly.


b) For a long time, I believed a real film had to be shot on celluloid of HD quality. But when I saw "Life in a Day" 2010 documentary, made of submitted footage, quality restrictions were broken in favour of story and creativity.


c) When I learned that April is Autism Awareness Month - in light of pandemic restrictions, I realized I had the means to take advantage of it. A film made of submitted footage exploring a topic so stigmatized, yet so close. A platform for me to open up about my autism and to reach others similar to me. This became the concept of my film.


2. What impact has this documentary had on your target audiences?


I tried to make a film for all audiences, partly educational and partly comforting. I found that autistic audiences or people directly connected, find it very emotional. I find people less directly connected find it very interesting and appreciate the humor - it helps them learn more about this lesser-known and lesser understood condition. It has been overall very well received.


3. What especially stands out as positive with this whole documentary experience?


I originally didn’t want to appear in the film - partly to avoid bias. One of my crew members recommended I should, so I decided to do so partly to help myself through the whole process and self-heal, but also to contextualize my motives for making the film.


In light of the fact that it has been a difficult topic for me to discuss for so long, the fact that such confidence and humour emerges from several of the participants was surprising.


It has actually become more than just a film about autism, it's a film about each individual who appears in the film.


4. How did you get into filmmaking?

My solitary childhood in Italy and then England, filled with imagination inspired by many films I grew up watching, led me to make short experimental films in my teens. Making documentaries about grandparent war veterans cemented my interest in factual filmmaking into my 20s.


I have always found it the easiest way to communicate, indirectly with the audience, expressing myself fearlessly without concern for judgments.


5. What do you feel is the most important message this documentary gives?

It’s OK to be autistic. Autism can be amazing, and here is how you can understand us better. Each featured person is amazing, unique, humorous, and highly skilled in a range of ways - just ask us about it.

Francesco Bori
Francesco Bori (Photo credit: Francesco Bori)

6. What obstacles or setbacks did you experience while creating this documentary? Did the pandemic get in the way of doing things you wanted to do with it?

I had tried to reach out to a few other well-known autistic people. Most did not respond. I also tried really hard to display various forms of diversity. I managed to a degree. Again, many people rejected the opportunity.

I actually think the pandemic enabled me to make this film. I have reached people around the world to contribute via the internet. This would not have been possible without the restrictions.


7. What other types of films have you produced?

Many shorts, exploring world cultures. A mix of fact and fiction, mostly based on reality. My first award-winning film was “Sidetracked” in 2015, a fiction that explored mental health in the form of schizophrenia.


My first feature film was “Innerscape” in 2019, an art film filled with poetry from world contributors set to the visual of a sunset captured from Canada, Europe, and India.


My second feature was “Fir” in 2020, a fiction that explores themes of miscarriage, autism, and black lives matter. “fridAy” is my third feature film, my first full documentary.


8. What examples of positive feedback with this documentary have you received?

The official selection at the London Eco Film Festival in early 2022 individual web reviews include:

“I cried many times... hearing these thoughts and the reality of Autism filled me with much emotion.”

“The most humbling production I've ever watched...an eye-opener even for myself.”

“I had tears rolling down my cheeks after the first ten mins, because it is so authentic...I see parts of my son in every beautiful, BRILLIANT soul that is represented in this film.”


9. How did you reach out to the cast and get them together? Did you know them before the film?

I knew two of the featured participants personally, and through one of them, another came on board.


However, I started posting the proposal across social media and casting websites, connecting directly with people, which was more effective.


I do run a festival for underrepresented communities, of which ASD is a category, so I asked filmmakers who had submitted their works to me to partake.


There were many, many cold emails. I think it was a hard sell because visualizing the result was not easy for everyone. Once Temple Grandin came on board, I secured a good few more participants. That was very helpful.


10. What was your working relationship with Temple Grandin like?

Temple is lovely, very direct, and has a specific working structure. I approached her like everyone else, with a cold email. Her agent responded with a simple “Happy to do an interview”.


She prefers to speak on the phone to arrange things - she is not much of an email person. Once we worked out her availability, it became as simple as connecting to Zoom and asking questions.


She gave me much more than I could have asked for even if not all questions were directly answered. But questions are after all only a guide. She gave me a whole hour, which was special.


11. How did you come up with the name "fridAy"?


April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, coincided with Friday last year. The upper case A is for Autism Awareness April or Asperger's.


12. What awards has the film received?


There have been no major awards yet asides from a monthly recognition. This recognition was:


Winner of Outstanding Achievement Award at the DRUK International Film Festival 2021: Best Film on Disability Issue




1 Comment


gianlucatestore
Oct 20, 2023

Ciao Francesco, come stai?


My name is John Testore.

I m British-Italian and presently living in Japan with my Japanese wife.


Just found out about you and your work!


I m diagnosed with ASD/ADHD and currently working on my community site.

I need people like you and Cory!


How can we get in touch?


A presto

John

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