The documentary "The Horse Boy" (***) OPENS 11/6 IN BALTIMORE

I screened this film at this year's AFI SILVERDOCS Film Festival last June. It opens at The Charles for what will probably be a limited run. Here is a repeat of my review:

There always seem to be stories in the news about the lengths people take to try and find a cure for an illness when conventional medicine fails. "The Horse Boy" (***-94 minutes), based on Rupert's book, is one of those stories-and the illness is autism. The parents of autistic child Rowin are Rupert and Kristin Isaacson who are an engaging couple, he from Liverpool, she from Texas where the couple met and married. Their 2 1/2 year old son was first diagnosed with the mysterious ailment which the medical community has no consensus as to cause and treatment. They sought out all of the available resources but saw no sustaining progress. Currently he was a social worker who had professionally trained horses while Kristin was a psychology professor. Rupert had also written about the African Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert and he had witnessed several shamanic ceremonies. When he saw how Rowan had calmly taken to Rupert's horses and how much joy he exhibited when riding horseback, he got the idea that maybe a trip to Mongolia to seek out a shaman or 2 might be the key to unlocking the autistic mystery and help cure his now 5- year-old son-something conventional doctor's in the States couldn't accomplish. To his classically schooled wife this idea seemed preposterous. It took a ton of convincing on Rupert's part but off they went with fellow Texan and novice film maker Michel Orion Scott to record the 4-week journey. And what a journey it was! The film shows progress and setbacks everyone encountered along the way and, in the end, there, indeed, seemed to be major changes in Rowin. Questions are raised such as whether these positive changes were due to the spiritual healings of Shaman, the affects of undertaking such incredible journey never experienced by the child, his interactions with children along the way. Combinations of these or other reasons, or were they just imaginary short-term results? Whatever the reason or reasons, the visual and spiritual journey is amazing and well worth the trip. The stunning cinematography is utterly captivating as most viewers will enter a world far removed from their usual habitat & experience. At the Q & A the film maker stated that Rowin is making progress but still suffers from the malady. However, both parents believe that the trip was life-changing for all involved. The film has been picked up by Zeitgeist Films with a September 11th limited U.S. release date.

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