Reviews

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Los Angeles Daily News (2011)

“Meet the 'rock stars' of autism rights”  

“Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher are on their way to becoming the rock stars of autism rights self-advocacy. Oscar-winning filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg certainly thought so the first time she heard the charismatic and passionate duo (who communicate by typing on a talking computer) speak at a conference in Los Angeles three years ago. As she remembers it, they were riffing about creating a sensation on the world stage. "They wanted T-shirts, they wanted hats, but they weren't going to burn their communication devices like Jimi Hendrix did," she says, chuckling at the recollection. "They were just so funny and so full of life. I thought, `You know, there's something here…"'

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The Hartford Courant (April 2011)

“…Intelligence, compassion and a sense of fun…”

“When Tracy Thresher was a teenager, he felt he was 'trapped in a body that didn't work right,' and that he would never be able to let anybody know because, having autisum, he could not talk. When he was 23, Thresher learned to type. In so doing, he found his voice and wasted no time in "saying" the most important thing first: "I told my mother I loved her. She cried…"

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USA Today (April 2011)

Film gives voice to autism's silent minority

“Part advocacy film, part road trip/buddy movie, Wretches & Jabberers follows Tracy Thresher, 43, and Larry Bissonnette, 53, as they travel from their hometowns in Vermont to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland to meet other advocates and educators, and shed light on the inner lives of autistic people with little or no speech. Along the way there is humor, sadness, insight and even a hint of romance…”

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The Wall Street Journal (April 2011)

An Autism Documentary Aims to Go Beyond ‘Rain Man’

“Thirty years ago, doctors constantly misdiagnosed autistic children, which resulted in autistics like Vermont natives Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette being institutionalized and shunned from society. A couple of years ago, the friends embarked on an international mission to educate the world on autism and to prove just because they can’t communicate fully it doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent…”

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Parade Magazine (April 2011)

A New Film Explodes Myths About Autism

“The new documentary Wretches & Jabberers follows the journey of two autistic men—Larry Bissonnette, 52, an artist; Tracy Thresher, 42, an advocate—as they travel the world, attempt to banish the myths about autism, and reveal its global face. PARADE spoke to the pair behind the film—Academy-Award-winning director/producer Gerry Wurzburg and co-producer Douglas Biklen, who is also the dean of the School of Education at Syracuse University and author of Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone, to find out why and how they made it…”

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MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Interview (2011)

Film examines ‘lost generation’ with autism

“April is Autism Awareness Month, and Academy Award-winning director Gerardine Wurzburg joins ‘Morning Joe’ to discuss her new film “Wretches & Jabberers”, which follows two men with autism to change attitudes about the disability…”

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“The Takeaway” WNYC 93.9 Radio Interview (April 2011)
The Great International Autism Road Trip

"Wretches and Jabberers is a buddy movie, a road trip movie and a moving adventure. But this new film is different than your typical mainstream fare. The documentary stars two autistic friends and advocates who do most of their communicating through typing. The story follows Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, as well as their assistants Pascal Cheng and Harvey Lavoy, as they travel around the world, meet other autistic people, and advocate for autism rights….”

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The Hollywood Reporter (March 2011)

“…Show rather than tell, entertain rather than preach…”

“Gerardine Wurzburg’s Wretches & Jabberers may be the best film you’ll see on a subject you probably want to avoid — although you’d be wrong about that. Yes, it’s a documentary about autism but it’s also nearly perfect in doing what an advocacy doc should do: show rather than tell, entertain rather than preach. If this is your first exposure to the world of autism, it will be an eye opener…”

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Vermont Public Radio News Interview (March 2011)

Documentary Film On Autism Garners National Attention

A new documentary film sheds fresh light on living with autism. "Wretches and Jabberers" follows two autistic men from Central Vermont, Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher. Because of their limited speech, Larry and Tracy faced a future of social isolation. But their lives changed dramatically when they learned to communicate by typing.  In fact, we learn that they have a rather poetic relationship with language.

Listen to Full Interview [9:20]

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The Associated Press (March 2011)
For Those With Autism, Documentary Offers New Hope

“When Tracy Thresher has something to say, he uses his right index finger - and a special computer that gives voice to what he types. Hunched over the device, he begins. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap, tap....”

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Variety Magazine (March 2011)
The ability to mix humor and emotion is the strong suit of this upbeat, music-saturated docu…”

“Try to ignore the man behind the curtain," cracks one of the principals in "Wretches & Jabberers," a global road movie about a pair of autistic men and their campaign to alter attitudes about their condition. No one expects a "Wizard of Oz" joke in an autism documentary, nor certainly one made poignant: The men harbor keen intelligence behind their autistic "curtain." But the ability to mix humor and emotion is the strong suit of this upbeat, music-saturated docu, which is likely to receive the kind of edu-circuit exposure at which it seems aimed…”

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Newsweek Magazine (January 2011)
Autism Finds Its Voice

“Four new friends sit around a table at an outdoor café in Helsinki, typing on handheld devices. Shyly, Tracy sends Henna a message asking if she might like to visit him. Avoiding eye contact, Henna types back that she will need to ask her mother. The scene could be that of any group of teenagers, awkward and bashful, more comfortable texting than engaging in face-to-face conversation. The difference is that the typists range from young adults to middle-aged. And all of them are autistic….”

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Seven Days Newspaper (January 2011)
“An epic journey…”

“J. Ralph isn’t a household name, but you’ve likely heard his music. The New York-based composer has scored commercials for major brands such as Nike, Porsche and Volkswagen. He has also penned music for Oscar- winning documentaries, including Man on Wire and The Cove. His latest project is a score and an album of original songs for the recent documentary Wretches & Jabberers, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg. In the film, Vermonters and disability advocates Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette embark on an epic journey to Sri Lanka, Japan and Finland to “change attitudes about disability and intelligence...”

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Variety Magazine (November 2010)
“Generation- and genre-spanning companion soundtrack…”

“In the ongoing renaissance of innovative music scoring for documentaries, composer- songwriter J. Ralph, who scored such recent docs as "The Cove" and "Man on Wire" and made song contributions to "Crazy Love," has certainly played a part. But his scoring work for recently released autism docu "Wretches and Jabberers" has taken on a strange life of its own, birthing a after the fact, all composed with a recording philosophy that closely mirrors the film's subject…”

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Planet of the Blind Blog (October 2010)
Wretches and Jabberers
By Stephen Kuusisto
Author, “Planet of the Blind”

“I am lucky today to be in Burlington, VT for the premiere of Gerry Wurzburg's new film: "Wretches and Jabberers"--a film that follows the travels of two non-speaking autistic men from Vermont as they circle the globe to meet other autistic people who communicate by typing…”

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Vermont Quarterly (Fall 2010)
Film Takes Autism On The Road

Wretches and Jabberers finds its story not only in the lives of two Vermont men with autism, Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, but also in their 2009 cross-cultural journey when they traveled with their assistants, Pascal Cheng and Harvey Lavoy, to meet other autistic individuals, educators, and advocates in Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland. The film is a logical extension from Wurzburg's past work, which includes Educating Peter, an Academy AwardÒ nominated film about a boy with Down syndrome in a public school classroom, and Autism is a World, which follows a young woman with autism as she goes to college…”

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