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March 15, 2013

A Vermonter With Autism Debuts His Autobiographical Film, "I Am in Here"


618Mark-Emily-2In April 2012, Seven Days told the story of Mark Utter ("Utterly Mark: A Vermonter with autism makes his inner voice heard through film"). Utter is a 48-year-old Colchester resident who was born with a neurological condition that left him unable to communicate verbally with others.

For years, Utter's family assumed he was developmentally disabled. It wasn't until he was an adult and began using an assisted-communication technique to express himself via a keyboard that people realized an intelligent, thinking and highly creative person was inside longing to get out.

Tomorrow, Utter’s inner voice will finally be heard by a larger audience. On Saturday, March 16, his autobiographical film, "I Am in Here," premieres at the Main Street Landing for the Performing Arts Film House in Burlington. Utter's day-in-the-life movie uses humor and animation, designed by him, to reveal his unique observations of the world and to highlight the contrasts between people’s perceptions of him and the man inside.

In advance of the screening, Utter explained, via his facilitated-communication partner and longtime collaborator Emily Anderson of VSA Vermont's Awareness Theatre Company, some of the challenges and rewards of completing this project. Because it can take Utter as long as 10 minutes to type just one sentence, we kept our questions brief:

SEVEN DAYS: So Mark, how do you feel about the final project?

MARK UTTER: I very much feel it is the movie I wanted to make.

SD: Did it fulfill all your aspirations?

MU: I am fulfilled partly but the real fulfillment will come tomorrow after the movie premieres and I start meeting more people. I have a lot to say about communication and this movie will serve as an introduction of my, until now, mainly unseen thoughts.

SD: What was the most difficult part of the process?

MU: It was raising money. We have managed to raise $45,000 and need $5000 more to achieve our goal. People can donate at VSA website. Aside from that, things fell into place. We had a great motto, “Loving it all into place,” that urged us forward when things were hard.

SD: What’s been the best part?

MU: I learned that I have found a perfect partner for getting my story out into the world. Emily Anderson rose to meet whatever challenge this wide project presented.

The screening and talkback with Mark Utter will take place on Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m., at the Main Street Landing for the Performing Arts Film House at Lake and College in Burlington. Free, but donations accepted. For more info or to schedule another screening, contact Emily Anderson at 802-655-4606 or [email protected]

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