‘Dina’ is a non-fiction, feature length documentary about a love story, which, at its core is just like any other. Yet despite belonging to the romantic comedy genre, the film features central two characters who, because of their neurodiversity, belong to a group often underrepresented when it comes to mainstream media. That’s because Dina and Scott, the film’s love struck couple, are both on the autistic spectrum.
As we continue to share content related to our current Heady Mix collection, Dazzling Colours of Calm – stories by and about those with autism, we wanted to ensure that we are addressing stereotypes and contributing to dispelling sweeping generalisations related to the underrepresented group. Because the sad reality is, many of the underrepresented groups Heady Mix showcases, are often to subject to unrepresentative portrayals by mainstream media. So, since the film Dina is related to love and companionship – it felt appropriate to draw attention to other works of film, fiction or television that although much more widely consumed, are much less representative and diverse in how they present or relate to those on the autistic spectrum.
You see in mainstream culture, we are perhaps much more likely to see shows like the Undateables depict the love between an autistic couple, than a body of work that reflects real romance between two people.
These are shows that actively pitch so-called ‘normal’ love against other types of companionship. Not only is this harmful to those who only see their reflection as marginalised by society, but it’s also harmful to the rest of society – who end up understanding neurologically diverse people through a thwarted and misconstrued lens.
Depictions that polarise one type of person against another, calling one normal and the other, well – ‘other’ are enormously damaging. They flatten an experience into a one-dimensional stereotype and they also make distinct gradations, in what is better and what is worse. In creating something that showcases one type of love and romance to be different to another, ultimately one is positioned as accepted and therefore desired, and the other is considered outside and therefore unwanted, and at worst – irrelevant.
To us, love is always a celebration, the coming together of two people to share a life is an incredibly happy thing. Films that champion diversity such as Dina, showcase that despite the nuances in behaviour or attitudes, the love shared between Dina and Scott is founded in shared interests, humour and a deep care for one another.
All the same foundations as any love, yet often the focus in much of mainstream media is on how those who belong to underrepresented groups, such as those on the autistic spectrum, may struggle to find love – rather than what happens when it’s found.
Just like the stories featured in our collection Dazzling Colours of Calm, the film Dina tells of an experience that a neurologically typical audience can recognise as both different and the same. With warmth and inclusion, the filmmakers depict Dina and Scott’s autistic tendencies only as personality traits that make them their own people – the same way you or I might have certain habits or characteristics. What they so brilliantly avoid doing is presenting their autism as a barrier to the human experience, or love, or companionship. Instead, autism facilitates love – it brings two people together, rather than prohibiting a relationship. And that, we think – is the kind of inclusive, all-encompassing love that we want to see more of.
It’s same, same but different. Just like we all are.
About the filmmakers
A Moxie Pictures presentation of an El Peligro production, in association with Cinereach, Impact Partners, Killer Films.
Producers: Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles. Executive producers: Stephanie Choate, Dan Levinson, Robert Fernandez, Christine Vachon. Co-producers: Duncan Way, Louis Le Bayon, Adam Uhl, David Hinojosa.
Directors: Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles