Music & Clowns (United Kingdom, 7 min 23 sec)

Directed by: Alex Widdowson

Despite being close to nonverbal my brother is funny, charming and perceptive. I discuss with my parents what it was like raising a child with Down syndrome. Our speculations about his inner life reveal as much about our own subjectivity as they do his. There is a critical under representation of the ordinary and diverse lives of people with Down syndrome. As prenatal testing advances I feel an urgency to provide insight for people making a life changing decision regarding whether or not to raise a child with Down syndrome.

Review:

“Music & Clowns” is a short film challenging the critical under representation of the ordinary and diverse lives of people with Down syndrome. Through a unique artistic style and careful observation, Alex Widdowson has a discussion with his own parents about what it’s like to raise Jamie, who was born with Down syndrome and currently lives in his parents’ home. The audience learns about Jamie’s funny, charming and perceptive inner life visually through lighthearted animation, which helps set a bubbly and free spirited mood to the film.

Widdowson’s mission is to “provide insight for people making a life changing decision regarding whether or not to raise a child with Down syndrome as prenatal testing advances”. Personal accounts and old family videos piece together a story about a young man who brings joy to his family through humor and genuine compassion. Widdowson also discusses some of the challenges that face Jamie’s family. Jamie’s father opens up about the future, adulthood, upbringing, and the admirable amount of patience and emotional understanding that comes with raising a son with Down syndrome.

The pace of the film is steady, akin to a children’s cartoon, which brings the audience in further. Colorful animation, which includes Jamie’s own drawings, makes for a heart-warming glimpse into Jamie’s relationship with his family and the world around him. Widdowson does a fantastic job of portraying Jamie’s world in a respectful and deeply personal manner.