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Groundbreaking Documentary Deej! to be Shown at UT Sept. 25

Published: September 14, 2018
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The screening, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Reeves Theater on the second floor of the Vaughn Center and will be followed by a presentation by the producer and writer of the documentary, DJ Savarese. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

The University of Tampa will screen the Peabody Award–winning documentary Deej!, about a nonspeaking young man’s dreams of autistic civil rights, on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The screening, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in the Reeves Theater on the second floor of the Vaughn Center and will be followed by a presentation by the producer and writer of the documentary, DJ Savarese. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Filmed over six years, Deej! follows Savarese as he makes his way through high school and dreams of college, confronting the terrors of his past, obstacles to inclusion and the sometimes-paralyzing beauty of his own senses.

In this first-of-its kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic, director Robert Rooy and Savarese share editorial control as they navigate the challenges of representing autism. Deej!, the result of this often difficult partnership, is a story told largely from the inside, by DJ — not by his parents or autism experts or even the camera. At its core, Deej! reflects the level of participation that disability rights advocates insist upon: “Nothing about us without us.”

Savarese was the first nonspeaking autistic to be admitted to Oberlin College, where he graduated in May 2017. Currently a 2017 Open Society Foundations Youth Exchange/Human Rights Initiative Fellow, he works to make literacy-based education, communication and inclusive lives a reality for all nonspeaking people.

The event is sponsored by the UT Department of Communication. For more information, contact Alisha Menzies, assistant professor of communication, at amezies@ut.edu or (813) 257-6317.