Wretches & Jabberers: Changing Minds About Autism

Two men embarked on a journey to put a new face on autism—one with humor and soul and empathy.


Filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg went along for the ride.

Her new documentary, “Wretches and Jabberers” will be shown in Chicago on Thursday, May 12, as part of a nationwide event: 100 Cities. One Night for Autism.


Wurzburg won an Academy Award for a previous film about disability, “Educating Peter,” and she talked with Make It Better about “Wretches & Jabberers.”

MIB: How did you find Larry and Tracy? (The two men the film follows on their international journey.)

GW: About three years ago, they were presenting at a conference. They were funny, engaging and they wanted to take their message to a bigger audience. I loved their vision and humor. And since a good documentary needs strong characters, I traveled to Vermont and spent some time getting to know each of them.

MIB: Why is the film so important?

GW: Society judges and segments people with autism, saying that they have a lack of empathy because they don’t make eye contact. But in the film, you see Larry and Tracy not making eye contact, but then typing comments filled with empathy and humor. The film is a journey into a world that most people never get to see.

MIB: If someone doesn’t have a link to a person with autism, will they still enjoy the film?

GW: Absolutely! It’s a fun film to watch—a global buddy road trip. Plus there’s an incredible soundtrack with original music by performed by Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Scarlett Johannson and others.

I recently went to a screening with a group of 100 Palestinians who are in the U.S. on an educational program, and they totally identified with the characters and their struggle for acceptance.

MIB: And if you know someone with autism?

I’ve talked to parents who after watching this film have revisited how they see their children. It makes you realize that people with disabilities are more like you than not.

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