International Film Festival Manhattan Autumn 2021

Documentary Short Films 1

Expired October 18, 2021 8:01 AM
Already unlocked? for access
This virtual screening is eligible for audience awards! Unlock it to cast your vote.

Our lives were profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but the autism community was hit especially hard. With changes to supports, routines, communication, and much more, the autism community had to find new ways to persevere.

Thriving on the Spectrum is a documentary about the Denver-Metro area’s autism community in the face of this global challenge. Award-winning autistic filmmaker Scott Klumb jumped into this project with a sense of urgency and desire to capture the experience and the closeness of this community. Through intimate interviews with autistic individuals, teachers, employers, and professionals, the complex emotional fabric of this marginalized population is clearly articulated.

This film employs a variety of visual and storytelling approaches that express the multifaceted needs, interests, and efforts of a tight-knit and dedicated human family. Thriving on the Spectrum is a film about the autistic community of which the filmmaker himself is a part. Scott’s genuine connection to the subject presents an authentic account that is at once vulnerable and resilient.

Director Statement

I directed this film, Thriving on the Spectrum, while experiencing the struggles of the pandemic as an autistic person first hand. I had plans to go to film festivals for my last documentary until everything was cancelled in person. At first I really struggled with losing the momentum of the success of the film and I needed to find new ways to shift my mood. While filmmaking is a career for me, it is first and foremost a passion that keeps me engaged with the world. I have found ways to communicate through film that I can’t otherwise do as an autistic person. After figuring out what to do with my time, I decided that I would document the experience that was unfolding around me.

There are so many approaches to take when telling a story like this but it is important that I tell a story that really connects an audience with the subject. I wanted to create a feeling of personal connection to the individuals featured in the film. I made the most of my personal access to these subjects and managed to capture honest and candid moments in the interviews.

While directing this film, I wanted to touch viewers with the range of emotions that the subjects shared with me. The success of Thriving on the Spectrum, I decided, depended on the degree of empathy I could create.

One of the other aspects of this film is the visual experience through cinematography and editing. I love to challenge myself in this regard. For me that process has to be an exploration because the work feels flat when I keep to a formula.

I am so personally proud of this film because it turned out better than I could’ve ever dreamt of and it showcases my growth as a filmmaker. This feeling brings me happiness and purpose. It is inspiring me to connect deeper with my community and to continue progressing as a filmmaker.


  • Year
  • Runtime
    24 mins 25 secs
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Scott Klumb
  • Screenwriter
    Scott Klumb, Michael Velasco
  • Cast
    Scott Klumb,