“Everyone has an inner voice. I found a way to let mine out.” These are the words of Carly Fleischmann, a young woman living with autism. Though unable to speak, she found a way to communicate through typing on a computer. Even though autism is typically an affliction that keeps a person locked within themselves, Carly’s breakthrough has been hailed as something of a miracle. Most people tend not to understand what someone like Carly is going through, but the film Carly’s Cafe is meant to change all that. We spoke to director Miles Jay to find out more about this remarkable interactive film, which was recently nominated for a Webby.
“Autism has a strong stigma attached to it and is generally viewed in a very negative light,” Jay said. “I wanted to give the user an experience where they lost control of something they took for granted.” Shot in a muted light that places you inside the mind and body of someone living with autism, Jay achieves a sort of otherworldliness that emphasizes the world of a cafe slowly closing in around you. As you wring your hands, your mind focuses on the coffee being ground and brewed while also catching disapproving looks from both your family and people sitting nearby.
It’s disconcerting to watch, yet you can’t take your eyes away. Jay said, “I wanted the experience to feel as if she saw things in a more heightened way than everyone else, as if she was almost overdosing on the beautiful way she sees the world.” The same can be said for the film., which is beautiful all by itself and heightened by a reveal of the real Carly at the end. Watch below and, if you’re so inclined, please place your People’s Voice vote for it here.