Free screening of award-winning documentary “Life, Animated” at Concord High School’s Beickman Performing Arts Center

“Life, Animated” tells the story of Owen Suskind, a thriving 3-year-old boy who suddenly and inexplicably went silent. Owen was diagnosed with autism, and for years he was unable to connect with other people or convey his thoughts, feelings or desires.

Suskind’s family was told he may never speak again. But he immersed himself in the world of Disney animated films, where he discovered new ways to interact and re-connect with the world around him.

“Life, Animated” weaves classic Disney sequences with footage from Owen’s own life to show how characters like Simba, Jafar and Ariel helped Suskind understand his feelings and interpret reality.

The film has been picking up awards at film festivals across the country. “Life, Animated” won the Directing Award for a U.S. documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and is on the shortlist to win a 2017 Academy Award for best feature documentary.

“Life, Animated” is directed by the Academy-Award winning Roger Ross Williams, who follows Suskind as he attempts to live alone for the first time as a young adult and learns to navigate his first romantic relationship.

“This is a powerful film that will resonate with anyone who knows and loves someone with special needs,” said Jessica Koscher, ADEC’s chief development officer. “It explores themes that many of our families know all too well, from the confusion after the first diagnosis to the fear and excitement when young adult children venture out into the world on their own.”

Koscher said she is confident even those with no connection to the disability community will enjoy the film, which also tells a story about how art — or, in this case, Disney animated movies — can take on a deeper meaning and serve as a lifeline for individuals.

Registration is not required to attend the screening of “Life, Animated.” For more information, visit adecinc.com/LifeAnimated.

ADEC’s screening of “Life, Animated” is just one of many special events planned for 2017 to celebrate the nonprofit’s 65th anniversary of serving people with disabilities in northern Indiana. ADEC’s annual Ride-A-Bike, set for May 20, will feature a special 65-mile anniversary route and a birthday bash is set for October.

ADEC was founded in 1952 by a group of parents came together and decided they wanted something more, something different for their children with disabilities. The agency will be spending 2017 reflecting on its lifetime of service — 65 years of helping people with disabilities lead lives full of choice and possibility — while also looking ahead at the years to come.