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A SHEFFIELD-based charity and the Odeon cinema chain are launching the first UK-wide Autism Friendly Films event to raise awareness of the sensory differences experienced by people with learning disabilities and autism.

A special national screening of new Jim Carrey release Mr Popper’s Penguins will be taking place next Thursday (August 11) at 11am in 40 cinemas including the Odeon Sheffield on Arundel Gate.

Dimensions, a leading specialist not-for-profit provider of support for people with autism and/ or learning disabilities in England and Wales, has joined forces with Europe’s largest cinema group in a unique partnership which will mean that people who can sometimes be excluded from the traditional cinema experience (because they may find the lights and volume difficult to manage) will be able to watch the film in an environment conducive to their needs.

Dimensions have been supporting people in Sheffield since 1995 and provide 24-hour support for more than 70 people with learning disabilities and/or autism, many of whom have complex needs. There are four residential houses and eight group living houses and Dimensions support eight people in their own homes in the Sheffield area.

At the screening lights will be left on low, the sound will be turned down and people will be free to move around the cinema and make noise as they feel comfortable. If successful, it is hoped this will be the first of many autism-friendly screenings of different films in the future.

For some time the Showroom in Sheffield has been running a similar initiative, Kic Start, low sensory impact screenings of children’s films. The latest takes place on Sunday at 1pm with the wildlife film, One Life.

Movie Warp factor

SHEFFIELD’S pioneering digital film studio Warp X continues to lead the way, with two of its films, Kill List and Tyrannosaur, showing at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival in September, having previously attracted critical acclaim at other international festivals over the summer.

Both features were made in the region in 2010 with funding and support from Screen Yorkshire and are set for cinematic release in the UK this autumn.

Ben Wheatley’s horror Kill List had had its world premiere at SXSW in Austin, Texas, in March followed by a European Premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

Filmed at locations across Yorkshire in 2010 including Leeds, Wakefield, Sheffield and in North Lincolnshire, Kill List will be released at cinemas in the UK on September 2.

Meanwhile, Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur has taken two top awards; The Cinevision Award for Best International Debut at the Munich Film Festival and Best Writer/Director Award at the Nantucket Film Festival, Massachusetts. Filmed in Leeds and Wakefield last year, the hard-hitting drama starring Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan is set for theatrical release in October.

Hugo Heppell, head of production at Screen Yorkshire, said: “The continued acclaim for Ben Wheatley’s Kill List and Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur demonstrates the value of Screen Yorkshire’s long-term investment in Warp X and shows that Yorkshire can deliver low-budget feature films that impress and compete on a world stage.”