On a scorching hot day in Princeton, NJ, we were glad for the cool interior of the Garden Theatre as Andy Kavulich, Learning Ally's NJ Board chair and father of four children with dyslexia, introduced a rough cut screening of Dislecksia the Movie. The film's aim – to raise awareness of what dyslexia is and how it causes the brain to work and learn differently – is as compelling as the remarkable people it features.
This three-hour event on July 21 was part of a series of audience participation screenings that director Harvey Hubbell V
and his team have been conducting in various cities to show a rough cut of the film with focus group audiences, whose critiques and input will shape the film's final cut prior to pursuing wider distribution. Audience participation screenings have taken place in Gainesville and Tallahasse, Florida; Princeton and Ocean City, New Jersey; and another rough cut screening will take place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the film, old footage of Hubbell as a happy, lively, funny child is shown in stark contrast to the journey he shares of his years as a student with dyslexia, as teachers repeatedly comment on his lack of effort and limited capabilities. Hope for change in the education system comes from interviews with brain scientists and educators, who dispel myths about dyslexia and discuss how dyslexia can be looked at as a learning difference rather than a disability. The movie connects creativity and out-of-the box thinking with the success of business entrepreneurs who have dyslexia. Actors Billy Bob Thornton (pictured left) and Joe P
antoliano also talk of their experiences having dyslexia and the link to their creative success. A photo of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue pops up occasionally, reminding us of one of the greatest dyslexic minds. Hopefully, the focus group questionnaires we completed at the end of the showing will help make this already interesting, educational and moving documentary even more impactful. Its aim to raise awareness of what dyslexia is, how it causes the brain to work differently and compels people to learn differently, is as exceptional as many of the people Hubbell interviews. -Julie Haggith