Disabled boy & brother soar over NYC in moving short film from Montefiore Medical Center
Directed by the Oscar-winning Tom Hooper, ‘There’s Magic in All of Us’ tells the story of a child with a neurological condition who embarks on an enchanting journey after being inspired by a dog with a mobility aid.
Montefiore Medical Center, a hospital and academic medical center in New York City, has unveiled a heartwarming short exemplifying the transformative role technology plays in the lives of people with disabilities.
The five-minute film, titled ‘There’s Magic in All of Us,’ introduces viewers to Solo, a young boy with a neurological condition that affects his speech and mobility, and his younger, able-bodied brother, Henry. Solo grapples with the limitations imposed by his disability when Henry innocently asks him about his dreams of becoming a pilot. The question, though well-intentioned, leaves him with a heavy heart.
However, a serendipitous encounter changes everything. Through his window, Solo observes an older man strolling with a dachshund supported by a mobility aid. This simple yet profound sight fills Solo with joy, dispelling the isolation he often feels. Using Montefiore’s cutting-edge eye-tracking technology, Solo creates a beautiful drawing of the dog using only his eyes.
Later that evening, in a dream, the dachshund transforms into a giant balloon that takes Solo on a magical adventure through New York City. In his dream, Solo and his newfound canine friend rescue Henry from bullies, and the trio takes flight into the snowy skyline. Donning aviator caps and goggles, the brothers become pilot and co-pilot.
The film was directed by Tom Hooper, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker known for his previous work on romantic dramas including The King’s Speech (2010) and The Danish Girl (2015). Meanwhile, its musical score was crafted by Alexandre Desplat, an Academy Award-winning composer who has previously worked on projects with Wes Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow and Guillermo del Toro.
The eye-tracking technology portrayed in the film was developed by neurologists at Montefiore’s Einstein campus. According to the hospital, it has revolutionized communication for disabled individuals, allowing them to express their thoughts and understanding and thus, dispelled the misconception that their cognitive abilities are limited. In essence, it gives a voice to an estimated 4 million people in the US who face challenges with speaking.
Mark F Mehler, MD chair at The Saul R Korey Department of Neurology, Montefiore Einstein, commented: “When I first saw eye tracking, it was enchanting. In part because these kids are so misunderstood... almost like lost islands of internal thought. Seeing the level of joy that eye tracking brings out – and how it opens their world – is enchanting in a way few things are.”
The film was produced by Smuggler, a film, TV, commercial and music video production company, and ideated by Alto New York, an award-winning advertising agency.