JAPAN PRIZE 2006 : Program Details

Runners-upList of Entry
Program Division  /  Youth Education
The Minister of  Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize
Program Title: The Boy Inside
Organization: MSK Productions Inc.
Country: Canada
Adam is a 12-year-old who has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. This documentary about Adam and his father, mother, and elder sister was produced by his mother, Marianne, who also appears in and narrates the program.
Adam, not good at reading people's feelings, cannot communicate well with them. Classmates criticize him as he "interrupts people in conversations" or "sometimes cries and gets angry when he doesn't get things his way." Often being ignored and bullied, Adam says, "Its not that I dislike school, but I don't have anything to look forward to." He had to leave his previous school because a classmate put a knife to his neck.
Adam confesses he feels awful as he stole things and lied and his parents are shocked to learn about his anti-social behavior. Phone calls from school reporting Adam's trouble with his schoolmates have become almost a daily routine. Feeling they are on the verge of a crisis, his parents send Adam to foster care for a while. For his father, it is hard to think about his son being in the care of the state.
Seeking help, Marianne and Adam visit Chicago to attend a conference on autism, but they hear only discouraging stories. A mother of two autistic children says through tears, "It's really hard when you see your children rejected."
Adam says, "For some people the bad times far outnumber the good time. That's my problem...", but he graduates Grade 7, and is delighted at the news that a technical immersion program will eventually offer him a place. He also goes to a dance and dances his heart out. Marianne says, "But for now I'll enjoy the moment - it's a place Adam lives everyday."
Jury Comment
The Boy Inside is a powerful film that aims to create greater awareness of autism spectrum disorder, a disability effecting children all over the world.  It's a deeply personal story told directly to the audience by a boy and his mother--the mother, trying to save her son from a painful life, and the boy trying to save himself.
The jury was amazed by the rawness and honesty of the boy, Adam, and his family, who gave the audience complete access to their lives, their pain, their struggles and mini-victories.  As a result, we were all able to connect emotionally to this story.  Although the film was about this very specific disorder, it raised universal issues that effect many children, like bullies and in-tolerance for differences, first kisses, and annoying big sisters.
The Boy Inside will surely serve as a learning tool to promote tolerance of difference and appreciation of diversity.
Producer's Comment
Marianne Kaplan
President of MSK Productions Inc.

Winning the Youth Education Prize was the cherry (blossom) on top of a truly amazing week in Japan. It is wonderful for myself, Adam, and Andrew Johnson, our commissioning editor at CBC Newsworld in Canada to be acknowledged in this way by a jury of international broadcast professionals. As gratifying for me as winning the award were the heartfelt comments from many delegates who told me how moved they were by The Boy Inside . That tells me that the issues that our film addresses are universal and transformative. My intention with this film was to create a compelling story and educate people about Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism that is being diagnosed more frequently all over the world.  Because I am in the film and the story is such a personal one, it feels especially validating to receive the jury and the audience choice award for this work. It was truly a sensational week watching and discussing educational programming, meeting colleagues from around the world, making new friends and being part of that lavish award show and reception. And on top of it all meeting the Crown Prince.  Thank you to NHK. I hope to be back.