For many, the game of pinball is just another distraction, but for some, it’s a way of life. Enter Robert Emilio Gagno, an autistic man who has dedicated most of his life to pinball and mastering Wizard Mode, the hidden level only unlocked when a player completes a series of lightening-speed challenges. The new documentary “Wizard Mode” follows Robert on his quest to become a world pinball champion as well as his struggles to shed his youth and gain his independence. Watch an exclusive clip from the film below.
The film is directed by Jeff Petry and Nathan Drillot, who said that they wanted to make a film with a positive portrayal of a person on the autism spectrum. “What we learned from Robert was more than anything he wanted people to engage with him as a unique individual first,” the filmmakers said in a statement. “He described how often when meeting a new person he felt as though their preconditioned ideas around autism would affect his ability to make a genuine first impression. ‘I don’t want to just be autism forever’ is a line that Robert has said to us numerous times during the filming of ‘Wizard Mode.’ Our hope is that by sharing his life with a wider audience that Robert’s experiences will help to change preconceived notions that exist around autism.”
“Wizard Mode” premiered at the Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival this past May. It will be available on VOD and on iTunes this Friday, October 21.