Nationally, disparities in the evaluation and diagnosis of ASD across racial backgrounds continue to persist. Children with ASD from Black and Hispanic communities were less likely to receive a professional evaluation before 36 months.
Recent studies in New Jersey performed by the CDC indicate an ASD diagnosis is 4X more common among boys than girls.
HANDS TO THE SKY is a poignant gritty coming-of-age drama following an autistic man, EUGENE ABERNATHY (25), as he battles a new world without his mother guiding him. Eugene is thrust into a new reality full of the responsibilities that come with urban-living in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Eugene must combat social stigmas while fighting to keep wh0 he knows to be his younger brother THOMAS ABERNATHY (11) out of foster care.
But, when his delinquent cousin, DEREK ABERNATHY (25), is unable to obtain legal employment Thomas is removed from the home and placed in the care of local church pioneers, REV. FRANK CARTER (60’s) and his wife, CONNIE CARTER (60’s). All seems well until Eugene’s case worker reveals to him one of many secrets his mother took to her grave.
Eugene attempts to change himself in order to prove that he can successfully care for his family, but faking neuro-typical behaviors only exacerbates his frustrations.
EUGENE'S INNER Dialogue
Surrealistic shots will capture heightened moments of stimuli and stress motivated by the conditions Eugene feels in his world.
I AM SAM (budget - $22m/gross profit worldwide - $97M)
Precious (Budget -$10M/gross profit worldwide - $63M)
Moonlight (Budget -$4M/ gross profit worldwide - $65M)
KIMBERLY TOWNES, DIRECTOR/ CO-WRITER
Kimberly studied Production Design at AFI and Directing at UCLA. At UCLA, she received funding from from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to direct a short documentary, Planting Hope, which highlights the philanthropic work of Pearl Fryar. This project was later recognized by Youtube, the Independent Film Channel and Sundance. In 2009 she received a thesis production grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her UCLA thesis film, ZERO, was a finalist in the 2013 ABFF/ HBO competition.
Essence Magazine’s online series, Black Girl Magic, where she wrote and directed an inspirational segment about an autistic teen with aspirations of becoming a pilot. Kimberly has also received accolades and funding The Congressional Black Caucus, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora, Black Women in Film and Aspire TV. Kimberly has worked in web design and post production for CBS NEWS online, BET.com, and HGTV.com and HBO's TrueBlood.
KIRK MOORE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Kirk Moore’s journey as a television writer and producer began while working as assistant. That opportunity would lead to jobs in reality television. In 2014, he became NBC Writers on the Verge fellow and later began writing on the acclaimed drama, AMERICAN CRIME, where he was nominated for a WGA, NAACP Image, and Black Reel awards. He later joined the writing staff of teen drama, 13 REASONS WHY, where he worked for 2 seasons as Executive Story Editor. He’s currently a Co-Producer on MARVEL’S RUNAWAY. Oh… Kirk also enjoys dogs, football, Judge Judy and Real Housewives--Atlanta and Beverly Hills only.
MAYA EMELLE, PRODUCER
Emelle has produced three independent feature films; including the SXSW award-winning coming-of-age narrative JINN, directed by Nijla Mu’min released theatrically by MGM Orion Classics in November of 2018 and currently streaming on Amazon; SOLACE which won the award for Best Ensemble at the Los Angeles Film Festival, 2018 directed by Tchaiko Omawale premiering on SHOWTIME (May, 2019); and the upcoming film WORKINGMAN directed by Bob Jury which premiered at the SBIFF, 2019. Since, Emelle has created HigherGround Content, a dynamic production house created for independent artist dedicated to creating unapologetic content that gives marginalized voices a distinguished presence in mainstream media.
THEODORE PERKINS, WRITER/PRODUCER
Theo is the Founder of the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE) and Snikrep Productions. EYTE has recently partnered with HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility division to expose high school students in New Jersey to the theater and filmmaking process. His producing credits include the short film “Train(ed),” the documentary “Damn Wonderful,” directed by Nelsan Ellis (“True Blood” “Get on Up”); and the new web series “Jackson & Lewis.”
LYDIA TEFFERA, CO-WRITER
Lydia Teffera is a first generation Ethiopian-American writer from the Washington, DC area. Lydia began her career in creative advertising in Austin, TX. Simultaneously, she was a contributing writer for several online publications. In her spare time she wrote her first feature screenplay. Having fallen in love with screenwriting, Lydia packed up and moved to Los Angeles.
After working in the art department on major music videos and commercials, Lydia branched into television, landing her first job on the DC Comics show GOTHAM. After a year she moved over to CBS’s darling GOD FRIENDED ME, and wrote her first produced episode for the series. When she’s not writing and working on personal projects, Lydia is actively collaborating with other writers and writers’ groups.
Created with images by Kyle Sterk - "untitled image" • marcus_hofmann - "Sanierter Plattenbau" • chuttersnap - "untitled image" • Mulderphoto - "Old industrial area at night. Dirty pools on cracked asphalt of damaged road"