USA – 2009 – 93 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY MICHEL O. SCOTT
How far would you travel to heal someone you love? An intensely personal yet epic spiritual journey, THE HORSE BOY follows one Texas couple and their autistic son as they trek on horseback through Outer Mongolia in a desperate attempt to treat his condition with shamanic healing. When two-year-old Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson, a writer and former horse trainer, and his wife Kristin Neff, a psychology professor, sought the best possible medical care for their son — but traditional therapies had little effect. Then they discovered that Rowan has a profound affinity for animals — particularly horses — and the family set off on a quest for a possible cure….
THE HORSE BOY is part travel adventure, part insight into shamanic tradition and part intimate look at the autistic mind. In telling one family’s extraordinary story, the film gives voice to the thousands who display amazing courage and creativity everyday in the battle against this mysterious and heartbreaking epidemic. The filmic companion to Isaacson’s best-selling book of the same name and a festival favorite, this ravishing documentary odyssey gives insight into how, in life’s darkest moments, one can find the gateway to joy and wonder.
THE HORSE BOY: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son, a book about the Isaacsons' experience, written by Rupert Isaacson, was released by Little Brown and Company on April 14, 2009.
Poster photos by O. Rufus Lovett and Justin Hennard.
The shamans’ rituals are shown without comment, and autism gets only a brief explanation from a trio of experts, but they’ve much more to say in the extras, including some remarkable observations on certain shamanistic qualities."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"Not to give away anything of what happened in the land of the reindeer people, but it’s not every movie that shows scenes of people dancing for joy because a child has pooped in a field. "
- VANCOUVER SUN
"a portrait of a family fighting to find itself again—even if it means fleeing to the ends of the Earth."
- THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT
"Six-year-old Rowan Isaacson is the autistic son of two very loving parents whose lives have, since his diagnosis, been devoted to finding a lasting treatment for his devastating disorder. Like in many cases of autism, Rowan has shown a resistance to all kinds of Western therapies and medications. But his gentle and immediate relationship with animals inspires his father Rupert to take his son on a Mongolian trek on horseback to seek the help of curing shamans."
- VUE WEEKLY
"The Horse Boy is a strange and highly personal journey, combining new-age philosophy with the day-to-day realities of dysfunction. It's a family adventure that few will ever take."
- OTTAWA CITIZEN
"The Horse Boy documents a family's unusual journey with autism"
- THE STRAND
"the film demonstrates the value of taking a fresh approach to a stubbornly mysterious condition."
- THE TORONTO STAR
"a powerful reminder to all parents that a child's unique strengths and personality may suggest the best path toward healing."
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"a fascinating documentary"
- TORONTO SUN
"the cinematography astonishes"
"The Horse Boy will surely enlighten audiences if not fully answer the elusive questions that plagued the Isaacson family in the first place."
"the most inspiring thing in the film is the staggering love these parents show for their boy."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"a powerful and personal saga with a provocative ending"
- EYE WEEKLY
"The Horse Boy is a strange and highly personal journey, combining new-age philosophy with the day-to-day realities of dysfunction. It's a family adventure that few families will ever take."
"Rupert Isaacson, a human rights worker, author and former professional horse trainer, and Kristin Neff, a psychology professor, sought out the best medical care when their son Rowan, was diagnosed autism. However, orthodox therapies had little effect on Rowan."
"Watch Michel Orion Scott’s painfully personal, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring, and always beautiful documentary to find out. It’s a beautiful odyssey, both enlightening and transformative."
- SCATHING REVIEWS
"Parents travel world to find autism help for boy, 5"
- PARENT CENTRAL, THE TORONTO STAR