What a great idea for a film! I applaud Netflix for continuing to put the spotlight on our autism community.
In this new short documentary film “The Speed Cubers,” we get in an inside look into the competitive world of solving Rubik’s Cubes. The documentary mainly revolves around 17-year-old Max Park from California, who is on the autism spectrum, and Feliks Zemdegs from Australia. Both of these individuals are previous World Champion Cubers and the documentary looks primarily at them gearing up for the 2019 Rubik’s Cubes World Championship.
Max has social skill challenges but was able to build on that early on as a child, bonding with his parents by playing with Rubik’s cubes. Today, Max has taken that interest and turned it into an amazing ability. Dr. Temple Grandin, one of my dear friends and one of the leading autism self-advocates in the world says, “Interests and talents can turn into careers.” Max is a true testament to that quote. Here are a few reasons I really enjoyed this documentary.
Relatability. I could see a part of myself in Max when it came to social skill challenges. Growing up on the autism spectrum social skills were a huge challenge for me as well, and understanding things like sarcasm. Making friendships was also a struggle, so it made me so happy when he was able to bond with Felix and form a friendship with him.
Representation. Another reason I enjoyed seeing this documentary was my work as an autism entertainment consultant on “Joyful Noise,” “Jane Wants a Boyfriend” (which looks at a young woman with autism trying to find love in NYC) and HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher” to bring a realistic portrayal of autism to our entertainment industry. As a consultant, I discuss the importance of representation. When we put a spotlight on the autism community like in this documentary, we also educate our society while breaking down barriers.
Discussing rejection. Max’s dad discusses being concerned about how Max may deal with rejection if he loses the world championship. I really appreciated the producers focusing on this topic because it’s important for our community to understand that rejection happens to everyone at one point. I’ve had several rejections in my life, and it was a nice reminder here to show the world that rejection doesn’t make you less.
There were a few minutes at the beginning I wasn’t a huge fan of, such as when the parents were introducing Max receiving his diagnosis as a child, but overall, I thought it was extremely well done. Have you watched the film yet? Let me know what you think!