PHOENIX — There is some exciting news Thursday morning for a southeast Phoenix family.
A movie about their lives has been added to the list of films that will be shown April at the Phoenix Film Festival, which takes place at Harkins Theatres at Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101.
“Be with Me” is the story of Lori and Jim Cairns and their son, J.R.
J.R. was 2 when Lori took him to the doctor in 1996.
“She told me to go home and make sure that he liked his room, because he was going to go in and never come out,” Lori said. “She said he would probably be in an institution by the time he was 17.”
J.R. was diagnosed as autistic and mentally retarded. After their initial shock, Lori and Jim decided to fight for their son. Lori began to use what was then a new therapeutic approach called applied behavioral analysis. She brought experts to Arizona to work with J.R.
The results have been nothing short of a miracle.
J.R. is now 20, and is living a normal life. He graduated with honors from high school. He is living on his own and attending college while also working at a local restaurant. An avid golfer, J.R. is working this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale.
One in 88 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. Dealing with the affliction can devastate families, but Lori hopes that J.R.’s story and the documentary will give people hope.
Michael Terrill is the film’s writer, director and producer.
“It’s a story of family and therapists coming together, and they had the best outcome possible,” he said. “If you met him today, you would never know that he had that diagnosis.”
The film took two years and $60,000 to make. It is already making an impact with audiences.
“Be with Me” won the best drama documentary (short) award when it debuted in October at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival. Two showings in the past two weeks have drawn big crowds to the Harkins Valley Art in Tempe. The Cairns’ story is also set to be screened at a film festival in Richmond, Va. Michael and Lori will head to Greece next month, where it will be shown at yet another film festival.
Terrill is pretty proud of J.R., and of the movie.
“This is not your typical autism documentary,” said Terrill. “You will come in. You will cry. But you will leave the theater happy. That’s what we want for everyone.”
The following video is a trailer for the documentary:
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon