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Influence

A film involving the first date for two teenagers with Autism who communicate through the help of their parents.

Influence is an independent film by Michael Bergmann.

First dates are always delicate, but for two teenagers with Autism, who communicate mainly by spelling with the help of their parents, it’s particularly tricky. The parents have their own agendas, nostalgias and attractions… how much of what the teenagers are saying to each other can they trust? What do they really want, and how can they tell each other? “Our thoughts, are they our own?”

INFLUENCE has had great success at Film Festivals

Cast & Creative

JAMES KACEY (Francis) is trained with Alan Gordon Studios, Michael Luggio at NY Theatre Academy and Alison McBryde. Recent roles include The Artist’s Assistant, and the award winning To Redemption. James has acquired international acclaim for his starring role in the Korean film, Pudditorium. His television roles include, James Dean, in Mysteries at the Museum, Scorned, and a brief appearance in Law & Order. James’ stage work includes, Brilliant Traces, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, The Seagull, and House of Madame Clicot. He has also played a major character in the award winning video of the year, Justin Timberlake’s, Mirrors. James has found working with Michael Bergmann on Influence one of his most challenging and rewarding roles to date.

RACHEL ZEIGER-HAAG (Laura) Credits include the Spike Lee produced feature Mania Days, the pilot Mozart in the Jungle, created by Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, and the short Any Day Now, written and directed by Albert Uria. You can catch her in the feature film Cold in July directed by Jim Mickle, now playing at IFC. She holds a BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

JOE ROLAND (Gabriel) is an actor and playwright. Films include Charlie Wilson’s War, Sex and Violence, and Welcome to Me. He has appeared on Broadway in The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols, and Off-Broadway in his own play, On the Line, which was produced by Mr. Nichols. On the Line won the 2013 Cleveland Critics Circle award for best production. His plays have been read at the Public Theater, Lincoln Center, and Manhattan Theater Club. Mr. Roland teaches playwriting to working men and women through The Working Theater’s TheaterWorks! program

KIM CRISTO (Stephanie) previously worked with Michael Bergmann as Loretta in his feature film Tied to a Chair. Her prior film and TV credits include Out There, Frogs for Snakes, Freak Talks About Sex and roles on Hope & Faith, All My Children and Another World. Kim studied acting with Kevin O’Connor, and Shakespeare with Claire Bloom. Kim is also an autism advocate and mother of two. Her eldest daughter was diagnosed with autism at eighteen months.

SHERYL LOUISE MOLLER (Helen) has previously worked with Michael Bergmann in the film La Primavera. Other films include the Academy Award nominated The Last Day of June directed by Kalina Ivanov, Sex and Violence directed by John Zibell, Trial By Jury directed by Lori Huck, and Welcome To Dopeland. She is a founding member of Common Ground Theater Company and the Water Theater Company. With the Water Theater Company, Sheryl performed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Pilgrims directed by Shira Piven, which was produced by Mike Nichols at the Tribeca Playhouse and Still Waiting For Lefty. Among Sheryl’s favorites with Common Ground were The Julia Project and Motherland. Other theater credits include Footfalls/Not I directed by Andre Gregory, Juno and the Paycock at the Blackstone Theater in Chicago, and Sister Strata at the Ohio Theater.

MICHAEL BERGMANN (Writer, Director, Editor) is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He makes films that are “sexy, surreal and entirely original,” (Sam Maser, Program director of the Hamptons International Film festival.) Bergmann’s first full-length feature film, Milk and Money (1995), “a treat to see,” according to the New York Times, featured performances by Calista Flockhart, Margaret Colin, Marin Hinkle, Olympia Dukakis and Dina Merrill. Trifling With Fate with Bridget Moynahan followed in 2000 (“unafraid to be both smart and silly,” – Lisa Nesselson, Variety), followed by The Reality Trap (2003) and Tied to a Chair (2011) (“One of the more exotic and enticing new independent films” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker). He and his son invented iMean, an inexpensive iPad app that helps autistic and deaf people, as well as stroke victims, spell out and remember their thoughts.

Photos

Videos

An Interview with the Director

An Interview with award-winning actress Rachel Zeiger-Haag

INFLUENCE had its first Private Screening on Sunday February 8th at the SVA Theatre.

A Taste of INFLUENCE

Awards


INFLUENCE made its WORLD PREMIERE at the Worldfest Film Festival in Houston, TX

Winner of the Platinum Award for Best Feature Film, Docudrama Category

INFLUENCE was presented at the International Film Festival of World Cinema in Nice, France

Winner of Best Cinematography in a Feature Film

Nominated for Best Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Editing of a Feature Film

Winner of the Merit Award for Awareness at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, October 2016

Press

America Magazine
Freeing the Sacred Self

BlogTalkRadio
Radio Guests: Gayle Waxenberg (The Telling Company) & Michael Bergman (“INFLUENCE”)

Is the Most Common Therapy for Autism Cruel?

By Elizabeth Devita-Raeburn When Lisa Quinones-Fontanez’s son Norrin was diagnosed with autism at age 2, she and her husband did what most parents in their position do—they scrambled to form a plan to help their child. Ultimately, they followed the experts’ advice. They put Norrin in a school that used applied behavioral analysis, or ABA,…

For Children with Autism, Multiple Languages May Be a Boon

By Ann Griswold Oscar, 6, sits at the family dinner table and endures the loneliest hour of his day. The room bustles with activity: Oscar’s sister passes plates and doles out broccoli florets. His father and uncle exchange playful banter. Oscar’s mother emerges from the kitchen carrying a platter of carved meat; a cousin pulls up…

My Autistic Son's Biggest Concern When Taking His Medication

By Ann H You never know what’s going to bring that massive grin to your face. You know, the one where you can’t stop even when you try, where you think if you don’t stop, your cheeks might squash your eyes closed. The best ones are those that catch you off-guard. That’s exactly what happened…

Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama

By Laura McKenna How do you join a conversation at a middle-school lunch table? What do you say when someone says hi to you in the hallway and you don’t know her name? How do you delicately correct a member of your lab group in science without calling him stupid? Is it appropriate to tell…

What Prodigies Could Teach Us About Autism

By Kimberly Stephans and Joanne Ruthsatz   MANY parents remember a moment when their toddler astounded them. Maybe he outpaced his playgroup at mastering a song. Maybe she knew an esoteric fact about outer space. They might quietly wonder: Is my child a prodigy? Probably not. A prodigy is defined as a preadolescent child who performs…

About That Study Linking Antidepressants To Autism…

By Sarah Jacoby   A new study linking the use of antidepressants in pregnancy to childhood autism has headlines flying. But this is one that could use a healthy dose of skepticism. The study, published online this week inJAMA Pediatrics, looked at data from nearly 145,500 Canadian babies born between 1998 and 2009. The researchers…

Clinical Trial Will Test if Google Glass Can Help Kids with Autism

By Cade Metz IN HIS FIRST year at Stanford, Catalin Voss helped build an app for Google Glass that could recognize emotions. If you put on Google’s computerized eyewear and looked at others in front of you, the software could tell you—based on their facial expressions—if they were happy, sad, surprised, or disgusted. This face-and-eye-tracking…

This May Explain the Rise in Autism Diagnoses

1/05/2015 By Alexandra Sifferlin The number of children diagnosed with autism has ballooned in recent years, but the reason for the increase is hotly debated. Some argue autism results when rare gene mutations are triggered by environmental factors like pollution, certain chemicals or even parental age. Others say it’s due to the fact that we’ve…

By Noon They'd Both Be in Heaven

By Hanna Rosin October 19, 2014 KELLI STAPLETON, whose teenage daughter was autistic and prone to violent rages, had come to fear for her life. So she made a decision that perhaps only she could justify. Just before Labor Day 2013, Issy was coming home. Her mother, Kelli, had ordered a big chocolate cake—Issy’s favorite.…

Autistic Kids May Benefit From This Kind of Parent-Led Therapy

Mandy Oaklander @mandyoaklander Oct. 27, 2014 Parents can learn how to give effective therapy to their children with autism, a new study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry finds. Researchers at Stanford University looked at a type of therapy called Pivotal Response Training (PRT), which is one the of the handful of treatments…

For a donation of $25 of more to The Telling Company, we will happily ship you a DVD copy of Influence.