7.5/10
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3 user 4 critic

Up Syndrome (2000)

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University of Texas student Duane Graves chronicles his charismatic childhood chum Rene Moreno, a San Antonio native with Down Syndrome, in this playful, stirring, remarkably unique portrait documentary.

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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Rene Moreno ...
Himself
Bo Rouck ...
Hotdog Man
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University of Texas student Duane Graves chronicles his charismatic childhood chum Rene Moreno, a San Antonio native with Down Syndrome, in this playful, stirring, remarkably unique portrait documentary.

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14 April 2009 (USA)  »

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The film was selected to join the permanent archives of the United States Library of Congress in 2009. See more »

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References Stand by Me (1986) See more »

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Up Syndrome is one of the best (and funniest) documentaries I've seen in a long time.
14 November 2000 | by (M. Sanderson, U.K.) – See all my reviews

Up Syndrome is one of the best (and funniest) documentaries I've seen in a long time. The subject fascinated me, and boy did it deliver. I want to applaud the hilarious and playful way director Duane Graves tackled this subject matter. So many people who haven't grown up with mentally handicapped people become very sober when you try to talk about it. The truth is some of the most funny, creative, and life-affirming people are mentally handicapped. Graves has captured that amazingly well.

I think the cutting style on the project is brilliant. The speed, the audacity of it all. Very courageous. The overall construction of the piece did wonders in hitting home all of the inner themes. Everything, no matter how insignificant, had a payoff. Yet what I saw as a deliberate structure was camouflaged in a totally free-moving, stream of consciousness style. Graves' narrative storytelling skills are fantastic.

One of his strongest techniques is to take a serious moment and undercut it with humor. For example, Rene is talking about gun safety and how you shouldn't shoot people. Then he's shooting violently into the air. I love that. On a bench he talks about the loss of his job. A very sad moment. Then he farts. That stuff is just like life. The end was quite moving for me. Rene again talks to the camera about the dangers of smoking. "You are alive." He says. The message echoes his moving speech about death, but also echoes the gun speech. Only this time he doesn't undercut himself. The message is clear. Appreciate life. Embrace what you've got. Be happy. Rene is!

Up Syndrome moved me to tears. My sister, who was mentally handicapped, died in April of 1999. Up Syndrome was a reminder of the struggles she went through and the intense happiness she felt. I wish I'd given her the chance to drive. She always wanted to.

S. Rice


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