The Awesome and Absolutely True Adventures of the Autisarians of Philadelphia - OC87 Recovery Diaries

The Awesome and Absolutely True Adventures of the Autisarians of Philadelphia


“Our goal is to change the face of autism by changing the attitude of those challenged by the so-called disorder. The Autisarian symbol serves as a beacon of light for the growing wave of autistic super-humans. . .” So reads the manifesto of the remarkable Smith family, which includes father Lonnie Smith, and sons Kambel and Kantai Smith.

We are so pleased to present The Awesome and Absolutely True Adventures of the Autisarians of Philadelphia, a film portrait of an extraordinary family that make you rethink all that you once thought about the term “disability.”

In short, their motto is “Disability Not.”

Kambel is a 32-year-old self-taught artist with autism whose large and intricate cardboard sculptures of Philadelphia buildings are gaining attention in the art world. His brother, Kantai, who also lives with autism, is a talented computer coder who creates high energy and colorful video games. And Lonnie, their father, is the gentle guide who helped his sons discover their superhuman abilities.

From early days of struggle and miscommunication, diagnoses and confusion, emerges a beautiful story about a father who “learned to see with his ears” in a heart-warming effort to connect with his children. By discovering, embracing and supporting his sons’ unique skills and talents, he is helping them on the path to becoming their best selves. Both Kambel and Kantai live rewarding lives full of challenge and creativity.

As part of their journey, the family has imagined and created the wonderful world of Autisarians, superhero characters that fight off stigma, depression, and other evils in the universe.

In addition to his work with his sons, Lonnie is currently trying to use the lessons he has learned about the abilities of people with autism to help others. He has founded a non-profit, The Autisarian Project, which will use virtual and augmented reality technology to help others find superhuman abilities that may be hiding behind a lack of self-esteem.

Though their effort is mighty, and Kambel’s works are impressive, truth is that the Smith family lives in a modest home, and are seeking to fund a studio space, where Kambel can continue to create his mind-blowing art.

From discarded cardboard boxes come sculptures that awe and inspire. Potential is everywhere.

We hope you enjoy this story of love, art, achievement, and family.


EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.