Best and Most Beautiful Things

The provocative and joyful coming-of-age story of a blind and autistic teen rebel.

Best and Most Beautiful Things Registered blind and diagnosed with autism, teenager Michelle Smith wants the same as all young people do: love, success and a life of her own. Feisty and headstrong, with a new boyfriend and an interest in bondage and S&M, Michelle is happy to defy expectations and find her own path. Yet can she temper her bold expectations with her reality, and is the offer of a dream job all it appears to be? A provocative and uplifting coming of age story.

"Ms. Smith does not fit easily into any box, and neither does this thought-provoking film." - NY Times, Critics' Pick

"One of the year's most touching documentary films" - The Huffington Post

"I want to experience life working, and romance, and partying and all that stuff." It is the ordinary things in life that Michelle feels she misses out on the most. Struggling to surmount her own unique circumstances, her path towards a truly independent life is paved with challenges. With a shocking 75% of visually impaired Americans unemployed, this combined with her Asperger's syndrome has stacked the odds against her fulfilling her ambitions. "Nowadays I feel like I need to have some tangible success in my life," she tells us.

In her search to assert her independence and express herself, Michelle carves out an unconventional but fulfilling lifestyle. She finds a sense of liberation in the world of BDSM, which provides a non-judgemental environment where she can freely express herself, as well as a community of open-minded people with whom she can bond. It does, however, lead to an awkward conversation with her mother; "I know that this makes you uncomfortable, but I feel like if I didn't tell you, it would make things more uncomfortable," Michelle tells her.

Michelle's hoped of a normal life are buoyed by the offer of an internship in Los Angeles, with the potential to be a voice actor. But the reactions to her opportunities are not what she'd hoped for. Out of earshot her teacher expresses doubts, "she doesn't get it, and that's why I don't see her as being totally independent. I just don't." Her mother is also concerned, "it kind of freaked me out a little bit. What is she doing? What's going on? Are people taking advantage of her?" As time progresses Michelle's big break seems further and further away as her trip is postponed and postponed. But Michelle never fails to remain optimistic in the face of the negativity, disability, and Asperger's, and clings to her dream of becoming an actor in California.

LaurelSpecial Jury Award, Documentary Feature - IFF Boston 2016
LaurelSpecial Jury Award for the Individuality of the Human Spirit - Florida Film Festival 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Hot Docs 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - SXSW 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Margaret Mead Film Festival
LaurelOfficial Selection - Bentonville Film Festival 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Camden International Film Festival 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Cayman International Film Festival 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Dallas International Film Festival 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Indiebo 2016
LaurelOfficial Selection - Mill Valley Film Festival 2016
Laurel Best Documentary - Tulsa American Film Festival 2016
LaurelBest of Festival - Superfest International Disability Film Festival 2016
FULL SYNOPSIS

The Producers


Garrett Zevgetis is a Boston-based documentary filmmaker focusing on fascinating people and social change. Garrett grew up in Kissimmee, Florida, served in the U.S. Navy during Desert Storm, and earned an MFA in Media Art from Emerson College. He has directed several short films, including A MERCENARY TALE which premiered at the Boston International Film Festival and was distributed worldwide by Ouat Media. Garrett has also worked at PBS’ FRONTLINE, at WGBH under acclaimed producer Judith Vecchione, and as a producer for the nationally syndicated public radio program, RADIO OPEN SOURCE WITH CHRISTOPHER LYDON. He was recently named one of "10 Filmmakers To Watch" by The Independent magazine.


For its entire ten year run, Kevin Bright was an Executive Producer behind the Emmy Award winning television series FRIENDS. Kevin additionally directed more than 50 episodes of the show including all 10 season finales. He produced and directed other programs including DREAM ON, JOEY and VERONICA’S CLOSET. While teaching at Emerson College in Boston, Kevin attended a Celtics game where he heard the Perkins School Chorus sing the National Anthem. Inspired by their performance Bright began a relationship with Perkins and developed a film production class for the visually impaired which was featured on NBC's ROCK CENTER. A student in his first class was Michelle Smith. He has been involved with the film project since it began. Bright is currently Founding Director of Emerson College Los Angeles.


Ariana Garfinkel is an independent film producer and a 2015 FilmHouse Resident at the San Francisco Film Society. She produced the awardwinning feature documentary BOYS OF SUMMER, distributed by Tribeca Film and broadcast by ESPN, PBS and Sundance Global. She is currently producing a narrative feature film titled GLASS by Lily Baldwin, with whom she has produced two acclaimed short films. Other credits include documentaries NUNS ON THE BUS, SYMPHONY OF THE SOIL, WRENCHED and TRUMBO. Ariana spent ten years working in New York City at Miramax Films, Tribeca Productions and Reno Productions. She graduated from Stanford University.

Making The Film


In 2009 director Garrett Zevgetis googled the word “Beauty.” He had been working on a number of darker-themed documentaries and was determined to find an uplifting story for a future project. The search returned a poignant Helen Keller quote that led Garrett to Perkins School for the Blind outside Boston, a renowned institution where a feature documentary had never before been made. He began volunteering at Perkins and on the last day of his scheduled term a bubbly young student introduced herself – Michelle had found him. Over five years of filming and editing followed, and along the way the film was supported by IFP’s Independent Film Week, LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund, and Independent Film Festival Boston’s Work-In-Progress Award. The filmmaking team devoted to telling Michelle’s unique story grew to include the Emmy-winning creator of FRIENDS and Oscar-winning editor of INOCENTE, WAR/ DANCE, and TWINSTERS. In March 2016, BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS had its World Premiere at SXSW Film Festival.

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