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August 12, 2010.

By Julie Kliegman

Joey Travolta, older brother of movie star John Travolta, has spent the past two weeks running a film camp in Englewood Cliffs for budding, mainly autistic filmmakers.

The program ends today, when the 50 campers ages 9 to 23 — 30 of whom have autism — will watch rough cuts of the three short films they made, as well as shoot footage for a public service announcement about autism in New Jersey.

Travolta will produce the films and the PSA for a theater show in October. An Englewood native, he has been running the Inclusion Films program at St. Peter’s College in Englewood Cliffs with the help of his crew and 20 volunteers.

He has held about 20 similar camps in other states over the past five years, but giving back to the area he grew up in was even more meaningful, he said.

“They have a place that gives them a voice,” the producer and former special education teacher said. “When it comes to working together and supporting each other, it’s a great thing to see.”

Travolta has a long history of working with autistic filmmakers, including producing the full-length documentary “Normal People Scare Me” in 2006 after being approached by director Taylor Cross.

Wendy Padykula, the mother of an autistic teenager with an interest in filmmaking, tried for two years to bring the camp to New Jersey after her daughter heard about the program from one of Travolta’s cameramen. She then teamed up to run the camp with MarbleJam Kids Inc., a Bergen County non-profit organization supporting extracurricular art programs.

“Joey takes an on-the-job approach to social skills,” said Anna Villa-Bager, founder and president of the charity. “Every kid gets to make a contribution.”

Read in Full:  http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/100509759_A_film_camp_and_more.html



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