Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

Billy the Kid 2007

Directed by Jennifer Venditti

Much-awarded and widely loved documentary about a 15-year-old hyper-engaging small-town misfit. "A movie about adolescence unlike any other." — LA Times

USA In English
85 minutes 35mm


Donald Cumming
Paris Kain


Michael Levine
Enat Sidi


Christian Zucconi
Guy Blakeslee


SXSW, Edinburgh 2007


The sun seems to shine brighter on 15-year-old Billy, the hyper-engaging misfit who is the subject of Jennifer Venditti's much-awarded and widely loved documentary. Venditti, a talent scout, stumbled upon her subject while casting a short film from non-actor high school students in rural Maine. Billy is a funny, good-looking, motor-mouthed kid who takes to Venditti's camera with alacrity. Her camera loves him back, enthralled by his precocious rants, following him into the most intimate encounters with his tender, pragmatic mother, and, most disarmingly, into his ardent, soul-baring courtship of the sweet, pliant and semi-blind 16-year-old Heather. What Billy lacks is any instinct for self-preservation. We may be moved by his candour, touched by his self-aggrandisement or startled by his intelligence, but to his classmates these are the very qualities that mark him out as a freak. Venditti's moving portrait largely eschews psychological analysis, arguing tacitly for this vivid, troubled boy's right to be exactly who he is. — BG

"Billy was diagnosed with Asperger's after the film wrapped, and if you know anything about the autism spectrum, this will not come as a surprise. So were the filmmakers somehow exploiting Billy by not acknowledging they had a real disorder on their hands? I think not. This documentary is a totally refreshing look at a person dealing with autism... you get to see the kid first, and the autism second." — Annie Wagner, The Stranger