Movie shines light on those with intellectual disabilities

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a movie aimed at relieving fears and raising expectations. It’s called “people like us” and it is the creation of 20-year-old Kirsti Mutz of Lakeland.

The six stars of the film share one thing in common: intellectual disabilities.  One of the stars is 17-year-old Emma Mutz, Kirsti’s younger sister who was born with Down Syndrome. “When I was growing up, I watched my little sister face a lot of rejection. People just making fun of her whether it was my own friends or just strangers staring at her in the grocery store.”

Mutz, one of 12 children, recently graduated from Lakeland’s Southeastern University with a degree in film. This started as a passion project for her but later became part of her thesis.

Pamela Mutz, Emma and Kirsti’s mother says “I am so proud. I cry like twice a year and I feel like I could cry right now.” She says watching her daughters work together in the film has been a blessing.

The movie follows the six stars of the film from their homes to theatre practice and eventually to their final production. “The point of this film is to give people information and contact with these individuals so the people they interact with in their daily lives they will have more empathy and understanding for,” says Mutz.

The movie “People Like Us” premieres tonight, March 22, at the historic Polk Theatre, 121 South Florida Avenue in Lakeland, at 7:00 pm. Admission is free.

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