Over the Hills and Far Away

Director: Michel Orion Scott

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


Over the Hills and Far Away explores one family’s unforgettable journey as they travel halfway across the world in search of a miracle to heal their autistic son. This sweeping and emotionally charged story embodies the openness and faith the Isaacson family places in the possibility of trying something extraordinary.

Rowan was born in 2001, seven years after his parents met while touring India. His father, Rupert, a British journalist and human-rights activist, and his mother, Kristin, a psychology professor from suburban California, felt the world was their oyster. After their son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, their perfect life began to fall apart. They tried conventional therapies, diets, and medication, all to no avail. Rupert had witnessed the potency of traditional healing and discovered that his son had a special bond with horses. He researched and found a place that combined horseback riding and shamanic healing—Mongolia. The next step was convincing his wife they should take their son to Ulaanbaatar and travel on horseback, searching for the elusive reindeer herders and the most powerful shaman in the country.

Accompanied by Rupert's honest narration, this rich film blends footage from the family's adventure through the Mongolian countryside with scenes from their life at home in Texas. Bolstered by testimony from autism experts, including Dr. Temple Grandin, this compelling film exquisitely captures an astonishing physical and spiritual journey.

(Archives note: see also YouTube Channel.)

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details


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