Hot Docs 2016: Wizard Mode

An autistic man strives to be a pinball champion in Wizard Mode. Robert Gagno is one of the world’s best pinball players, who dreams of one day being the best in the world. Robert also happens to be a man on the autistic spectrum, which results in many challenges in his life, such as finding employment or a relationship. Despite his challenges, Robert plays his way to the world’s largest pinball tournament in Pittsburgh, PA.

Wizard Mode is a film that focuses on a man, who is a master at pinball, but has major challenges in the other aspects of his life. Robert Gagno has been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum since childhood, which causes some great stress in his life. At the same time, Robert wants to become the world’s greatest pinball player and master the elusive “wizard mode,” which is only unlocked if certain accomplishments are made.

As someone on the autistic spectrum myself, I can’t help but feel empathy for the challenges that Robert Gagno faces in his life. While Wizard Mode tries very hard be optimistic and focus on Robert’s achievements, there is still a sad undercurrent when it comes to the all too real challenges faced by someone on the autistic spectrum. However, Wizard Mode is by no means a depressing story and it is more about this autistic man’s fight to succeed and take control of his life.

8 / 10 stars


Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).