Wizard Mode Directed by Jeff Petry and Nathan Drillot

Wizard Mode Directed by Jeff Petry and Nathan Drillot
Courtesy of Hot Docs
8
It would be fascinating enough if the documentary Wizard Mode were simply a glimpse into the strange world of competitive pinball and a profile of Canada's leading pinball player. But the film develops into something more like a poignant coming-of-age story, as we watch the 26-year-old Robert Gagno overcome the stigma and stereotypes of autism and learn to become an independent young man trying to carve out his own place for himself in the world.
 
After falling in love with the transfixing bouncing balls and flashing lights at a young age, the hobby quickly developed into an obsession. It was only a matter of time before he shared his talents with the rest of the pinball community by entering into competitive tournaments, and we're introduced to the general rules and practices of Pinburgh, held annually in a Pittsburgh convention centre.
 
And yet, all of the pinball ends up taking a backseat to issues of Robert's growth and maturity, as he attempts to learn how to cook, drive a car and obtain gainful employment while grasping at what it means to become an adult. He mulls over the same pertinent question we all do at some point, of whether growing up means having to abandon the things that you loved in your younger years. Responsibilities and obligations are always bound to encroach, but sometimes you still can't help but want to while away the hours playing pinball or engaging in some other seemingly frivolous passion.

(Blue Ice Docs)