The Best Kept Secret of New Jersey
Best Kept Secret is a feature-length documentary about the struggles of a fiercely dedicated staff who support children with autism in preparing for the tough realities of life when they age out of the public school system at 21.
JFK High School in Newark, New Jersey, is a public school for youths with special education needs, including students on the autism spectrum and those with multiple disabilities. Janet Mino has taught her class of young men with autism for four years. When they graduate in the spring of 2012, they will leave the security of the public school system. Best Kept Secret follows Mino and her students for 18 months before graduation during which she and her staff struggle to find the students a place in the adult world—a job or rare placement in a recreational center so they do not find themselves where others have—sitting at home, institutionalized, or on the streets.
Erik Taylor is one of three autistic young men featured in the documentary who is heading toward graduation. Taylor shows that he's made great progress in communicating and socializing, but the 85-minute film also demonstrates how graduation will mean an abrupt end in crucial support.
The film was made with a grant from the Sundance Institute's Documentary Fund—awarded to about 50 filmmakers in the world each year.
Best Kept Secret was directed by Samantha Buck and written by Francisco Bello, Samantha Buck, Zeke Farrow.