In Up Syndrome, written, produced, directed and edited by Duane Graves while he was still a University of Texas student, Graves returned to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, to shoot more than a year's worth of footage with one of his childhood chums, a 23-year-old with Down Syndrome named Rene Moreno. What makes Up Syndrome such a minor miracle is that unlike documentaries about the developmentally disabled such as Best Boy, it plunges through sentiment and sadness to locate the personality of people who are often blurred into angelic smudges. Never institutionalized, Moreno grew up with "normal" boys and absorbed their habits - popcorn, girls, slasher flics, basketball, toy guns and more. That would seem ideal, but when he reaches young adulthood, he's so smart and confident that he's baffled at the category other adults place him in - Moreno is bewildered that he can't do what other men his age can. Graves' technical mastery of the digital video camera has us ricochet between moments of sadness, when Moreno is fired from his grocery bagging job, to lunacy, when he fakes a violent death after a mock shootout.
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