Back to List

Tommy! The Dreams I Keep Inside Me

January 28, 2016 - Posted in Reel South by Glenn Rawls
Tommy working his day job

Tommy works his day job, but dreams of being a "Big Band" singer at night

From the film.

TOMMY! The Dreams I Keep Inside Me is a touching film about Tommy Onorato, a 60 year-old man with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the life-long dream of singing with a Big Band. Armed with his golden voice and his All-American optimism, Tommy embarks on a quest to have the "world on a string."

Chilean American filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman has seven feature films and dozens of shorts to his credit.  His films have been shown in many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals like Toronto, Edinburgh and Telluride and include documentaries about Latino immigrants, abducted children, refugee women collectives, kite makers, Muslim scholars, whirling dervishes, Jazz musicians, autism inclusion and the Occupy movement.

Dorfman explains TOMMY! this way:  “I met Tommy, by pure chance a few years ago, while filming a project with autistic teenagers. I was immediately struck by his love for life and his desire to share his gift with the world. Tommy is a sixty year-old autistic man with the life-long dream of singing with a Big Band.  As we follow Tommy's journey, the film takes you into his community of autistic adults, the world of jazz musicians, his ups and downs, his work, his quirks and even his dirty laundry.”

Tommy’s 83-year-old mother put it best: “This film can reassure parents of autistic children that there is a future for them and will inspire those children to seek a place in the world they can call their own.” 

TOMMY! is part of ETV’s Reel South series, produced in partnership with UNC-TV and the Southern Documentary Fund that features films about the South.   If you missed the broadcast premiere in February, you can watch it on

Facebook comments

Related Posts

Episode #408 - Captain Chris Scott rallies a colony of tent residents to defend their provisional homes against the forces of gentrification. As development encroaches on the...

Episode #407 - A successful fashion designer who gave up her big-city career, Ingrid Gipson discovered a reclusive life of solitude and unhindered creativity in Arkansas’...