Fighting for Dignity in a World of Uncertainty

A young man from the suburbs of Oslo, Jacob Knutsen experiences the world around him quite differently from most. His inability to speak, heightened sensitivity to sound, and other challenges make him dependent on others to live. But those who know him best say his sense of humor, perceptive nature, and ability to build close relationships are what truly define him as a person.

Jacob was diagnosed with autism before he turned two, and is among those on the spectrum with the most significant support needs. The condition has left a profound impact on his life, as well as the life of his family. No one has followed Jacob’s journey more closely than his father. In 2009, the two of them made a life-altering move across the Atlantic, saying goodbye to their previous home and splitting up their family in the hopes of building a safer and more secure future for Jacob.

Fighting for Dignity in a World of Uncertainty tells the story of a powerful and complex bond between father and son, while exploring the impact of profound autism on individuals and families. It also highlights one family’s experience of the systems of care in the U.S. versus Norway for people with the most significant support needs. Ultimately, the film attempts to answer the question of what we all need to live a dignified and meaningful adult life.

  • Eric Benninghoff
  • Eric Benninghoff
  • Eric Benninghoff
  • Jacob Knutsen
    Key Cast
  • Leif Knutsen
    Key Cast
  • Siri Blom
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 14, 2023
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Eric Benninghoff

Eric Benninghoff is a multimedia storyteller and international researcher with a political science degree from Yale University. As part of a Fulbright fellowship, Benninghoff explored the transition to adulthood for people with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other neurodevelopmental differences in Norway's welfare state. Based at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, he conducted interview-based research and created short films throughout the Nordic region to better understand and highlight the challenges and potential of this diverse population as they transition from school to the workforce. Benninghoff has a personal connection to his work, having grown up alongside an older brother with autism in the U.S.

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