Doctors Julian Reed and Barbara Sullivan are rising stars in their respective fields at elite Wallace University when they fall in love with each other – and with their mutual passion for the idea of cloning a Neanderthal. Their plan is to extract DNA from the world’s only non-fossilized Neanderthal remains, implant them into a human embryo, and create the first “modern human” Neanderthal. Despite the express directive of the university’s board, and the misgivings of some in the scientific community, Sullivan boldly decides to carry the embryo and raise him or her as the couple’s own child. The result is William: the first Neanderthal to walk the earth for some 35,000 years.
William proves a sweet, strong and happy child and develops rapidly. But his parents, who have become an academic power duo, soon argue over how to raise the boy. Reed believes William should continue to be monitored and researched, while Sullivan’s maternal instincts overtake her scientific needs: She wants William to lead the life of a normal child, free from excess scrutiny. But is it possible? William tries his best to fit into the world around him, but his distinctive physical features, his powerful build and his unique way of thinking–his “otherness”–set him apart and provokes fear in the less tolerant. When school bullies taunt him with calls of “caveman,” the usually kind William responds with an aggressive show of strength that ends the harassment, but singles him out as “problematic,” and something to be regulated.
William is a stirring, heartfelt, provocative and inventive look at nature, nurture and the limits and vastness of scientific possibility. Though at its centre, it is a coming-of-age story about a character who is cognitively different than his fellows – but no less human – and how these differences play out in family dynamics and emerging manhood. William’s story is powerful and unique, but his struggle to find love and assert his own identity in a hostile world is universal — and timeless.
William is directed by Tim Disney. Disney has written, produced or directed 15 feature films, documentaries, and television programs including American Violet, The Last Mountain, and Breakthrough which had its world premiere at this years’ South By Southwest festival. The film is written by Disney, along with J.T. Allen.