Stay Then Go is an independent dramatic feature film written and directed by Shelli Ainsworth with Christine Walker and Geoffrey Sass as Producers, and Stephanie Dillon as Executive Producer. The film was shot entirely on location in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Stay Then Go

“How to Say Goodbye:
First, be ready to go.
Have your shoes on or know where they are . . . ”

STAY THEN GO takes a poignant, challenging look at the bonds of motherhood from an unexpected perspective: that of a zealously devoted mom who must figure out the rules for letting go of the son she built her whole life around.

Part intimately detailed family drama, part emotional ghost story, the film is written and directed by Shelli Ainsworth who spins a lyrical work of fiction that hits personally close to home for her.
This is the story of Marion Baird, a mother who — like so many confronted with a child who is different — finds herself negotiating increasingly unpredictable territory.

TPT 2 / MN Feature

Inspired by her experience of raising a child with autism, local writer and filmmaker Shelli Ainsworth, premieres her first feature film Stay Then Go.

For writer-director Ainsworth – the mother of a son who has autism — Stay Then Go was a chance to take a more poetic inroad into the complex but rarely-seen experiences of millions of parents trying to help special needs children make their way in the world.

“There’s no way that you can have this completely subsuming experience, and be an artist, and not want to report back about it,” Ainsworth says of why she chose to hinge her film around the shifting relationship between a mother and her son through changes both ordinary and profound. “I’m not a documentary filmmaker, nor was I interested in making a literal, based-on-a-true-story movie. What I wanted to do was to tell a story that had, and held, an emotional truth which resonated with my experience.”

“Once I allowed myself to think in terms of this very non-linear structure, I found the whole story. The non-linear and metaphysical pieces of the story felt so real to me as a parent. It’s about the way that time and space become layered through the lens of our emotions,” she summarizes.


With 1 in 88 children now diagnosed with autism and 1 in 6 children with a developmental disability, there are millions of mothers and fathers confronting the realities of their children with autism growing to adulthood in a world where there is an often unintentional yet prevalent misunderstanding of their potential and place in the world. Given with the complexities of autism this misunderstanding which exists among the general public, further interferes with the goals that most parents and their autistic children/young adults have: To have an apartment, and friends. To find love and meaningful work. An unenlightened public makes this goal more difficult to attain. Where there’s more understanding, there’s more inclusion, more acceptance, more opportunity – to make a life of quality and dignity.


Stay Then Go will bring some light to these issues by way of a story of a mother and her son. And not with statistics, expert talking heads, or case studies. Through, the power of art, and story-telling, we’d like to connect, to entertain, to puncture consciousness, and to move humanity along, just a little.

Images by Artists with Autism

Art with Perspective

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