The trailer for her directorial debut dropped on Thursday (19Nov20), with her protege, dancer Maddie Ziegler, 18, taking the main role as a teenager with special needs, with Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr. also joining the cast.
Sia's casting decisions drew criticism from disability activists and autistic creatives - but the star hit back by claiming she had cast "neuroatypical" actors in the film and had done her research.
"I cast thirteen neuroatypical people, three trans folk, and not as f**king prostitutes or drug addicts but as doctors, nurses and singers. F**king sad nobody's even seen the dang movie. My heart has always been in the right place," she tweeted. When asked, "Did you do any research or consult the community at all? It's very condescending to say it would be cruel to consult a disabled actor," she responded, "Duh. I spent three f**king years researching, I think that's why I'm so f**king bummed."
The musician later tweeted, "Grrrrrrrrrr. F**kity f**k why don't you watch my film before you judge it? FURY."
Sara Gibbs, a British comedy writer with autism, a developmental condition that leads to anxiety in social situations, difficulty in communication, and atypical behaviour, explained why she was worried about the film on the social media site.
"Every time a non-autistic person makes a project about us for art, it sets us back in numerous ways," she wrote. "The first is obvious - that it inevitably, no matter how hard it tries, mistranslates the experience of being autistic. This is harmful to us because it puts disinformation out into the world."
She, like other social media users, also criticised the "Chandelier" hitmaker for taking on a project that would block autistic creatives from realising theirs, and for working with Autism Speaks, a U.S. charity many people with the disorder reject as harmful.