Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Deaf Filmmakers

One question permeated my mind as I watched PBS's Through Deaf Eyes: why hadn't I learned this before?

I could not understand why this vital part of American culture was neglected throughout all my years of history classes. Why were Deaf American stories so easily silenced in the pages of history textbooks? Why are the disability acts so often ignored in the context of everyday political conversations? All these questions were stacking up and left me inspired yet saddened. I was inspired because a documentary had given me an informative and engaging insight into Deaf American culture. I was saddened because I felt like I had been cheated from understanding Deaf culture for so long and that even though this documentary was excellent, I knew that most of "hearing America" probably wasn't watching and rejoicing along with me. But this is the case with many of the documentaries I watch on PBS, even Oscar winning documentaries are not hot topics like they should be. When was the last time a PBS documentary was the thing to talk about at work on Monday? But that's another story.

One of my hobbies is learning about different cultures, so I'm naturally drawn to the kind of programming that gives me a glimpse into the lives of others. Through Deaf Eyes does a splendid job of doing just that. The documentary was flavored with interviews, short films from deaf filmmakers, archive video and photos of important moments in Deaf American history and other examples of what it was like for deaf people growing up before and after the Civil Rights Movement. One of the highlights was when deaf college students rallied together at Gallaudet University to protest against the school for choosing a hearing woman as the president over the two other deaf candidates. It was amazing to see how happy the students were when the media and the rest of the country came to their aid and sided with them in their battle. It's like you could feel this collectively sigh from the Deaf community that whispered "You care." It was a beautiful thing.

Then there was a really interesting interview with deaf actress Marlee Matlin who won an Oscar for best actress in Children of a Lesser God. It's the ground-breaking story about a deaf woman and a hearing man falling in love. This was a big moment for the Deaf community, in the Halle Berry and Denzel Washington winning an Oscar sense. And for me, as a filmmaker and movie buff, I must admit to being ashamed about being unfamiliar with this movie and having no idea of its significance until watching Through Deaf Eyes. But the good part is that it landed a spot on my must-see movie list.

I could go on gushing about how great this documentary is but for your sake, I'll leave you with this, please watch this film. Check out PBS.org to find when a re-run airs or buy the film and watch it with a couple of friends. Through Deaf Eyes is only a scratch on the surface about the Deaf community, so hopefully you will do a little digging and learn some more. While you're at it check out these cool blogs: A Deaf Mom Shares Her World, Deaf in the City, Somewhat Silent, Discussing Over Coffee, Keylime Pie Lovers Unite and Deaf Blogs.

12 comments:

Karen said...

Thanks for the link!

Karen

Karen said...

Thanks for the link!

Karen

DeafNN said...

Look cool! Thanks for your blog in Deaf stuff.

Kevin said...

Great write-up! Fair and balanced, unlike other bloggers who whined and pouted about some aspects being left out.

SolShine7 said...

Karen, you're welcome!

DeafNN, no prob. I checked out your blog and it's really cool.

Kevin, I'm glad you enjoyed it. That's what I was going for. You have a cool blog too. I had no idea that there was a group like yours, but I'm glad there is. It looks like fun.

Kevin said...

You should move to NYC. You'd gain an instant network of cool young deaf professionals.

SolShine7 said...

I wouldn't mind living in NYC. It's one of the best cities in the world. And hanging with cool people only makes it better. Oh--and that place you went with the free pizza, very cool.

AK said...

How serendipitous that you came to my blog and then I came here and found this posting. I am currently researching the deaf culture. I've been a fan of Marlee Matlin since Children of a Lesser God and now the L Word. Thanks for broadening my horizons.

SolShine7 said...

Thanks for stopping by AK. Deaf culture is pretty cool.

Your post about your biracial experience was a good read. Come back again! :)

moxie_mocha said...

Thanks for the link! FYI: I've linked my blog to yours.

I have been so busy these days, and I haven't been reading blogs much lately. This morning, I was reading the comments and had to read yours. You wrote a nice post about the PBS documentary from a hearing person's perspective. Thanks for doing that.

SolShine7 said...

Moxie, thanks for the link. I'm glad you took time out to read my blog and especially glad that you liked my post about "Through Deaf Eyes". It was my pleasure writing it.

p.s. I like your blog, the banner is especially nice.

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