Monday, September 25th, 2017

The Deaf Film Festival 2017

Posted on May 04, 2017 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

By: Jordan Castaldo, Free Press Staff

The 15th Annual Maine Deaf Film Festival took place this year at USM’s Portland campus on Friday, April 28th and Saturday, April 29. This event is the only annual festival in the world to show films and innovative videos for and by people of the Deaf community. Put together by USM’s American Sign Language club, all films shown at this festival were written, produced, performed and created by Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, along with film production companies. This event will specifically premiere a collection of the best new Deaf films. The festival’s goal is always to provide a platform for people to learn, appreciate and celebrate Deaf culture, issues, and art.

On Friday, April 28, in the Luther Bonney Auditorium and the Talbot Lecture Hall, a series of films were presented, along with a skit and workshop done by Zac Stearn. On Saturday, April 29, Bill Nye, Roxanne Baker and Barney Vega discussed their workshop “Materials to Preserve Past, Present and Future about the Maine Deaf Community and its People.”

On Friday, after the opening statements at 6 p.m., a series of short films were played for about thirty minutes. The first one, “The Predators of Transylvania” was a seven minute long, cute cartoon type of film written in Slovakia. The second film was a signed music video to the song “Boring, I Love You” created in India. The last film, “Sign: A Silent Film,” was a touching story that took place in America, about a couple that met on a subway. One of the men was Deaf and the other was trying to learn sign for him. As their relationship grew, the viewer saw the real-life struggles of relationships where one person is hearing and the other is Deaf. The story ended up coming full circle in the end, which made for a very interesting story. Even if the viewer was not fully able to understand all of the signs, the facial expressions and emotions depicted through the body were enough to help.

Directly following the films, Zac Stearn performed “Stories from a CODA Comedian.”  “CODA” stands for “child of Deaf adult”. In Stearn’s case, he was a hearing child of a Deaf mother. Stearn made the audience laugh continuously during his presentation, telling stories of times his mother was not able to hear something that was really loud and bothersome to him. His American Sign Language was so expressive and made for a fascinating show. After his performance, he invited the audience down for a workshop, “Storytelling in ASL.” This workshop took the audience on a journey of learning techniques for storytelling that will help engage audiences, expand on the understanding of expression and learn how ASL is an important storytelling tool. The workshop required no prior experience. Following Stearn’s workshop, the festival proceeded to play one more hour long film, “The Godfather.”

The following day only brings more fun and films, along with many guest speakers such as Roxanne Baker, Bill Nye, Regan Thibodeau and so many more. The special guest host this year was Brenda Schertz, one of the founders of the Maine Deaf Film Festival.