At the Deaf Way II, I saw something I had never seen before: a film about deaf people, made by deaf people. It was surprisingly professional, with fairly good acting. I did not know it then, but I was seeing an example of a growing, exciting arena of deaf culture: deaf cinema.
What is Deaf Cinema?
What is deaf cinema? Deaf cinema is films made by and about deaf people and deafness, that often has deaf themes such as hearing and deaf getting along, the inability to hear, deaf history, curing deafness, and sign language.
International Deaf Film Festivals
The number of films produced by and about deaf people internationally has grown to the point where several annual film festivals are being held around the world to showcase their work:
- An International Deaf Film Festival in Amsterdam, "Deaf in the Picture."
- AFestival of Cinema for the Deaf in Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Institute for the Moving Image (CIMI).
- A deaf film festival at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Deaf film festivals at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.
- A London Deaf Film and Television Festival.
The deaf film festivals have showcased deaf films from Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Norway, and the United States. As the involvement of deaf people in making films and videos has expanded, an International Association of Deaf Media Professionals has been formed.
In addition, presentations are being made about deaf cinema: Jane Norman, a professor at Gallaudet University, has presented on deaf cinema. Books are also being written. One of the CIMI directors, Joshua Flanders, is editing a book of essays, titled Cinema and the Deaf.
Videos and DVDs of Deaf Films
Fortunately for those who are unable to attend the film festival(s), Davideo Productions offers a DVD, "Best of Festival of Cinema for the Deaf."