Live blog: Deaffest 2012 – Friday night!

Posted on May 25, 2012

Tonight marks the launch of the UK’s deaf film and TV festival Deaffest 2012, where The Limping Chicken’s editor Charlie Swinbourne will be writing a live film-by-film blog, published below! Don’t forget to follow his tweets via Limping_Chicken and also the Twitter hashtag #Deaffest2012!

10.42pm: Overall, a great first night. Highlights for me were: The Third Brigade, Still Here  and Sex or Chocolate. Look out for them in future! Now it’s time for drinks in the courtyard, and to get this hot laptop off my lap! My tweets and updates from now on may be affected slightly by the intake of perfectly legal substances.

10.40pm: Or is it more serious? ‘The Beaten’ is about a disabled woman getting revenge but it’s tad predictable and one-note. When the revenge bit happened, I found it funny, but not ultimately satisfying in the context of the film. I felt there was a lot more that could have been said. Ah well.

10.33pm: ‘Sex or Chocolate’ was great fun. Now we’re into more serious territory – ‘The Beaten.’ From website: “Legendary British disabled actor Liz Carr stars in a hard-hitting drama ‘The Beaten’. Written and directed by Simon McKeown, ‘The Beaten’ questions society’s attitude to care and domination, studying the potential despair and abuse disabled people may face now and in the future. Liz Carr says “The Beaten is a dark glimpse into a possible future for disabled people… an important film by a director not afraid to take audiences to the depths of possibility.”

10.30pm: I feel a bit sorry for the woman who is doing most of the ‘sex’ side of this conversation. If her parents ever see this, she may not live it down.

10.28pm: I really didn’t know a deaf film could get ruder than Hands Solo… but Sex or Chocolate has managed it.

10.25pm: ‘Sex or Chocolate’ consists of two women talking straight to camera, signing very graphically about their sexual preferences… and chocolate preferences. I’m blushing just watching it.

10.21pm: Well that film had some pretty crazy graphics and subtitles, but it also had a strange charm. I liked it. Now we’re into very rude territory, with ‘Sex or Chocolate.’

10.06pm: ‘Wild Dogs’ has now turned into a big old shoot-out.

10.02pm: Example of subtitles in ‘Wild Dogs’: “Don’t whine, ya.” “I really have to be there or will be royally f*****!” “Ya know me no good at fibbin.'”

9.57pm: The first is called ‘Wild Dogs.’ The subtitles are all written in street English. Website says: based in Amsterdam about the four deaf guys falling into the sleaze where with easy access to drugs & fast money, anything is possible. By finding out that being in the underground world may get them easy money in the city famous for its many vices, the four friends started to get even more involved to a point where it may end in them paying the ultimate price.

9.53pm: Now we’re watching films for more mature audiences. I’m not sure I should be watching these.

9.49pm: The Third Brigade’ is really well shot and made. It’s an amazing insight into deaf rebels in Libya, and I would say it’s definitely hightlight of the fest so far. Exceptional.

9.40pm: Deaf actress Emily Howlett has just asked for shoe-related info on Twitter. I’ve just replied that I wore flip flops all the way to Wolverhampton. But I’m now wearing beige loafers. I couldn’t write in anything else.

9.34pm: Now they’re looking at cells where people who criticised Gadaffi were imprisoned. The irony is that it’s now the rebels who are throwing Gadaffi’s supporters in these cells. The Third Brigade gained more respect from the hearing rebels as time went on, until they would approach checkpoints side-by-side.

9.32pm: One of the brigade has just been telling the presenter how he felt when he first fired a gun and shot someone. He tells him as they’re driving, I’m pretty sure his hands weren’t on the wheel for a lot of that… but then I guess that’s the least of their worries in Libya.

9.28pm: Thought-provoking moment in ‘The Third Brigade,’when one of the brigade gives the presenter his gun while driving. The presenter looks horrified, almost as if he’s never held a gun before.

9.21pm: Now we’re watching ‘The Third Brigade,’ a documentary about a deaf brigade who took part in Libya’s revolution. Looks amazing so far.

9.20pm: The best thing about ‘The Allotment’ was definitely seeing deaf actor Matthew Gurney in old-age make-up. He’s bald with a beard, and smokes a pipe in this film. I think he’s got a lot to look forward to as he gets older.

9.10pm: A very good little short. Alex Nowak and his co-star (below) are great. Now we’re watching ‘The Allotment.’

9.05pm: Now we’re watching ‘The Silent Killer.’ Blurb on website says: After a brief passing on a station platform, “The Boy” begins to follow “The Girl”, seemingly with romantic intentions. But is he following her or is she leading him? When he tries to kill her, who will survive? And will they ever be able to have a first date?

9.02pm: Ends a bit abruptly, but some great, funny moments in ‘Me and Robert Pattinson.’

8.58pm: We’re now watching ‘Me and Robert Pattinson,’ the film that Deaf Director of Photography Simon Herdman shot. It looks fantastic. It’s about a girl who’s in love with Robert Pattinson, and goes everywhere with a live-size cardboard cutout of him. Which is sort of ironic, because I’ve always found his acting a little wooden. (see what I did there?)

8.55pm: You can see a trailer for ‘Still Here,’ here:

8.53pm: ‘Still Here’ has just ended. It felt too soon. I’d love to see a sequel. The cast looked like they were having the time of their lives. The closest thing I could compare it to is Last of the Summer Wine, just that sense of actors enjoying playing off one another. This film will definitely appeal to older deaf people, but it was also very enjoyable for this younger deaf person, too.

8.50pm: ‘Still Here’ is charming the deaf audience and me, too. It’s very much set in the older deaf community, with a host of familiar faces. There’s lots of banter between the different characters and lots of funny moments, especially when comedian John Smith auditions for a role in ‘the group’ following the illness of one of the members.

8.37pm: This film looks like it’s inspired at least in part by the Deaf Comedians. It stars deaf acting legends Hal Draper, Jean St Clair and Terry Edwards, plus comedian John Smith.

8.28pm: A slightly rude joke about eating sausages in the opening minutes of the film… giggles in the auditorium. I can’t say more, because this is a family site (obviously)

8.26pm: The festival proper is now kicking off with Louis Neethling’s latest film, Still Here.

8.23pm: SignMedia, a new learning initiative, has just been launched, with a stall here at the festival and a masterclass for presenters tomorrow run by Louis Neethling and Clive Mason. I saw Louis earlier and snapped him looking very dapper next to the SignMedia stand.

8.20pm: The Lighthouse’s Frank Challenger is speaking. He’s just read out a message from Richard Griffiths,  the festival’s new patron. He can’t be here tonight, after his latest acting success. Frank, meanwhile, is retiring but after many years of supporting Deaffest and deaf filmmaking generally, is hoping this won’t be his last year.

8.15pm: Tony Sutton has just asked on Twitter whether there’s a schedule of the night, and here it is:

8.12pm: Zebra Uno’s Marilyn Bueno Del Carpio has just opened the festival with a few words and now organiser Mija Gwyn, from Australia is signing about the next few days. She’s another good egg – she wrote this fantastic piece for Limping Chicken a few weeks ago.

8.10pm: Deaf filmmaker Giles Bowman has asked on Twitter whether there will be air conditioning this year, because everyone “nearly swam last year.” It does seem a bit warm now over 200 people are in this room…

8.05pm: The auditorium is almost full now, with Deafies signing left right and centre to each other across rows, from one side of the room to another, and even (for more private conversations perhaps) through small gaps between the chairs. This would be a very loud room indeed if it was full of Hearies speaking.

8.02pm: Have just spoken to deaf filmmaker Simon Herdman who’s very excited about a film he was cinematographer for a year ago, ‘Me and Robert Pattinson’ being shown later on tonight… he’s a good egg (but that’s what all Limping Chicken say)

8pm: People are streaming in now. Body language experts could have a field day with the initial positioning of the first four clusters of people. One group went to the right of the auditorium, one to the left, one slap bang in the middle and a large group in the front row. Not sure where I’m going with this, I just found it interesting. Anyway, a lot more groups have come in now and they’ve ruined this field study completely by dispersing themselves all over the place.

7.58pm: This is my chair for the evening. The glamour!

7.55pm: Well, it’s all about to kick off now! People are congregating in the Lighthouse, where you can barely make your way through the crowd for the signing hands. There’s complimentary wine (which is running very low indeed now) and I’ve managed to grab a glass before heading into the auditorium to get set up!

6.15pm: After helping one deaf man from Preston find the Lighthouse (where Deaffest is being held) I’m now in trusty old Wetherspoons, where signing hands can be seen in various pockets of the room. Wales and Derby deaf folk are well-represented here, I see.

5.59pm: Ah… Wolverhampton. How I’ve missed your sweet, sweet ways. I’ve now checked into the Britannia Hotel, a maze of smelly corridors sprinkled with late-night red wine stains. Better news is that the wi fi seems to be working… after a heart-stopping moment about, oh, ten minutes ago. The launch party is at 7pm and the festival proper kicks off at 8pm. I’m off to get some dinner.

4.58pm: Only Dudley now stands between me and a night of deaf film.

4.28pm: Coventry. My beautiful mistress.

3.39pm: I can now start thinking about some of the bigger questions for this year’s festival. Such as, who’ll win the Ben Steiner bursary, announced tomorrow night? And will my wi fi connection work? I’m willing to get RSI and use my iPhone for my art… but it could get messy.

3.29pm: Made my connection at Euston and I can now announce I am safely en route to Wolverhampton, the jewel of the West Midlands! Well, that’s what Deafies call it anyway. At least, I think the word was ‘jewel.’

2.36pm:I’m approaching Clapham Junction. Safe to say I’m not feeling the full excitement of the festival just yet…


1.56pm: So this is where the journey to Deaffest 2012 begins. For me, at least. At Strawberry Hill train station, in south-west London. On a sunny day like this, you should be drinking ginger beer in the garden, watching the kids play, instead of hopping onto two trains and a tube so that you can sweat your way to the West Midlands. But when you’re dedicated to deaf films, this is what you have to go through. Wolverhampton here I come…

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.

The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. 

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