The BSLBT’s Zoom film scheme has given a generation of young Deaf filmmakers the chance to make their first film, most memorably Ted Evans’s multi-award winning The End, sending tears rolling down the cheeks of Deaf audiences from Wolverhampton to (next month) Kuala Lumpur.
This year’s scheme is the last, for a while at least, because it’s recently been announced that Zoom won’t run in 2013 [update: the BSLBT say the scheme has closed to allow the BSLBT board to review and consider the way forward]. Which is a mighty shame, because this crop is one of the best yet. Here’s our round-up of the films. Make sure you see them all.
Little World (Director: Becky Bailey)
Little World’s already an award-winner, having won best experimental short at the Irish Deaf Film Festival. Richly deserved, because it’s a stunningly beautiful film that uses all the visual possibilities that animation offers to make a deaf girl’s world at a Victorian boarding school come to life. It reminded me of the animated feature film Persepolis, and it benefits from an economical script that allows the visuals to tell the story. For our money, the stand-out film of this year’s scheme.
Read Limping Chicken’s interview with director Becky Bailey here: http://limpingchicken.com/2012/10/31/meet-becky-bailey-director-of-little-world/
Watch Little World at this link: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-2012-little-world/
Strangers (Dir: Brian Duffy)
In Deaf actor Brian Duffy’s first short film as a director, a Deaf boy who is left out at home finally gets his say when an interpreter comes to visit. Being set in only one location suits its tale, of a boy being isolated, or as the still image (left) suggests, effectively imprisoned by a lack of communication in his family – a theme many deaf people can relate to. There’s an emotional twist at the end, and the film manages to make its point without being too obvious along the way. A great debut.
Read Rebecca-Anne Withey’s blog for Limping Chicken about the film: http://limpingchicken.com/2012/10/30/rebecca-anne-withey-a-response-to-brian-duffys-film-strangers/
Watch Strangers at this link: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-2012-strangers/
September 11th (Dir: Raabia Hussain)
When the terror attacks in New York occur on September 11th 2001, Deaf lives change thousands of miles away, as a young Muslim girl faces bullying and abuse at school and at her local Deaf centre. This film is based on a true story, and it asks important questions about how even within the Deaf community, ideas of people can change based on external events.
Watch September 11th here: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-2012-september11th/
Crossing the Divide (Dir: Cathy Heffernan)
Deaf journalist Cathy Heffernan’s documentary focuses on the ties that brought Deaf people together – and pushed them apart – within the Deaf community in Belfast during the Troubles. Heffernan previously researched and produced the documentary Deaf Sisterhood, and makes the step up to directing with ease. There’s great use of archive footage here and a story of love overcoming the divide that you won’t forget.
Watch Crossing the Divide here: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-2012-crossing-the-divide/
You, Me (Dir: Simon Herdman)
One of two longer films made as part of the Zoom Focus scheme, this is an emotional drama that focuses on the closure of a Deaf school and the effect on the pupils and staff that go there. There are two parallel stories – that of the school’s closure, and that of a young Deaf girl who is looking forward to seeing Father Christmas. For me, this film could have benefited from more variation in tone, but director Simon Herdman does a great job of capturing the sadness of buildings and institutions being lost to memory alone, as the world moves on.
Watch You, Me, here: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-focus-you-me/
Confession (Dir: Julian Peedle Calloo)
In recent years, a host of mainstream dramas have fictionalised stories featuring characters that existed in real life, so it’s nice to see a deaf film do the same. Confession’s main characters are Alexander Graham Bell and his deaf wife, Mabel. Graham Bell’s hostility towards sign language is focused on here, with a script that touches on a host of issues surrounding communication and education, giving the point of view of the sign language community. Although the story does paint Mabel in a more positive light than many believe to be the case in real life, this is an effective drama that brings some heavyweight issues to life. Confession also benefits from fantastic production values, and is bound to be very popular with Deaf audiences.
Watch Confession here: http://www.bslzone.co.uk/bsl-zone/zoom-focus-confession/
Round-up by Charlie Swinbourne, editor of Limping Chicken.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne. Find out how to write for us by clicking here, how to follow us by clicking here, and read our disclaimer here.
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