For the past four years the British Deaf Association have been working to bring their extensive film and video collection back to life.
Following a successful appeal to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other generous contributions, over 600 films and videos have been preserved and are now being made fully-accessible for the first time.
As part of this project, the BDA commissioned Flashing Lights Media to create Power in Our Hands – a landmark documentary that uses this newly digitised archive footage to explore the secret history and heritage of the Deaf community in the UK.
Rather than focusing on medical definitions of hearing loss, Power in Our Hands presents Deaf people as an active and resilient community that has long campaigned for its language to be recognised.
From the social scenes of the 1930s, to the 2000 march supporting BSL recognition, this documentary gives people a glimpse into Deaf culture that is mostly hidden from the hearing world.
Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chair of the British Deaf Association said: “To see this old film footage is an emotional occasion for me. For many years, I never really knew or saw my language on screen. So to be able to sit down and see BSL on a par with any other language is a wonderful thing. This film will give the Deaf community a feeling of history and sense of pride.”
The film has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both audiences and cinemas, and is now programmed to play in over 30 venues across the UK.
For screening details, please visit: www.bda.org.uk/power-in-our-hands
All of the BDA’s newly digitised material is available through SHARE: The Deaf Visual Archive where users can view old photographs and footage as well as upload their own videos or images: www.sharedeafarchive.org
Jemma Buckley is the BDA’s Project Manager for the Film Heritage Project.
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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