BY ISA MONTAGNESE
I’m studying ASL (American Sign Language) this year and (obviously) I love movies so when a teacher suggested we go to a Deaf movie screening during International Week of the Deaf, I let out a little squeal (gross).
There are a lot of movies about Deaf culture and about Deaf people but there really weren’t any movies by Deaf people until recently. The only movies I had ever been exposed to were movies about Hellen Keller (there are like 7) and movies with Marlee Matlin (like Children of a Lesser God). All these kind of movies are made by/for hearing people so seeing Lake Windfall was a real breath of fresh air. I felt like an outsider but thank God no one laughed at me when I bought a ticket.
The movie was made with the intention of partially educating hearing people about Deaf culture by using a fairly basic premise and a few dick jokes thrown in. The film starts with two brothers (one Deaf, one hearing) who decide to go camping for some brotherly bonding time. They bring along three friends, one douchy hearing guy, one douchy Deaf guy and one nerdy hard-of-hearing guy. The first act of this movie is kind of hilarious as all five dudes try to navigate their way through cultural differences. The movie takes a drastic downturn when a crazy solar flare makes everyone Deaf and the movie loses its sound (for the most part) too. The rest of the movie is a horror/thriller with a super sad/cheesy ending. The loss of sound is of course supposed to give hearing audiences a taste of what its like to be immersed in a culture and language not made for you or which barely makes room for you. Watching a Deaf thriller is kind of fascinating! I don’t think I’d have a whole lot of ideas on how to create a good scare without sound. But as the movie went on, it reminded me of all the possibilities within the medium and how uncreative a lot of movies are these days.
The movie, as I expected, was pretty darn cheesy complete with a sappy speech about unity and world peace at the end. But I get it, (I think) there aren’t any movies like this really. There aren’t movies that use ASL without someone narrating, movies that talk about conflict within the culture about language, or movies that make hearing people the minority. There also aren’t many acting/directing/producing opportunities for Deaf people. Being at that screening, I felt like I was at the beginning of something big. I’m sure this film isn’t getting much of a wide release but if you happen upon, it’s worth the watch.