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Maine Deaf Film Festival

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DFF 2005
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The 3rd Maine Deaf Film Festival announces that it will be hosting a special press screening on Friday, April 8th, from 1 to 5:00, at the USM Library. Print, radio, and TV reporters, film critics, and others will be able to interview members of the DFF board, learn about the filmmakers and guest speaker, Dr. H-Dirsksen L. Bauman, and to preview a selection of the 25 films to be shown at the 3rd Annual Maine Deaf Film Festival.

We hope through this press screening to help reporters in informing the public on the significance and issues raised by this festival. One mission of the festival is to build a bridge between the Hearing and Deaf Communities. The general public will not have heard of “Deaf Cinema”, nor have an understanding of the particular perspective it entails. By giving reporters this opportunity to view films directly, and by being able to answer their questions about the evening’s speaker, Deaf Culture, and the Festival, we hope to facilitate accurate, informed, and lively reporting.

In addition, the preview will begin the judging for the three Maine Deaf Film Festival (DFF) Awards to be presented at this year’s festival: The DFF Jury Award, the DFF Press Award, and the DFF Audience Award. During the preview reporters will be invited to vote for the film they feel deserves recognition. Members of the DFF jury will be voting for the DFF jury award, and on the night of the festival, voting stations will be set up for Festival participants to vote and comment on the films. The purpose of these awards is to allow the festival to achieve its mission of providing recognition to Deaf artists.

For information on attending, please contact Stacey Smith at A press packet, including descriptions of the evening’s films will be available for download at under press info.


For the third year in a row, The University of Southern Maine (USM) Linguistics Department and the USM American Sign Language Club are proud to host the Maine Deaf Film Festival, to be held Saturday, April 16th 2005, from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM, at the Luther Bonney Auditorium on Portland’s USM Campus. The festival will feature over 25 international short and feature length films made by Deaf   filmmakers artists, and educators, including the presentation of Festival Awards. In the afternoon a guest lecturer from Gauladet University, Dr. H-Dirsksen L. Bauman, will speak on his film Audism Unveiled. There will be a Gala Reception at the USM Student Center from 5:00 to 6:30 including light refreshments, and where audience members may meet several of the filmmakers who will be on hand, including the guest speaker. Finally, through a special arrangement with Miramax Pictures, the evening will capped by the Maine Premiere of the award-winning feature film Dear Frankie.

The afternoon speaker, Dr. H-Dirsken L. Bauman, Associate Professor of Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University, will arrive  from Washington, DC to discuss and answer questions on his new film Audism Unveiled. This film, a collaboration between students and faculty from Gallaudet University, is a thought-provoking and controversial investigation of the history of discrimination against Deaf people both within and outside the Deaf Community.

In addition, the Festival is proud to be presenting a special captioned screening and Maine Premiere of Scottish director’s Shona Auerbach’s award-winning picture Dear Frankie, currently in theaters nationally. This feature length film concerns a deaf boy whose mother hires a stranger to pose as the father the boy has never met. The film stars Emily Mortimer, who audiences will recognize from the movies The Kid, Scream 3, and Notting Hill.

The festival, whose audience has grown each year since its inception in 2002, aims to show that cinema, functioning as a common language, has the ability to build bridges between different communities, such as the Deaf and Hearing. Furthermore, the festival aims to support and encourage Deaf artists, and to give them a wider audience and recognition. To this end, three Maine Deaf Film Festival (DFF) Awards will be presented at the festival: The DFF Jury Award, the DFF Press Award, and the DFF Audience Award. Audience members will be able to vote and comment on the films, and this recognition is a part of creating a dialogue between Deaf and Hearing audiences and the artists.

The festival features films for every taste, from documentary, animation, romance, comedy, and drama. All the evening’s films are captioned for the benefit of Deaf and hearing. The festival begins with a brief reprise of a few favorite films from previous years, especially the delightful and stylish Hear No Evil, and the funky and musical Skye, and the thrilling parody Sang Froid. It continues with films grouped according to theme: Deaf Love, Deaf Family, Deaf History, and so forth. These themes will are used as starting points for short audience discussions to follow each segment. In this way festival organizers hope to engage the audience in a way that is unusual for a festival of this sort. What will distinguish this festival is the way each filmmaker offers the viewer a  unique Deaf perspective on topics of universal significance,  in the shared language of film.

Emmy Award-winning television producer, author, and film maker Irene Taylor Brodsky's documentary Deaf Northwest is another highlight of the festival. The film chronicles the unique environment found in the only assisted-living facility exclusively for deaf and deaf-blind adults in the United States. Also about the deaf blind is English film Lost Reels, which has won awards and accolades for its producer and director Matthew Humphreys. This short film delivered in British Sign Language (BSL), takes the viewer on the journey of one man’s experience of being Deaf and becoming blind. 

The festival also features a bevy of short films that are both light and entertaining, such as the lighthearted Mr. V, a “daring” digital adventure with an unexpended ending.

The festival crosses cultural barriers by importing several foreign films that are exciting and unique. Asrama Ku, for example, produced and directed by Leon Lim, is a Malaysian film wherein he finds himself reflecting back on his dormitory days while attending a class reunion.

Cultural and technological advances during the last decades have created greater opportunities for Deaf men and women to express themselves through the film medium in their own language. A new cinematic movement, dubbed the "New Deaf Cinema", has emerged, and it is this voice that the film festival wants to give an audience for. Many of these films have powerful messages of significance to both the hearing and Deaf communities. In Overdue, filmmaker Laura Mauldin, tells the story of a specific book that has disappeared from the shelves of a library. In searching the shelves of the library an unsettling discovery has been made which, ultimately results in a call for resistance. In Don’t Mind, producers and directors Patti Durr and Elizabeth Dena Sorkin, show one man’s unexpected adventure in babysitting teaching him how to laugh again.

Many of the evening’s films fall in the category of Visual Poetry. For example, See(m)ing is Believing: Questioning What We Know, produced and directed by Shawn Broderick and Emily Steinberg, explores what happens when a concept is built with moving images rather that written words. According to the producers "This film offers, not an explanation nor translation, but a beginning." Another Emily Steinberg film, In/visible explores the beauty of movement in both language and environment.

Love and Family are also important themes in the Deaf experience, and several films attempt to capture this experience. Mother’s Love is an eight-minute film produced and directed by Bridget Klein. It is the story of a Deaf child with one Deaf parent and one hearing parent, who have managed to create a successfully loving environment despite their cultural differences.

Like this one, many of the films on the evening’s lineup highlight Deaf community members transcending social and physical barriers. In the same spirit, hearing and Deaf alike are invited to join together and transcend cultural barriers by celebrating this day of rich artistic expression. The Festival is made possible by the gracious contributions of sponsor Hamilton Relay, Maine Center on Deafness, Ellen Philip Associates, and Alpha One. For more information people are encouraged to visit Advance tickets ($15 full day/ $12 senior or student; half day $10/$8) may be purchased in person at the USM Linguistics Department, 65 Exeter St. or by phone at the USM Linguistics Department: TTY 207-780-4069, VOICE 207-780-4989 or 4582.


Information about Keynote Speaker:

H-Dirksen L. Bauman is from Colorado where he became involved with the Deaf community as a dormitory supervisor at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. He holds a B.A. in English from The Colorado College, an M.A. in English from the University of Northern Colorado and a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He came to Gallaudet University in 1996 where he taught in the English department.

In 1999, he moved to the Deaf Studies Department where he continues to research and publish in his primary areas of interest: American Sign Language Literature, Cultural Studies, postmodern theory and the politics of identity development.

Relevant links:

Festival website

Daer Frankie

Filmmaker Contacts:

Patty Durr

Emily Steinberg

H-Dirsken L. Bauman

Matthew Humphrey

Elizabeth Brodsky

Bridget Klein

DFF Board:

Brenda Schertz Chair

Stacey Smith Media Relations

David Crespo Filmmaker Liason

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