There’s no need to fret over a potential communication breakdown at this year’s 5th Annual Maine Deaf Film Festival. In fact, a few of the films selected are so artfully, intelligently played and so deeply relevant to both deaf and hearing cultures alike, that no interpretation is necessary — your heart becomes your ears.
Esther Lee, spokesperson for MDFF, says the festival’s organizers have planned its fifth anniversary to be an honest, harder-edged reflection of the world inhabited by the deaf, a world, Lee says, that is full of the same “happiness, hurt and difficulties as [the hearing world], but one the deaf community must constantly re-interpret on so many different levels.” Sometimes, Lee believes, it is so demanding that for some people, knowledge of one’s deaf identity and culture lose their focus along the way. “The festival,” Lee says, “is where the deaf community can address [these] issues and explore themselves openly.”
Helping to fertilize the festival’s blossoming identity are this year’s film selections. Tackling everything from rape and domestic violence in the captivating, painful ‘Till Domestic Violence Do Us Part to the six-minute-short Coming Out (a surprisingly witty film rife with double entendre that examines deaf identity through a gay man’s discourse), the films explore difficult territory with grace. The combination of themes at play, both heartbreaking and hilarious, work to clear a path for communication that bypasses binaries like deaf vs. hearing and encourages all viewers to re-examine their perceptions of the world.
MDFF itself has achieved a quiet coup with its fifth anniversary. It’s one that not only revels in free expression, and helps the hearing better know a deaf person’s experience, but also cleverly invites hearing people to experience their own world from a vibrant new point of view.
Maine Deaf Film Festival |March 17, 1-9:30 pm | Talbot Auditorium, Luther Bonney Hall, USM, Portland | $18 | reserve tickets with firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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