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May 18, 2004

Deaf film festival prepares to open at USM this weekend

From: Portland Maine Press Herald, ME - May 18, 2004

Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine — A young deaf man is dancing in a nightclub when a pretty woman approaches and whispers something in his ear. Not wanting to reveal he´s deaf, he just smiles and nods before realizing his pants zipper is undone.

The scene is from "Chronic Embarrassment," a short British comedy among more than 30 films in the 2nd Annual Maine Deaf Film Festival beginning Saturday at the University of Southern Maine.

The festival films _ from countries including Australia, Nepal, Israel and Japan _ open a window on the world of the deaf and allow viewers to learn while viewing productions from a growing number of deaf filmmakers, organizers say.

"This festival is a wonderful place for the deaf community to come together to celebrate our culture and heritage," said Roxanne Baker, festival co-founder. "These films investigate intercultural issues from a unique perspective."

Don´t expect "Children of a Lesser God" to be shown, said Baker, an ASL instructor at USM who also is an actress.

The 1986 film starring William Hurt and deaf actress Marlee Matlin is about a hearing teacher who works to bring out the potential in his deaf students.

"Those aren´t the kind of films we´re including," Baker said. "They´re part of the hearing world, not deaf culture."

Shown at the festival for the first time in the United States will be an award-winning film from Nepal, "Golden Rays," about deaf culture in that country.

Producer Krishna Prashad Shrestha and screenwriter Dev Raj Gurung will attend the screening, traveling more than 7,000 miles.

Festival organizers said they will speak about their film and efforts to help deaf people in Nepal.

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