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January 24, 2006

At the movies

From: - Philadelphia,PA,USA - Jan 24, 2006

By Michael Klein
Inquirer Columnist

A long-in-the-works film project is finally going before the cameras here, starting this week: Universal Signs, a silent film whose actors use sign language (it's subtitled for the hearing). The film, shot mostly in black-and-white, dramatizes the experience of deaf people by telling the story of a depressed, lonely man (played byAnthony Natale, a deaf actor who was the son in Mr. Holland's Opus). Also in the film are Sabrina Lloyd (Numb3rs, Sports Night) and Lupe Ontiveros (Real Women Have Curves, Desperate Housewives). It's backed by Creative Access, a local group that advocates for quality-of-life issues for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Producer/writer/director Ann Calamia and producer/director of photography Catherine Miller run Doylestown's HNH Multimedia Productions.

Ontiveros knows the world of the deaf through her sons Alex and Nicholas, both of whom are deaf. She says she was drawn to the project because it's "an in-depth study of a personal struggle."

Ontiveros will do her scenes in California after the six-week Philly shoot. Among locations: a house on Large Street near Unruh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia; the University of the Arts; Drexel University; a Starbucks on the University of Pennsylvania campus; the Doubletree Hotel; and Mayfair Diner.

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