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May 11, 2006

New festival to focus on deaf filmmaking

From: CBC British Columbia, Canada - May 11, 2006

Last Updated Thu, 11 May 2006 12:42:47 EDT
CBC Arts

Another international film festival is debuting in Toronto, this one aimed at promoting the work of deaf filmmakers.

One of the goals of the Toronto International Deaf Film and Arts Festival is to celebrate the deaf filmmaking community, festival organizer Catherine MacKinnon told CBC News.

"We're not hiding under the stairs. We are here, we are in the community, we are making noise, so to speak," MacKinnon, a deaf filmmaker, said through an interpreter.

"We just want to show people we can have mutual respect. There are different cultures and we happen to be a different culture as well."

This year's event will screen 20 films, chosen out of 60 international entries submitted. Filmmakers from Italy, Japan and the U.S. will attend.

The lineup of films – about hard of hearing people, created by deaf filmmakers, starring deaf actors or produced with deaf crew members – includes shorts and feature-length works ranging from comedies to documentaries.

"It's a small community but we needed something to celebrate that fact, so finally we have [a festival] here in Canada," MacKinnon said.

However, deaf actors and crew still face a constant battle to find work, said Anselmo DeSouza, who stars in MacKinnon's 2003 film I'm Not From Hear.

Deaf actors "follow a script – they act – same as any hearing actor would," DeSouza said through an interpreter.

"I try to emphasize to directors not to be hesitant or afraid of working with deaf actors."

The festival, which launched with a reception Wednesday night, officially gets underway Thursday with a screening of It's All Gone Pete Tong as its opening night film. Presented in colloboration with the Toronto International Film Festival, the music-filled mockumentary tells the story of a hedonistic, hard-living, famous DJ whose world changes when he begins to lose his hearing.

The festival, which will also feature panel discussions and presentations, continues through Sunday.

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