Capitol Hill’s Northwest Film Forum continues to make a home for festivals involving filmmakers and subject matters of all types. Next week, Seattle Deaf Film Festival brings its three-day roster of 36 productions showcasing the works of the deaf filmmaking community to Capitol Hill for the first time following its 2013 debut. Reels run April 4-6.
“SDFF started from a core group full of signing people who were passionate about cinema and wanted to set up a film festival celebrating its own culture and language,” said Patty Liang, the festival’s director. The festival is powered by community group Deaf Spotlight who plan to launch the weekend with an opening night reception April 4 at Velocity — $10 or free for weekend ticket holders; 8 to 11 PM. The productions being shown at the festival will offer many genres and styles for viewers to pick from and explore.
“The films were made by, and for the Deaf community. We have a wonderful committee who screened all 70 films and narrowed down to 36 films in different genres: animation, comedy/musical, documentary, drama, and suspense/thriller,” she said. The selection of Capitol Hill for the second SDFF was influenced by the community, and Liang hopes to keep it here.
“Our first time [presenting the festival] was at the University of Washington Kane Hall. After listening to the community’s feedback, we sought to find a local film theater that would fit the community’s needs. We thought NWFF would be a good fit for our second festival,” said Liang. She would like to see the third SDFF held on Capitol Hill as well but said this will depend on the cinema group’s budget. The film fest will occur in even years while theatrical productions run in odd years.
Anyone looking to get engaged with the movie makers behind the scenes may want to check out two showcases slated for April, 5.
The Documentaries Program running from 2-4 PM will feature a panel of four directors with Katie Roberts leading conversations who will also oversee dialogue with two directors lined-up for the 7-9 PM SDAFF After Dark.
If the festival is your first introduction to the Deaf community’s artwork you’ll still be able to follow it all, as American Sign Language isn’t a prerequisite for the films.
“All films will be subtitled in English regardless of spoken or signed dialogue. Panel and receptions will also have voice interpreters present should you feel overwhelmed,” according to a SDFF FAQ. Liang tells CHS, “Several films are from other countries and you will have the opportunity to see their narratives and their sign languages, different than American Sign Language.”
Though the festival is relatively new, Deaf Spotlight’s presence on Capitol Hill actually dates back a few decades:
The 1979 and 1980 Deaf Arts festivals at Seattle Center were watershed events; bringing cultural awareness in history, theater, storytelling and visual arts to the entire Deaf community. This created the impetus for the Deaf Drama and Arts (DDA) Program, hosted by the deaf education program at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), and led by Jer Loudenback and Rob Roth.
Seattle Central currently offers the only Deaf Studies Associate of Arts program in Western Washington. “Deaf Studies consists of courses teaching American Sign Language, as well as courses teaching deaf history and culture,” said school spokesperson David Sandler. The program is but one resource for the deaf inhabitants of Capitol Hill.
The Hearing Speech and Deafness Center at 19th and Madison offers many services to the community including: American Sign Language interpreting services, case management, audiology clinics, as well as parent-infant programs. “HSDC was generous to lend the tables for our opening night reception in exchange for an advertisement in the program book,” said Liang.
The weekend’s events will come to a close with a free reception at NWFF sponsored by Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services, Sunday April 6th at 7:30 PM. “Come and see our festival to see different Deaf perspectives. Learn our sign language and culture. Be a part of our community.”
Meanwhile, the Film Forum has another unique festival planned for later in the month. Starting April 13th, NWFF will host the first ever Seattle Autistic Film Festival:
We are co-hosting the FIRST EVER Seattle Autistic Film Festival on April 13, with The Autistic Self Advocacy Network - don’t miss out on this fascinating mini-fest filled with work that champions neurodiversity and autism acceptance: http://
This image from the film Wretches & Jabberers, directed by Gerardine Wurzburg.
Attendees of the Seattle Deaf Film Festival should plan on paying $11 at the door for films ($8 for seniors and students) plus service fees. Weekend passes will run for $60 and $40 for seniors and students. You can pick them up here.
For more information, visit the Seattle Deaf Film Festival webpage.