Deaf Rochester Film Festival (DRFF) 2011

Deaf people “are facing not a theory but a condition, for they are first, last, and all the time the people of the eye.” – Veditz, 1910

It’s time to open our eyes and see see folks! eh?

heye all

just a short write up on my reflections of DRFF 2011

it was grand!  yep, there were some kinks and glitches but when u r organizing anything that big and grassroots u gotta expect some changes and roll with the stream.

It was grand because FILM is da medium for Deaf folks.  No no no question about it.  it is as Veditz said:

“We possess and jealously guard a language different and apart from any other in common use – a language which nevertheless is precisely what all-wise Mother Nature designed for the people of the eye, a language with no fixed form or literature in the past, but which we are now striving to fix and give a distinct liter…ature of its own by means of the moving picture film.” George Veditz 1910

Soo it was no surprise when Veditz was the most special featured guest at the fest.

Yep – his “Preservation of Sign Language” classic film was featured and highlighted and celebrated at DRFF 2011 by DRFF planning committee, Anthony Bannon, Executive Director of the George Eastman House, and Howard Rosenblum, Executive Director of the National Association of the Deaf – and us, the audience members.  When they showed the 14 minute Veditz film in full many folks were like “i never really watched the whole thing!”  Imagine!  ya all gotta watch it.  it is hard to follow without having read the transcript first i know but read then watch pause go back and forth.  this is something to be tattooed to our hearts folks.  it is rich rich rich.  (u can see Veditz’s own transcript for the speech – which is not ordered or verbatum to the film ASL version – Scroll down to bottom or view Carol Padden’s translation of veditz note: i noticed that he uses the sign for “signs” and always fingerspells “sign language” so it may be a verb vs. proper noun kinda thing – im not sure cuz im not a linguist but it was nice to be able to watch it in full and look for that one thingy cuz i have been puzzled about when and where he fingerspells – its usually for names, proper nouns or direct quotes – it seems.  Ted Supalla – when is ur book about those films gonna be released – im hungry.  feed me feed me feed me!)

so back to the festival:

Bannon wrote in his letter of support for the fest in the program book:

“There is an importance to the preservation of film.  A film such as ‘The Preservation of Sign Language’ records the story of our cultural heritage for generations to come.  If not properly treated, film can decay within years, along with its significant historical content.”

this is why it ROCKS that the Library of Congress selected George for the National Film Registry 2010 on the 100 year anniversary of when the NAD launched its Motion Picture project.

Rosenblum’s presentations reinforced NAD’s commitment to Veditz’s rally cry of “I hope you will cherish/love and defend/guard as the noblest gift God has given to Deaf people.”

DRFF invests in future filmmakers by hosting the Jr DRFF before the festival opens and brings in professional filmmakers to talk with the budding Deaf filmmakers about the ins and outs of producing films.  The storyline is the key to good storytelling via the lens and medium of film.

DRFF also had 2 days of workshops at RIT re: filmmaking – of and about Deaf folks.

Dirksen Bauman and Wayne Betts, Jr gave a kick butt keynote address entitled “Toward a Deaf Renaissance in Filmmaking.”  Dirksen walked us through the evolution of Deaf as deficient and defective to Deaf as dandy and handy as well as the evolution of thinking visually and the medium of visual storytelling.  Wayne cleverly showed us some footage he took in the back seat of Stacy Lawrence, two time Executive Director of DRFF – BIGGEST HAND WAVES, drove them about town.  We were all like – geez look at the road girl.  look at the road.  SMILE.  Wayne also showed us clips of affixing a webcam onto Ryan Commerson’s arm as he storytold about rock climbing to see if a more intimate positing of the lens would capture the FEEL, physicalness, and visual rhythm of ASL.

Thinking way out of the boxes these blokes are.  Ya HOO!

from evolution to revolution – here we come.

another presentation i loved was Joan Naturale explaining about a very RARE film she acquired for NTID called – Verkannte Menschen: The Misjudged People.  I loved her presentation cuz i love Joan.  She is pretty much a very shy and humble person and she is a major worker bee.  Doing good stuff all day with very little recognition or fan fare.  This film The Misjudged People first crossed my path when i read of it in an article by Dr. Schuchman in the book he edited with Dr. Ryan “Deaf People During Hilter’s Europe.” So the quest began to secure a copy of that film or at least see it.  After years of searching and many deadends – Joan finally hit a lead and bingo we have 10 DVDs of it.  I call her our sleuth cuz she is golden and determined.  Her presentation gave background, context and the importance of this 1932 film where Deaf Germans sought out to simply assert that they were worthwhile to have on the planet.

hmmmm why would they seek out to do that well cuz the bloody Nazi party was about to take over the country and Aryans and the “defectives” dont really mix so they thought we will use film to prove we are worthwhile to be on this planet to which the Nazi propaganda party said upon viewing the film – “deep six it.  Bury it deep – it offends us this insane notion that these folks are desirable when in fact they are defective and a drain on the fatherland’s wealth, strengths, and gene pool.”  And in strolls the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, of 1933 which lead from preventing “unfit” lives from being created to terminating unborn “unfit” lives, to euthanasia (ie murder of the “unfit) which in turn lead to the “Final Solution” – the Shoah.

it was fascinating to see how Deaf folks themselves used the medium of film to try to counter what was about to befall them.  So thankful we have this film.  Just as the NAD Motion Picture Project with Veditz’s Preservation of Sign Language speech and many other priceless works were almost lost to us due to folks abandoning them or their being suppressed in the times of intense oppression so too did this Misjudged People film almost go missing.

We can not determine our future if we have not properly familiarized ourselves with our past and where we have been and what strong stands we have taken and methods we have utilized.  Hence my great joy in DRFF finding, celebrating and sharing old works and new works.  Because with it comes vision, hope, faith and love.

There is power in them there lens!

there is more i want to share but in a rush this a.m. so will see if i can do do later in the week and will try to vlog if possible.

One note id like to add is that there were a few technical difficulties at times and some films did not screen properly – stalled out and had to be restarted or projected at the wrong ratio.  I want to say the filmmakers were GRAND about this.  They were so understanding and supportive even though one would imagine they have ever right to throw a diva fit – they did not.  It was a very “one for all and all for one” kinda attitude that the few times this occurred – these filmmakers displayed great grace and respect and i want to thank them for that – Mike Cyr, Tracey Salaway, and Louis Neethling – u rock.  I am so glad i did get to see ur works despite some of the glitches that cropped up.  They are really good films so i thank u for sharing them with us and for ur great patience with the tech. problems.  (if there were others that i missed i apologize for not recognizing u here).  Kamau Buchanan’s Catch Santa film was not able to screen and this is a shame cuz its a really CUTE and funny film.  U can learn more about Kamau’s work and this film at:

some scenes from Catch Santa are up at: (not sure if this is a kosher site so if that video shouldnt be up – holler and ill put this link).  Im just trying to give the film some visibility due to it not having had the chance to be screened at DRFF.

I know the tech folks tried REALLY hard and its always a gamble so kudos to them and next time im sure it will be like the HIGHEST chewing on fingernails priority to have a glitch free festival.  We must always jump at da sun knowing that we may not get there but off the ground we shall be and that is definitely what DRFF 2011 was – a big LEAP – international in its composition – France, Japan, Canada, UK, and the US were well represented.  sooooo biggest kudos to all the DRFF 2011 committee folks volunteers, executive director Stacy Lawrence, all the filmmakers, all the keynotes, all the presenters, and most especially all the AUDIENCE MEMBERS and FUTURE FILMMAKERS.

it takes courage and risks to make films but it is really important we do it

ill try to share my other reflections soon but for now – know that i love films and it is the MEDIUM for the people of the eye – let us use it justly and welly!

ohhh and DRFF is like the gift that keeps giving because it had a fund raising drive for Deaf victims of the earth quake and tsunami in Japan via a silent auction and collecting donations – u can write a check to DRFF and they will get the funds to JFD

ohhh and there was a very cool Deaf Japanese woman (name? curse my brain for forgetting – Andy to the rescue – see comment section), Kaori (Karry),  who shared her master’s project of using photography, illustrations, magna style to represent ASL and ASL story telling on paper – VERY VERY VERY cool and innovated stuff.  ohhh and Pamela Witcher had her solo show in the dyer arts center with a great reception – i could go on and on about her show and her but as i said…. RUSH me!

the festival opened and closed with Jason Listman’s experimentation of signed songs and cinematography.  so ill leave u with his Fireworks as its me favorite and cuz it relates to us folks!  Let the fireworks begin!

TBC if i get time

Deaf people “are facing not a theory but a condition, for they are first, last, and all the time the people of the eye.” – Veditz, 1910

lets show ’em what we r worth folks!

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. handeyes
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 13:40:34

    NOTE: i see i have kinda started this blog entry with a lie – it is not SHORT ; )

    my bad – sorry



  2. Andy Foster
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 14:04:20

    The Japanese lady’s name is Karry and you can see her vlog here:

  3. Andy Foster
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 14:04:44

    By the way thanks for the nice write-up. Appreciate your observations.

  4. handeyes
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 15:24:10

    heye andy foster – i thank u. ask and u shall receive – her name is Karry (as she goes by in the US) Kaori is her Japanese name (as i see from the video link) Thanks so much andy – u da bomb

    Andy is the webmaster / webdesigner for the DRFF website and was also very busy doing all the good work behind the scenes to make DRFF a success as well as all the other volunteers and committee folks – it takes a community to build a film festival and they did it so we all could shine

    thanks so much andy for all u do and are and for ur appreciation of me observations ; )



  5. Don G.
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 03:13:26

    Thanks for the write-up, Patti! Sounds like it was a GREAT festival of Deaf perspectives and using Deaf ways to play with a visual medium. Another proof that Deaf have something to offer the world — we can create new and innovative ways of using visual media that Hearing people never thought of!

  6. Trackback: DRFF 2011 – Brit Films Rock & Fest. Links « PEOPLE OF THE EYE -…first, last, and all the time” – g. veditz 1910
  7. Trackback: INGELORE on HBO May 8th « PEOPLE OF THE EYE -…first, last, and all the time” – g. veditz 1910

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