Washington, D.C. — WETA features the work of Deaf filmmakers and a groundbreaking documentary on Deaf history this March. “Through Deaf Eyes,” a two-hour HDTV documentary, explores nearly 200 years of Deaf life in America. The film will premiere on Wednesday, March 21 at 9 p.m. on WETA TV 26, immediately followed by the “Deaf Cinema Showcase,” an on-air film festival featuring the work of Deaf filmmakers and media artists.
The “Deaf Cinema Showcase” is hosted by WETA, Gallaudet University and the Council for International Non-Theatrical Events (CINE). The mission of the Showcase and its broadcast is to build awareness of the work and artistry of Deaf filmmakers and media artists; to engage cross-cultural dialogue between Deaf and hearing filmmakers and audiences; and to support emerging filmmakers through CINE’s network of established industry professionals.
“The Deaf Cinema Showcase features intriguing and thought-provoking work,” said Kevin Harris, vice president and television station manager for WETA. “We are honored to partner with Gallaudet and CINE to share these films with the Greater Washington community through our broadcasts.”
The films included in the Showcase were rated by a panel of judges on content, creativity and execution. The competition, which was open to Deaf filmmakers and media artists across the country, awards the top three finalists with a free entry into the Fall 2007 CINE Gold Eagle awards competition.
“Gallaudet is proud to co-host this unique collection of Deaf media artists and filmmakers, many of whom are alumni or in some other way connected to our university,” said Dr. Robert Davila, president of Gallaudet. “We are also proud — and honored — that WETA and CINE are providing such outstanding recognition of Deaf Cinema, a fast-emerging art form that is having a tremendous impact on Deaf culture in this country and around the world.”
“We at CINE are proud to be able to support the Deaf Cinema Showcase, as part of our ongoing mission to be the primary career-advancing peer group for film, video, and new media professionals,” said Mat Tombers, CINE’s President. “We congratulate WETA and Gallaudet on creating this initiative to give an important and vibrant sector of the filmmaking community the exposure it deserves.”
Preceding the “Deaf Cinema Showcase” on TV 26, “Through Deaf Eyes” documents Deaf history from a unique perspective. It takes a straight-forward look at life for people who are part of the cultural-linguistic group who use American Sign Language and often define themselves as “Deaf” — with a capital, and cultural, “D” — and deaf people who, for a variety of reasons, do not identify with the Deaf cultural community. The history often shows that intersections between deaf and Deaf people are many and that oppression and discrimination are common experiences.
Narrated by actor Stockard Channing, “Through Deaf Eyes” shows a broad sweep of U.S. history as it intersects the experiences of Deaf people. Education has been perhaps the issue in this story. “Through Deaf Eyes” traces the evolution of deaf education, from the founding of the first school for the deaf in 1817 to the 1864 chartering of Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., the only place that deaf people could earn a college degree in a signing environment, to the late-20th century “mainstreaming” movement.
In support of the “Deaf Cinema Showcase” and “Through Deaf Eyes,” many organizations in the Greater Washington area are hosting screenings and panel discussions. The events, which range from campus screening sessions at Gallaudet University to discussion forums at the Library of Congress, are opportunities for the public to engage in a dialogue about Deaf culture locally.
Major funding for “Through Deaf Eyes” is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, The Annenberg Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The outreach campaign is funded, in part, by Sign Language Associates, Inc. and Richard and Gail Eden. Outreach partners are the National Association of the Deaf, Gallaudet University, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology, and California State University-Northridge.
WETA TV 26 and Classical WETA 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational, cultural, and news and public affairs programming and related services. WETA is committed to producing programs that highlight the history and people of the Greater Washington area. WETA produces “WETA All Access,” “The WETA Guide,” “WETA Around Town,” “WETA Hometown Heroes” and “WETA Extras,” spotlighting local people, places and events. WETA’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia. WETA was founded by public television pioneer and Arlington luminary Elizabeth P. Campbell. For more information on WETA and its services, visit www.weta.org. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA.
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