As I hope many of you know, I have been fascinated by sign language and Deaf culture for more than ten years now, and often attend Deaf events.
On Saturday, I was able to see a special preview screening at the Alamo Drafthouse of the Ukranian film THE TRIBE, which takes place at a school for the deaf in the Ukraine and which features a cast of phenomenally talented deaf actors–and the story is told entirely in Ukranian Sign Language without subtitles or voice-over.
Here is the trailer:
It was a powerful movie, and I loved it, as I knew I would. It reminded me of one of my favorite French films, Jacques Audiard’s UN PROPHETE, which follows a young man who rises in the ranks of a prison to become a leader in a Corsican gang. THE TRIBE follows a new student who ultimately rises in the ranks of the school’s “deaf mafia” –which is involved in running a prostitution ring, among other criminal activities. The movie was an inside look into a world that most people will never experience–a residential school for the deaf, in the Ukraine no less, and then it explored an even more secret world, that of a underground criminal enterprise run by teenagers!
I thought it was interesting that the film was called THE TRIBE, as the hit play ‘Tribes’ also explored different modes of Deaf empowerment. There is so much more to talk about when it comes to this topic, which I believe relates to the greater issue of diversity in film, but for now I’ll leave it at that.
Here is a trailer #withcaptions for ‘Tribes,’ which I saw at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore.
Anyway, after the screening of THE TRIBE, there was a Q&A with the lead actress, Yana Novikova.
Unfortunately, many of the questions got lost in translation because there were two interpreters, as Yana (who uses Ukranian Sign Language) was using Gestuno (International Sign Language, an invented language used in gatherings of deaf people from different countries), and her words needed to be interpreted into American Sign Language and then voiced, and vice versa. But it was still a nice Q&A, and she is a lovely girl. Here’s a pic (video clips are forthcoming):
Many people had questions, though I was the only hearing person to ask a question (why don’t more hearing people go to events like these??)
My question: “What do you think this movie does for the Deaf community? On the one hand it proves that ‘Deaf people can do anything but hear’ but on the other hand, some might say it perpetuates certain stereotypes about Deaf people, such as about morality. What are your thoughts?”
If you have thoughts, post them below. Otherwise, let me know if you are planning on seeing the movie/have seen it/what you thought about it.
Here is the actress we saw, Yana Novikov, in one of many interviews.
And check out an article from IndieWIRE that examines certain issues: from the film’a Foreign Oscar snub to the casting process to recruit Eastern European #Deaftalent!
We also had a great time at the Deaf-friendly dance party afterwards, featuring awesome ASL music videos. People were making ASL music videos long before the video of the interpreter rapping to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” went viral. So, on a lighter note than teen prostitution rings, I’ll leave you with one of the videos #withcaptions we watched at the party. This one’s a gem. Enjoy!