Sunday, February 07, 2010

Deaf community gets visit from Hollywood

Deaf community gets visit from Hollywood

Bremerton got a small taste of Hollywood, Saturday, when hundreds of people filled the Bremerton High School theater to view the first public showing of “See What I’m Saying: the Deaf Entertainers Documentary.”

The film follows the lives of deaf actor Robert DeMayo, hard of hearing singer TL Forsberg, deaf rock ‘n’ roll drummer Bob Hiltermann, and deaf comedian CJ Jones. The entertainers are of different ages, race, sex and background, and show many unique sides of a single, compelling story.

The film beautifully illustrates what it means to be deaf and ultimately, what it means to be human.

“Deaf people are just like everybody else,” said director Hilari Scarl. “They have the same hopes, dreams, disappointments, and frustrations. They just happen to use a different language.”

Every viewing will be shown with full captions. Amidst interest nationwide, Bremerton was chosen to be the launch site for the film’s national 25 city Sprint Relay tour.

 “We had over 250 booking requests,” said Scarl. “But I really liked that there were so many departments and groups working together to bring the film out here. We knew we’d get a warm welcoming.”

 Spearheading the effort to host the event was Olympic College student Bryan Davis.

“I wanted (the American Sign Language club) to do more for the community than just the deaf panel,” said Davis. “I saw the trailer for (the film) at the end of the CJ Jones event; I contacted Hilari and it just kind of went from there.”

 Davis, along with OC student Vice President of Poulsbo Steffany Peterson, Bremerton High School ASL instructor Susan Parker, an army of high school and college ASL students, and local freelance interpreters, worked to pull the event off without a hitch.

The evening started with a VIP meet and greet at 5 p.m. in the Bremerton cafeteria, with the show starting just after 7 p.m.

After the credits rolled, Scarl appeared onstage flanked by interpreter Pam Parham for a brief Q-and-A and closing remarks.

“It was really great to see it out here with you guys,” said Scarl. “I’ve seen it in the editing room a thousand times, but out here it’s like, ‘oh yeah, that part’s funny,’ or, ‘oh yeah, that part’s sad.’”

As crowds filed out of the theater, viewers, both deaf and hearing, took the opportunity to share what they had seen with each other.

 “I thought it was wonderful,” deaf attendee Helen Pendergraft said. “When it was over I just wanted more, more, more.”

 OC student Jack McGown agreed. “My parents and my brother and sister are all deaf, but Im hearing. I think the film really captured the struggle that deaf people face.”

 “I thought it was absolutely amazing,” said Davis. “I'm excited now that its over and we got to finally see the film; I can really say we did something special here tonight.”