Young Gallaudet alums shine on the screen, and at first deaf film festival
You prepare to enter a different world at the WORLDEAF Cinema Festival, the first deaf film festival at Gallaudet University -- and you find a surprisingly familiar one.
Sure, they're all signing instead of speaking. But the sparkly young stars are just as charismatic at the ones at a L.A. premiere. They've all got a movie idea that would be amazing with the proper financing -- just like at any indie-film confab. Oh, and everyone's complaining about their agent. But more on that later.
WORLDEAF on Thursday kicked off four days of discussions and screenings -- movies by deaf filmmakers and movies by hearing filmmakers about the deaf experience. The highlight may be a visit Saturday by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, the deaf thespian community's crossover pioneer. But on Thursday, Gallaudet put the spotlight on some lesser-known deaf showbiz professionals, including two young rising-star alums.
Shoshannah Stern, 30, is best known for her recurring roles on "Lie to Me" and "Weeds." Russell Harvard, 29, played Daniel Day-Lewis's grown son in "There Will Be Blood" -- yes, the "I've abandoned my son, I've abandoned my boy!" one. Pals during their undergraduate years, they recently starred together in the forthcoming indie flick "Hamill," about a deaf wrestler. At a campus panel discussion, they bantered with others about their career challenges.
Does being deaf help you stand out in Hollywood? Or does it limit you? Howie Seago, an older actor on the panel, didn't offer much hope. Though he had a role on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and recently played Hamlet's Ghost in Oregon, "for an actor of my skills and contacts and experience, I'm not close to where my hearing peers are," he said, namedropping a few. "Maybe it's my age."
"My struggle is when I go into mainstream roles," said Stern, complaining about writers who've done little research into the deaf world. "They want me to be deaf, but what kind of deaf person do you want me to be?"
Harvard, though, praised Stern for going after roles written for speaking actors, such as one on TV's "Jericho" that the writers then adapted for her. He complained that his agent only sends him out for deaf roles.
"I need to sit down with my agent and educate him," he said.
Said Stern: "Or fire your agent."
The Reliable Source
| November 5, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Hey isn't that...?: Jerry Springer dining at il Canale
Next: Meg Whitman's $175 million campaign could have bought a lot of cheeseburgers
Posted by: exPostie | November 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hethanangel | November 7, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: lilliandeaf | November 8, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse