A film festival showcasing the work of deaf filmmakers will take over a Wolverhampton cinema in May. Deaffest was created to provide deaf filmmakers with the opportunity to showcase their work, gain recognition for their achievements, and receive professional support in pursuing their aspirations. The festival will arrive at the Light House from May 6 to 8 with exhibitions, seminars, workshops, parties, and networking on the line-up.
First launching in December 2006, the festival takes place every two years and is the brainchild of three Wolverhampton institutions: Zebra Uno, the University of Wolverhampton, and the Light House Media Centre. A spokesperson for the festival said: “We are delighted to bring back Deaffest despite the challenges we have faced and the changes we have had to make for our festival this year. Isolation is an issue for many deaf people at the best of times, and during the pandemic and lockdowns, they have been amongst those who suffered most.
“At Deaffest, we want to “Unlock” this isolation, enabling deaf communities and individuals the freedom to discover a positive sense of their identity and re-connect with their rich culture in deaf films, arts, and BSL. We have seen how people have developed and shared new skills, unlocking their potential and taking the opportunity to create something new. At this festival we are opening our doors to you to come and see what talented deaf filmmakers, artists and performers have to offer. We hope to see many of you join us in celebrating the return of the festival as well as strengthening the strong sense of community.”
Over the years, Deaffest’s vibrant programme of films and events has expanded with the introduction of a series of prestigious competitions, including the annual Young Deaffest Film Awards, the biennial Film Awards Gala, and the much-coveted Ben Steiner Film Bursary. Deaffest introduced its very first Patron in 2012, Richard Griffiths OBE, who sadly passed away in 2013.
Their current Patron is Rachel Shenton, a British actress and writer, who is a committed advocate for raising deaf awareness. Rachel won an Academy Award in 2018 alongside her husband, director Chris Overton, for their short film about a deaf child whose family do not know sign language – The Silent Child. Deaffest is delighted to welcome a new Ambassador of Young Deaffest – Danny Murphy – who is a Deaf actor, filmmaker and presenter.