There are a lot of misconceptions about what it is like to be Deaf in this country, including (1) the idea that it is the same as being hard of hearing, (2) misconceptions about Deaf culture, and (3) misunderstandings about how sign works. Director Hilary Scarl’s addresses all of these issues in See What I’m Saying.
Beyond addressing these misconceptions, this documentary highlights the talent of several deaf entertainers who struggle to make inroads with the hearing community, which often seems to forget that the Deaf community exists. See What I’m Saying shows us what we’ve been missing–and believe me, we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Beethoven’s Nightmare (a self-described Deaf Rock band) and singer TL Forsberg (who lost most of her hearing at age 8) demonstrate that it is not your ears that make you a talented musician. CJ Jones and Robert DeMayo also show off considerable performance talent that is also widely ignored by the hearing community, despite the fact that both of these talented actors have the ability to play hearing roles. What’s more, the dedication and service of these performers to their community is admirable, and the coverage one of Jones’ biggest successes–the first International Sign Language Theatre Festival in Los Angeles–allows viewers to experience different sign languages and performances from around the world.
Scarl, who is hearing, says that she was inspired to become involved with the Deaf community after seeing Deaf performances. Indeed, the visual performances that were her inspiration shine through in this documentary, but her manipulation of sound is also impressive. She uses both visual and hearing elements to show what it is like to be Deaf or hard of hearing in this country, and the result is breath taking.