RIT presence felt at local deaf film festival

NTID’s Panara Theater is site for several premieres

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The third Deaf Rochester Film Festival runs March 26-29 with dozens of movie screenings in several venues around Rochester including NTID’s Robert F. Panara Theatre.

The films deemed the best new movies by deaf and hard-of-hearing filmmakers or with deaf themes come from around the globe. But several have strong ties to RIT and NTID.

The featured film is Signs of the Time, produced and directed by Don Casper, who previously worked at NTID. He now works with Crystal Pix, a Fairport production company. The one-hour documentary examines whether the use of hand signals used by baseball umpires was developed by legendary deaf baseball player William “Dummy” Hoy. The documentary features period recreation shots at Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, as well as interviews with several baseball legends.

It is fitting that the first public screening of Signs of the Time will be shown in the Robert F. Panara Theatre. Panara, the first deaf faculty member at NTID, remains an avid baseball fan and historian and is featured in the film. A discussion immediately follows the viewing at 3:15 p.m. March 28.

Other familiar faces in the film are Michael Barreca ’00, who plays Dummy Hoy in the recreation (and lives in Hoy’s hometown of Cincinnati), and Matthew Moore ’83, a Hoy researcher and publisher of Deaf Life magazine.

Other festival films with RIT/NTID connections include:

The Heart of the Hydrogen Jukebox, a two-hour documentary by Miriam Lerner, an interpreter at RIT/NTID, will be shown at 9 a.m. Sunday in Panara Theatre. The film is comprised primarily of archival and recent video footage of various performances and interviews of deaf poets who were experimenting with poetic devices in American Sign Language from 1984 to 1992.

See What I’m Saying, the Deaf Entertainers Documentary, is a new film by Hilari Scarl featuring four deaf entertainers, including comic C.J. Jones and Robert DeMayo, both former NTID students. It will be shown at 3 p.m. Saturday at the George Eastman House.

Flipped and Don’t, short films by RIT/NTID graduate student Kamau Buchanan, will be shown Saturday evening in Panara Theatre. Flipped is about a man who wakes up deaf one morning, and Don’t is a drama featuring several RIT/NTID students and staff members.

The Red Riding Deafhood by Barbara Di Giovanni ’90 will be shown during a children’s program at 11:50 a.m. Sunday at NTID.

Worry: A Jewish Deaf-Blind Survivor Shares Her Story is a 30-minute documentary by NTID faculty member Patti Durr. It will be shown Sunday at 1:20 p.m. in Panara Theatre.

Onalee’s Journey, a half-hour documentary by RIT/NTID graduate Ruthie Jordan, follows Onalee Cooper, a deaf girl who grew up unaware of her Native American heritage. It will show at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Panara Theatre.

Aspiring deaf filmmakers are encouraged to attend a writer’s workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, March 27, at Writers and Books, 740 University Ave. Aaron Kelstone, a faculty member in NTID’s cultural and creative studies department, will lead the workshop “Film and Deaf Writers: Crossing the Textual Divide Workshop” to enable deaf writers and filmmakers to find common ground for interaction that will result in successful films. Admission is $10 at the door.

Admission to the Saturday evening movies in Panara Theatre is free, but tickets are urged. Sunday’s admission is $15. All tickets should be reserved at www.DeafRochesterFilmFestival.org.