- Actress Shoshannah Stern, a Gallaudet grad. (publicity photo)
Professor Jane Norman has directed film festivals at Gallaudet University before, with Deaf Way I in 1989 and Deaf Way II in 2002. But the inaugural, four-day WorlDeaf Cinema Festival, which kicks off on Thursday, looks to be the most star-studded yet, including appearances by producer Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. and actresses Marlee Matlin and Shoshannah Stern. The lineup, meanwhile, consists of 17 films selected from seven countries, selected from 173 submissions by a judging panel. Some of the films were made by hearing filmmakers, some by deaf filmmakers, but all pertain to the deaf experience — and come with English subtitles.
I interviewed Stern, a Gallaudet graduate, and Norman by email.
On the challenges of being a deaf actress:
SS: I think every role I've played has presented its own unique challenge, whether it's written as a deaf role or not. Sometimes roles that have been written as deaf present me with a challenge because being deaf is a very individual thing, and it can be a bit difficult to figure out exactly what kind of deaf they're looking for. The roles of Bonnie in Jericho and Holly in Threat Matrix weren't written as deaf, in addition to the role of Sarah I have now on Lie to Me.... With each show, I was tremendously lucky to have people who saw something in me and were willing to take a risk. It can be a struggle to think outside the box, especially in television.