Deaffest, the Deaf Film and Television Festival 2006 returned at the start of December to Light House in Wolverhampton. The eighth festival held in Wolverhampton since 1998, Deaffest was jointly organised by a new steering group including Light House, The University of Wolverhampton and Zebra-Uno, formed to ensure that the Festival would again become an annual event and be Deaf-led. With a packed programme of films, panel discussions, networking opportunities and social events that were all free, the festival was well attended by people travelling from all over the country and from the rest of Europe.
Highlight’s of this year’s Deaffest included the special celebration of 25 years of BBC See Hear; comedian John Smith presenting The John Smith Show; a special signed preview of the digitally restored Wizard of Oz; world Deaf cinema; open submissions and the launch of the Deaffest Bursary Scheme. Nikki Stratton, Festival Coordinator said, “The festival was a huge success with a varied programme of screenings including feature films, student work and short films submitted from Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand. We were privileged to have See Hear’s Series Editor Terry Riley who gave a presentation on the best of 25 years of BBC See Hear.
“The Deaffest Bursary Scheme was launched in the name of Ben Steiner who died tragically young in 2000. Ben was a talented and unique individual, who contributed, supported and fought for Deaf individuals and our community. He was a champion to those he treasured and a role model to those entering the interpreting profession. His lively and caring nature, and love for sign language, always and without doubt encouraged Deaf and hearing individuals to preserver and achieved their dreams.“
Further details of Ben Steiner’s Film Bursary scheme will be released next year, so watch this space!
We also heard from successful Deaf practitioners John Maidens (director of BBC Doctors), Ramon Woolfe (Remark!),Lesley McGilp (Television Producer) and Gordon Hay and it was agreed to establish a Deaffest Forum to be an all-yearround support for Deaf film and TV makers. We are now looking forward to planning Deaffest 2007 when we are hoping to build on this year’s successes and organise a bigger and better festival next year.”
The Festival gratefully acknowledges financial support from Screen West Midlands and UK Film Council Lottery fund and Wolverhampton City Council. Deaffest is also grateful for support and sponsorship from Red-Bee Media Ltd and Communication Plus for interpreting services and AC2.com Productions Ltd for editing services for the festival.