Deaffest, the UK’s only Deaf-led Film and Television Festival which celebrates the talents of Deaf filmmakers and media artists took place at Light House in Wolverhampton from 27 – 29 November, and saw attendances of 1300 people with a diverse mix of Deaf and hearing filmmakers, media practitioners, industry organisations, students and the general public from across the UK and overseas. The eleventh Deaf film & television festival to be held at Light House in Wolverhampton since 1998, the event attracts films directed and produced by Deaf filmmakers from the UK and all around the world including Spain, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea and Israel.
Film & TV Gala Awards
The highlight of the festival weekend was the Deaffest Film & TV Gala Awards which presented awards for the Best Drama, Best Experimental Film, Best Factual Film, and Best Deaf TV Programme. And the winners were:
Best TV Programme:
Wicked Series 2 Prog 1 Ramon Woolfe, UK, 2009
Best Experimental Film:
The Deaf Man Dir DJ Kurs, USA, 2007
Best Factual Film:
The Deaf Brain Dir Sarah Tavner, UK, 2009
Stiletto Dir William Mager, UK, 2008
Highly Commended: Glee Dir Jules Dameron, USA, 2009
The red carpet event was hosted by Sabina Iqbal, founder of Deaf Parenting UK and nominated as one of the most powerful Muslim Women in Britain by The Times, with entertainment from Australian Deaf comedian and mime artist Rob Roy who passed through on his world tour. The festival also featured a well attended opening launch with speeches from Cllr Neville Patten, Leader of Wolverhampton City Council; Dr Judith Burnett, Dean, School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications, University of Wolverhampton and Sara Clowes, Head of Education, Archive and Audience Development, Screen WM.
Matt Littler and Darren Jeffries
A Deaf History on Film session conducted by the Midland Archive for Central England provoked interesting discussion on rarely-seen archive TV material and the history and attitudes towards Deaf people and Sign Language. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK also donated a free screening of their latest animated adventure UP. The Young Deaffest Awards showcased work produced by young Deaf filmmakers and surprise guests to the festival Matt Littler and Darren Jeffries, previously known as Max and OB from Hollyoaks, presented prizes to the young Deaf filmmakers and talked about their varied television and presenting career.