Friday 17th May 2013
Deaffest made a triumphant return to the 2013 calendar to celebrate its 8th Festival at Light House, Wolverhampton. Packed with exciting new initiatives, this year’s Deaffest presented its first Young Actors and Scriptwriters Day, aimed at inspiring young deaf people aged between 13 – 18 years old in the creative performance arts. This included a drama workshop led by the talented and well-known Deafinitely Theatre company director Paula Garfield. A second workshop was led by Kalen Feeney who joined us all the way from the USA. Kalen is renowned for her role as scriptwriter and has produced scripts for the infamous CSI programmes. Deaffest was privileged to have Kalen passing on her expertise as well as being a positive Deaf role model for the young, buzzing scriptwriter wannabes! As part of this educational day, Young Deaffest Ambassador Alex Nowak also led a Q & A session on his video diary “The Life of a Deaf Actor” which further inspired all the young people present. A total of 30 plus students from all over the UK attended. This turned out to be a stimulating and valuable experience for everyone involved.
An air of anticipation greeted guests as they arrived for the evening events which commenced with the celebration of Zebra Uno’s 10th Anniversary, one of Deaffest’s largest sponsors, taking place in the Light House courtyard. There was a black and white theme to resemble the company colours and an addition of silver to mark the 10th anniversary. The atmosphere was vibrant with twinkling fairy lights, bunting and a group of waiters/waitresses in matching attire handing out canapés and drinks to all guests.
Clive Mason hosted the event and presented the two well-known Deaf directors of Zebra Uno, Nikki Stratton and Marilyn Willrich with their anniversary cake decorated with sparkling candle fountains. Entertainment by Magician Mark Barber kept guests amused and everyone enjoyed catching up with old friends and new on the bustling courtyard.
In the cinema, both directors delivered an inspirational presentation, which was followed by a show reel of successful films and projects that the company has been involved in over the last 10 years. Zebra was also presented with an award designed by talented local University of Wolverhampton student Joe Weaver, in recognition of their 10 year anniversary.
The official launch of Deaffest 2013 followed, getting off to an emotional start with the screening of the exclusive Richard Griffiths film interview which captured many people’s hearts as he sadly passed away in April this year. Richard Griffiths was Deaffest’s first patron. It was enlightening to see Richard sign throughout his interview. He used some old signs adopted from his parents and portrayed a great deal of old fashioned fingerspelling. The interview was filmed and presented by Zebra Uno.
Following this came the moment everyone had been waiting for – the screen launch of the winning Ben Steiner film bursary award film ‘Retreat’. It featured very high quality filming and actors; it also had a great twist. The audience was spellbound as the final scene came into play, and huge applause greeted Ted Evans the winner and talented director of the Ben Steiner Bursary film, as he mounted the stage to give a speech.
In addition to this, a behind the scenes film of ‘Retreat’ was shown: ‘the Making of Ben Steiner Bursary Film 2013’. This was an educational film showing how the movie was made and the difficulties Ted was faced with. Ted Evans gave a warm and proud presentation of his film and the film indeed reflected his skills, ability and creativity as a professional director.
Deaffest welcomed back two talented members of the Deaf dance group Def Motion, Billy Reid and Christopher Fonseca who performed individually and wowed the audience with their expressional and creative dance.
At the end of the screenings Clive Mason notified every one of the forthcoming events throughout the Deaffest weekend. The eager crowd then gathered on the courtyard again and continued to party until the early hours.