Deaffest 2010 was moved to the start of summer in May and was greeted with heatwave weather making it warm and sunny in the courtyard of the Chubb Buildings. The Friday night saw the launch of Deaffest 2010 with Director of Zebra Uno hosting opening speeches and revealing the highlights of the weekend ahead.

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Saturday saw an early start with an information fair in the courtyard, whilst in the cinema the film screenings kicked off with short films by UK Deaf filmmakers. BSLBT (British Sign Language and Broadcasting Trust) gave a presentation about their work and we welcomed former secretary of the Deaf Broadcasting Council and Chair of the British Deaf Association Austin Reeves. Films from the BSLBT Zoom scheme, a scheme where 6 British filmmakers were given £2000 each to produce a short film up to 15 minutes in length, were then screened.

Activities for our young visitors included the Young Deaffest films, face painting and balloon entertainment. The afternoon continued with a screening of Anna’s Silent Struggle, a heartfelt documentary directed by Tom Linszen and Willy Lindwer from The Netherlands, and International films from France, Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong. Rich Warren, Programme Manager from Bristol’s Encounters International Film Festival presented a talk entitled Gateway to Mainstream giving advice to Deaf filmmakers on how to get their films into mainstream festivals.

Deaffest 2010 saw the return of the Ben Steiner Bursary and a group of Deaf filmmakers presented their pitches to a panel of judges and answered questions fired at them by the judges. The judging panel included last year’s winner of the Bursary Bim Ajadi, Deaf TV and film director Louis Neethling, Senior Lecturer in Video and Film Production at University of Wolverhampton Tracy McCoy, and Producer, Director and Video Editor of Funf Media Austin Duffy.

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The winner of the bursary was Stephen Collins, aged 25, for his pitch for the film Luke Starr – watch out for this at next year’s festival!  Luke said, “I can’t believe it. It was a shock because I genuinely felt it was a tough competition. Now I am excited to put together my vision into reality and want to thank everyone for their support in believing in me.”

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Judge panellist and previous Ben Steiner Bursary winner Bim Ajadi said “I’m really pleased Stephen won the bursary as he’s someone who will bring something refreshing to Deaf films and fully deserved it. His pitch was outstanding and really drew me into his story.”

The evening concluded with a screening of the Best of the South West short films from Encounters International Film Festival 2009 and the announcement of the Best in festival award which went to Louis Neethling for his film Departure Lounge. On Sunday audiences also had the opportunity to watch Tim Burton’s latest film Alice in Wonderland for free.

The festival saw attendances of over 1000 visitors.  Here is some feedback from this year’s Deaffest:

“Great choice of films this year”

“Wonderful to see a fantastic new generation of young filmmakers”

“As someone learning BSL these films were a great insight into deaf culture”

“Wonderful weekend”

“Highly entertaining and informative”

Deaffest 2011 will be held on 20 – 22 May and will see the return of the Film & TV Gala Awards.