Young Deaffest was first launched in 2007 with the aim of encouraging, enabling and inspiring young deaf people and to develop their skills, including filmmaking and acting within the film and media industry.
The annual Young Deaffest offers opportunities such as workshops in scriptwriting and filmmaking, engagement in Deaf film and arts culture and introducing successful deaf role models, particularly deaf filmmakers in an attempt to inspire. Young Deaffest hosts the Young Deaffest Award where films are screened that are made by or star young deaf people. A winning film is then selected to receive the award.
Previous winning Young Deaffest films were The Tape (2008) directed by David Hay, Shanna Grummit and Stephen Collins, The World Today (2008) directed by Brian Duffy, David Sands and Simon Herdman, Near Fatal Attraction (2008) directed by Frazer Cockle, Hayley Shelton and Sebastiana Mazzocchio, Murder at the Manor (2009) directed by Warren Bell, 3 For 1 (2011) directed by Samuel Dore, Film Alone (2012) directed by pupils from Deansfield Community School, I Won’t Do That Again! (2014) and (The Battery Battle) (2014) both directed by William Horsefield and A Love Divided (2015) directed by Solar Bear Deaf Youth Theatre.
Getting involved can be a huge confidence boost for young deaf people especially to see their film screened at such a big event and be able to see at first hand the impact of all their hard work on a live audience! By taking part, many valuable skills will be gained and could even enhance future career prospects.
In 2012 Deaffest was privileged to appoint Alex Nowak, a young deaf actor, as the Ambassador for Young Deaffest. Alex is best known for his role as the despondent Luke in the award-winning film The End (2011), directed by Ted Evans. Alex’s film and TV credits include The Beach House (2011), Knight Knight (2012), Muted (2015) and Nonsense (2016).
Since 2012 Alex has acted as a role model for aspiring deaf actors, his success has also demonstrated what young deaf people can achieve. Alex spent a lot of time championing and promoting Deaffest’s visions and values, and in 2014 he took his experiences of Deaffest to Sri Lanka and set up their first Deaf festival: the Matara Deaf Film and Arts Festival.