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Film series highlights deaf experiences during the pandemic

Deaf films
Posted at 4:05 PM, Jul 06, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas — Some of us don’t think of a working laundry machine as a luxury, but it just might be.

“I broke down and cried, once or twice, every day that month,” said Leila Hanaumi, "We were locked down, we had to stay home and our washing machine literally broke and flooded the whole first floor.”

Hanaumi’s washing machine didn’t just break. It shut down her whole kitchen.

It was hard, but it was a learning experience that stuck with her

“It really taught me that if I don’t have my basic needs met then the idea of think of myself, thinking about my life, my goals becomes really a luxury," said Hanaumi.

Hanaumi is deaf and this experience made her think about the struggles of other members of the deaf community during the pandemic.

So, she had an idea.

“So, this campaign is called Human Actually. It’s really a conversation and a film series. The intention is to talk about our humanness, our human needs from deaf and rejected perspectives,” said Hanaumi.

It's a series of five films all created and made by deaf filmmakers, each based on one of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The five needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

“We both really felt passionate as queer people to write about a trans child because we felt like in the deaf community, really there are no resources for deaf, trans kids or LGBTQI kids,” said Josh Castille.

Josh and Jules Dameron of Hypernova Productions wrote and directed episode two of the series called “Mayson,” based on the need of safety.

The film follows a young transgender girl, Mayson, and the safety she needs from her home.

“I feel like the hearing world, in general, has access to a plethora of content. It’s so easy to find information in particular areas, you know, including trans information,” said Dameron.

The other four films show different aspects of deaf life, culture, and challenges as well as highlight the need from the hierarchy they were assigned.

But one of the most important things the filmmakers and organizers say the film series did was give deaf actors and filmmakers a chance to represent themselves. It's something they hope to see more of as deaf stories get more exposure.

“For me, I would like to see that representation frequently. The only thing is, are they representing me correctly? If they are, that’s important,” said Dameron.

“It’s about really creating a lasting change in our community by representing on the screen, showing real deaf people fulfilling their needs through the film,” said Hanaumi.