Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God (1986) introduced Marlee Matlin to the world. The film is seen as extremely important as well, having a deaf individual in the lead role (Matlin) using American Sign Language (ASL) throughout the film and showing a community of deaf people interacting with each other (Through). At the same time, the deaf community considers the film problematic. The lighting and framing of the film causes some of the ASL to be obscured, making it hard for deaf audience members to understand the “signed dialogue” (Schuchman 85). Furthermore, hearing characters do not always sign when they talk (Norden 288). There was also the problem of movie theaters lacking versions of the film with subtitles, as only ten of the 215 theaters showing the film in late 1986 “had captioned versions, often [showing the film] only on early Saturday and Sunday mornings” (288). This illustrates the accessibility issues that existed at the time pertaining to this film. As a result of these factors, the deaf community also regards this film as being geared toward a hearing audience (289).
– Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member
If you would like to get involved with RAFF Chicago please contact us at (773) 203-5039 or email Matt Lauterbach at firstname.lastname@example.org
Norden, Martin F. The Cinema of Isolation: A History of Physical Disability in the Movies.
New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994.
Schuchman, John S. Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry. Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1988.
Through Deaf Eyes. Dir. Diane Garey and Lawrence R. Hott. Perf. Marlee Matlin and CJ Jones.
DVD. PBS Home Video, 2007.