Tonight I had the unique opportunity of viewing the ASL film Gerald at an event sponsored by a local deaf organization. I had never watched a movie entirely in ASL before. This film was audio free - no sound whatsoever. I found myself liking that aspect a great deal. Whenever I watch a movie that has been captioned with the sound effects included, I am distracted by the fact that I didn't hear the sound mentioned. I will ask anyone watching with me, "Did you hear that noise?" It was a relief not to have that distraction tonight. In fact, I didn't even mentally fill in the sounds either. I just embraced the quiet and felt drawn into the experience of someone profoundly deaf. All the characters in this movie sign. Some speak and naturally I found myself reading their lips. Fortunately for me and any other viewers who are not fluent in ASL, the film is subtitled in English.
The plot was compelling. Imagine that as the son of a single mother all your life you had longed for family connections. Now just when you are about to be married, you discover your mother hasn't told you the truth about your father. Even more pressing is the fact that you have an autistic grandfather who is about to be evicted from his nursing home. Would you be willing to take him into your home and care for him even at the risk of losing your fiancee? That is the dilemma faced by the main character.
I recommend this film highly. You can read a synopsis of Gerald and view its trailer at this website. To read more about the making of the film, specifically the parts played by the principal and middle school students of California School for the Deaf, check out this link, [a PDF document].