Sign the Show: Deaf Culture, Access, & Entertainment, by Cat Brewer, is a delightfully informational documentary that brings to light the struggles that individuals in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) community face when trying to gain access to interpreters at live shows. Whether it be concerts, festivals, plays, or comedy shows, this movie covers all the bases on how one should supply access to interpreters when scheduling large-scale events. Even though I may never know what it’s like to be deaf, this film has given me a better understanding of what it is like to live in their world.
The film starts off by talking about misconceptions around the deaf/HOH and music, some of which I had never thought twice about. Deaf people enjoy music for the lyrics and emotion, and live music brings another dimension into things. They are there for the vibration and the amazing experience of being immersed in a congregation who are feeling the same energy pulsing through them as you are. When given access to an interpreter, the HOH are better able to understand and appreciate the music that they are feeling. Without one, they are left high and dry, making the experience of a live show a negative one.
Through a decent portion of this film, I had to rely on subtitles to understand what was being communicated because I do not read American Sign Language. Similar to how deaf people depend on reading lips, interpreters, and subtitles to accurately understand what is happening, I relied on subtitles to accurately translate what they were communicating. I felt this was an ingenious way of making the hearing people watching realize how much they depend on hearing to understand and communicate with people. The content of this film is touching and they make it easy for viewers to connect and relate. They give various different perspectives on providing interpretation by talking to musicians, actors, comedians, interpreters (both deaf and hearing), and those in the deaf and HOH community. I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I love watching everything with subtitles. Whether it be a TV show, youtube video, or film, I will always turn on subtitles before I watch something. I feel they always help me better comprehend the material. I deeply appreciate the fact that this film provides subtitles as a part of the movie so everyone can enjoy it.
Production value could have been elevated if each section was given equal amounts of time and the transitions into each section could have been smoother. The first segment they cover is “Music”, which takes up most of the film. I enjoyed hearing the musicians talk about how they feel about accessibility and interpreters at their own shows. The “Theatre” section is a bit short and only lasted around 6 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed watching every second of the theatre section and wished that there was more to see! The “Comedy” section was a good length and I appreciated the anecdotes shared by the comedians.
Overall, this is an entertaining and educational movie that is perfect for all ages. I have not stopped thinking about this film ever since I have seen it, and every time I walk into a concert venue I look around and think to myself, “Where are the interpreters?” Sign the Show made me realize how privileged I am to live in a world that is tailor suited to my abilities, and it has also helped me realize how I can help my friends who have different abilities. But more importantly, it tells us how beautiful it is that we as humans can appreciate each other’s art, no matter how we experience the world.
Sign the Show: Deaf Culture, Access, & Entertainment screens at the Fall 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, October 2. It will play Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Director Cat Brewer will be present at the In-Person screening to do a Q+A after the showing.
To buy tickets go here:
For General Info on the Film Festival go here: