CFS finds art in ‘Silence’

Ryan Doyle

While many students at Villanova think that their parents don’t listen to them, what if they actually couldn’t? The film Beyond Silence explores this situation.

This 1996 German movie, directed by Caroline Link, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Picture. It employs both humor and drama to explore the childhood and blooming maturity of a girl named Lara and the connection she has with her parents, both of whom are deaf.

Lara’s bond with her mom and dad goes beyond the usual daughter/parent relationship, as she is the primary connection between them and the hearing world. Thus, Lara’s parents are dependent upon her, an interesting wrinkle in the usual family dynamic.

In a world where some parents try to control the messages their children receive, it is interesting to see how kids would use that power if the shoe was on the other foot.

For example, Lara’s grade school teacher criticizes her in front of her parents. However, Lara signs her way out of trouble, claiming the teacher is singing her praises instead of criticizing her, and her parents buy it.

Conflict arises during Lara’s teenage years. At an age where most people are trying to find their own identity, Lara is torn between following that path or continuing to assist her parents.

The fact that she develops a passion for music makes the choice even harder, as this is the one thing that her parents cannot experience or understand.

Link started out wanting to make a film about a father/daughter conflict, but changed the scenario to be about hearing vs. deafness after reading a newspaper article about a young woman in Lara’s situation.

The director then made the decision to have the parents played by deaf actors, but was unable to find German actors who fit the bill. She eventually wound up casting a deaf American actor and a deaf French actress for the two roles.

To remain true to the source material, both actors had to take a crash course in German sign language, so that the lines they signed did not get lost in translation.

Beyond Silence is the sixth movie in the current Cultural Film and Lecture Series.

It will be screened four times: Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31 at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students and $5 for all others.

At the Monday screening only, Heidi Rose, an associate professor in the Communication Department and a student favorite, will both provide an introduction to the film, as lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, feel free to visit the CFS web page, or call x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.