As clichéd as it may sound, I have always been (very unashamedly) one of those girls who loves being comfortably couched in front of a good old-fashioned-so-smoochy-it-makes-your-face-feel-fuzzy romantic comedy. In my eyes, the chick-ier the flick, well, the better. So, when the media company I work for presented me with the (not so optional) opportunity to preview a film that would appeal more to the sophisticated cinema nouveau appreciator of foreign film, I have to be entirely honest..I wasn’t particularly elated. That being said, work responsibility overruled my personal preference and with pop corn in hand, I watched “HOME”.
Now, upon the completion of the opening titles, I learnt very quickly that “HOME” isn’t exactly your standard artsy cinema nouveau candidate. No. Written for and acted by the Deaf, “HOME” is a 60 minute feature film performed entirely in sign language. For those who are now wondering if I am deaf, I hate to disappoint, but I am not. So, how did this self confessed RomCom-aholic manage to understand this beautifully expressive, yet alien language with its very own complex grammar and structure you may ask? Well, here comes the nifty part. The “HOME” audience is broad. Through subtitles, both the hearing and the Deaf can for the first time ever, watch and enjoy a movie together.
The very first of its kind in South Africa, CVC MEDIA, were approached by a local Deaf organization seeking to spread a message of hope to the Deaf community, and together the brain child was born and the rest is well, as they say, history. As a curious individual who seeks out the ‘WHY?’ with pretty much everything, I decided to do a little research of my own. I mean, why would an organization invest a lot of time and effort into a medium which for all intents and purposes is extremely dependent on epic music scores and the well executed one liner? Imagine “The Terminator” without Arnie’s “I’ll be back!”. Hello, point made! So, with that in mind, I went on a mission to educate myself about this socio-economic group, which to my surprise and quite frankly now my disgust, is a very overlooked people group in our nation. There are 600,000 ‘recorded’ Deaf, ‘sign language speaking’ people in South Africa. This statistic, although sizeable isn’t necessarily accurate. Statistics of the Deaf have been skewed by many individuals’ inability to complete national census forms or parents of Deaf children never officially registering their children as Deaf. As a result many precious lives have been marginalized. Particularly in the world of media. A world that the ‘hearing’ among us are constantly over stimulated by and I know, for one, take it for granted every single day. And so, enter “HOME”.
Now, if you’re sitting there reading this, able to hear the dull sound of traffic on the street outside or the quiet constant murmur of your computer, please don’t mistake my intention if you think this is some kind of fact packed guilt trip. No, indeed, it is rather the opposite. “HOME” is a Deaf movie that speaks volumes for inclusivity, offers hope, leaving no room for discrimination. Furthermore, and to my (sorry to say) astonishment, the plot, which is based on a biblical story, is powerfully portrayed by the actors. Without any audible spoken word and minimal background music (included for the hearing audience), it deals with issues surrounding family and the beauty of forgiveness in the midst of struggle. This film is a ‘story teller’ with an impactful plot that relates to our humanity without any prejudice toward the viewer.
So, with all that said… intrigued much? Well, “HOME” is launching nationwide in a local church near you during the weekend of May 24th– 26th 2013. If at first glance, you, like me, would have said this isn’t your cup of tea, well I challenge you to think a little differently and take a look. I’m not going to pretend to be any less the loved up RomCom fan, but I have learnt something valuable, not only from the movie’s message but also through daring to embrace that which is different, you can sometimes be pleasantly surprised. I do wonder if we could all learn to celebrate and support the things that fall outside of our usual tastes, preference and even prejudices,and experience what life looks like for those who have previously been excluded and disqualified. I’m daring to think that this is possible. Perhaps “HOME”, being released as a ‘first’, needn’t be a ‘last’? I guess that choice is ours.