It's 4:30AM in Los Angeles as I'm still shaking off jet lag from a week in Melbourne with SEE WHAT I'M SAYING at The Other Film Festival. It was an extraordinary experience, and an honor to be in one of the premiere disability film festivals as the inaugural deaf program. This all-inclusive festival had Auslan interpreters (Australian Sign Language), ASL interpreters, audio description and captions for all of the films. We screened to a packed house at the Melbourne Museum. CJ and I did a Q&A after the film, and I was part of a panel discussion on directing deaf actors moderated by Ross Onley-Zerkel with Clayton Jacobson and his award-winning cast of I LOVE U. Highlights of the festival included getting to hang out with Academy Award winning director Adam Elliot, festival director and our host Rick Randall, the incredible festival staff (Dominque, Emily, Simone and others.) The other filmmakers' work were beyond inspirational, and it was an honor to meet Stella Young ("Carbon Whore"), Rob Spence ("Eyeborg"), Genevieve Clay ("Be My Brother") and the creators from the Restless Dance Company. The film that took home the festival award was "Nobody's Perfect," a mind-blowing documentary about 12 people affected by Thalidomide deciding to pose naked for a calendar. SEE WHAT I'M SAYING received an honorable mention at the awards ceremony, which was a huge compliment.
It was my first time in Australia, and I had an opportunity to pet kangaroos and hang out with the koalas at the Healesville Sanctuary. My new Australian friends taught me local expressions ("not to whing if I'm being shouted a flat white, lest I be bottled on Saturday arvo." - translated as "don't whine if someone buys me a cappuccino or someone will cut me with a bottle on Saturday afternoon." ) CJ had a chance to perform his comedy live at the Charcoal Lane restaurant after our screening to an appreciative crowd. I had an opportunity to audio describe SEE WHAT I'M SAYING to a sighted-impaired judge Tony, which was an incredible experience for me, as he was testing a theory that audio description is richer when coming from the director, although it was a unique challenge of balancing our subtitles while describing the action.
It was a great festival, a memorable week and an unforgettable experience. I'm already looking at ways to return with the film and more performers soon.