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The First WORLDEAF Cinema Festival

The inaugural WORLDEAF Cinema Festival (WDCF) at Gallaudet truly lived up to its name. The sold-out conference and festival welcomed deaf and hard of hearing filmmakers and film fans from around the globe to Kendall Green from November 4 to 7 for a weekend of discussions and panel presentations, as well as screenings of films by and about the deaf community.

In addition to drawing 250 conference attendees, the nominated films screened each day of the festival played to packed houses of film fans from all walks of life.

The pioneering festival drew national media attention, appearing in The Washington Post and USA Today, among others.

The events culminated with the red carpet WDCF Awards Ceremony on November 6, hosted by Gallaudet alumna and rising Hollywood star Shoshannah Stern, and acclaimed deaf actor of stage and screen Howie Seago.

The list of winning filmmakers included two students–James Caverly and Zilvinas Paludnevicius. Nearly 200 films from 30 countries vied for awards in seven categories.

Academy Award-winning actress and Gallaudet trustee Marlee Matlin was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Media Award went to British Sign Language Trust Chief Executive Terry Riley.

The WDCF filmmaker winners each received a customized WDCF trophy and a monetary prize to help fund future projects.

Other attendees included Gallaudet alumnus and rising Hollywood actor Russell Harvard, who will soon be seen as the title character in the upcoming film Hamill, alongside Stern; longtime Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr.; and President T. Alan Hurwitz.

“We hope that the winning filmmakers and their colleagues forge on in their pursuit of success in the film industry,” said Dr. Jane Norman, a director, and producer, and professor in the Communication Studies Department, who chaired the festival. “The WORLDEAF Cinema Festival was a labor of love, and we certainly hope to continue to further the art of deaf cinema by creating opportunities to showcase the work of talented deaf and hard of hearing filmmakers, actors, and artists of all kinds.”

Best Narrative (Feature/movie)
Film: Gerald
Filmmaker: Mark Wood

Best Documentary
Film: Anna’s Silent Struggle
Filmmakers: Tom Liszen and Willy Widner

Best Film about the Deaf Experience by a Hearing Filmmaker
Film: See What I’m Saying
Filmmaker: Hilari Scarl

Best Short
Film: Catch Santa
Filmmaker: Kamau Buchanan

Best Mini-15
Film: Hands Solo
Filmmaker: William Mager

Best College Student Short
Film: Living Off the Grid
Filmmaker: Zilvinas Paludnevicius

Best College Student Mini-15
Film: Red Line
Filmmaker: Zilvinas Paludnevicius and James Caverly

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