UPDATE: The WORLDEAF Cinema Awards Ceremony will be streamed live via the Web on Saturday, November 6, at 8 p.m. Watch the awards to learn who wins in each of the seven categories.

Stars of the stage and screen helped kick off the WORLDEAF Cinema Festival (WDCF) at Gallaudet on November 4, opening an international gathering featuring films, exhibits, and panel discussions.

A morning opening brought welcomes by WDCF Chair Jane Norman, President Alan Hurwitz, award-winning actress and WDCF Honorary Chair Marlee Matlin, Film Commissioner Kathy Hollinger of the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, and Panasonic Corporation of North America’s Director of Corporate Outreach Programs Penny Joseph.

Dr. Carol Padden, a celebrated linguist at the University of California at San Diego, trustee emerita, and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Fellowship, gave the keynote address. Padden discussed what it means to tell stories about the deaf community in a rapidly-changing global landscape.

Members of the press were greeted at noon by Dr. Hurwitz, Dr. Norman, Hollywood actors, and Gallaudet University alumni Russell Harvard and Shoshannah Stern, WDCF award nominee Kamau Buchanan, and acclaimed deaf actor Howie Seago.

“Gallaudet is honored to host this remarkable event,” said Hurwitz, adding that he was pleased to see WDCF add “the unique perspective of deaf and hard of hearing filmmakers.”

Norman noted the inclusivity of the films, explaining that each has either closed captioning or subtitles, and many involved collaborations among hearing and deaf artists. “It is a positive when you have both deaf filmmakers and hearing filmmakers working together…When you make that connection between deaf and hard of hearing people, there is a double gain,” Norman said.

Stern and Harvard expressed their appreciation for the chance to return to their alma mater.

“I am so honored to be here,” said Stern. “This is just such an inspiring event.” She noted that this was a memorable homecoming for her and Harvard. “I feel that we have come full circle now that both of us are here at Gallaudet,” she said. Stern also noted, “I was always inspired to see the creativity of the deaf community.”

WDCF continues through November 7, with a red-carpet awards ceremony and reception on the evening of November 6.

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