April 1, 2016 | Deaf Jam | Lewisburg, WV
Homemade chocolate chip cookies at check in to the General Lewis Inn was my first “taste” of Lewisburg, West Virginia. I couldn’t think of a better entre into the launch of Deaf Jam’s tour for Mid Atlantic’s On Screen/In Person program. My screening day began with a morning talk/discussion on “Tools for Engaging Diversity in the Arts” with Carnegie Hall Staff members, and artists and educators from the community. We talked about facilitating collaborations among diverse artists, finding acceptable terms to use, how language can contribute to shaping our assumptions about “disability,” and how we might find ways to become more inclusive as a society. It was an intimate gathering of professionals that allowed for time to get to know everyone and listen to some of the challenges they were facing.
With a few hours to spare between the lecture and screening, I decided to explore the town on foot. Lewisburg is an artsy treasure of a town filled with history, and warm interesting people. As a New Yorker, I had gotten so used to numbing myself to those one sees in passing, that It was a delight to engage in conversation with just about everyone I encountered. By the time I was heading back to screen Deaf Jam at Carnegie Hall that evening, I had labeled myself as a Lewisburg “Groupie.”
Carnegie Hall’s hosts, Lynn Creamer and Sara Crickenberger, programmed a terrific evening that included a pre-screening art opening and reception, along with a performance by this year’s Poetry Out Loud West Virginia State winner, Neely Seams, who just happened to be from Lewisburg!
The most poignant moment of this trip came via a post-screening email from a teacher who came with one of her deaf students: “overwhelmed with thanks to you for not only opening the world of ASL poetry to the hearing world but for giving isolated students from the deaf world the opportunity to see they are not alone.”
That kind of connection and impact is what makes all the hard labor that goes into documentary filmmaking so incredibly rewarding.
Post by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker Judy Lieff.