Wonderstruck Community Dialogue – Convo


AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: So… why was Julianne Moore chosen, not a Deaf actor?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: I felt that those six Deaf actors playing hearing roles had to sacrifice their authenticity.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #3: I support having a hearing person act like a Deaf person. I am sorry to disagree with all of you.

MODERATOR: We are gathered here tonight to discuss the movie, of course, WONDERSTRUCK. We have some exciting things to talk about tonight.

LEILA: Our goal was to find ways for Convo as a Deaf-owned company to keep giving back to the Deaf community, and one of the ways we thought could do was to support the people in our community who were on the rise. Like Millicent, for example, and many others including business owners and various Deaf Talent.

We felt it was important to have a dialogue, but we didn’t want us to just have a dialogue within the community; we wanted to also have a dialogue with the people behind the film. We felt this would be most effective. As a result, Amazon Studios agreed and supported this idea by sending a producer of the film here.

Christine (Vachon) is here as the producer of WONDERSTRUCK. She felt this dialogue was important and wanted to come to support it. Having dialogue is something we should continue to do as that’s the only way we can create more opportunities.

So I’d like to thank and welcome Christine!

CHRISTINE: I really want to know your thoughts and experiences from watching the film.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: So… why was Julianne Moore chosen, not a Deaf actor?

CHRISTINE: I’m glad to answer that question. I’ve been making movies for a long time, like BOYS DON’T CRY and HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. I’ve made a career of different movies with an emphasis on the outsider’s voice.

With WONDERSTRUCK, we knew the path to production for us was to have a movie star in it. Now, that was the difficult part.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #4: From our group discussion, it seems the big theme in the movie is Deaf identity. We all discover our identity at different ages, like that women who just commented–she discovered hers two years ago due to hearing loss. We welcome her to the Deaf community.

Again, the movie is about Deaf identity, and most of us have agreed that the Deaf community is not reflected well in it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: I felt that those six Deaf actors playing hearing roles had to sacrifice their authenticity. I am Deaf myself, so I do not understand a hearing person’s experience.

I should therefore not act as a hearing person. So I think in a way there was clever–I don’t know if they planned this–but it was kind of clever to get Deaf people play hearing roles, so that it made it okay for hearing people to play Deaf roles. So did we shoot ourselves in the foot?

Another interesting thing is this: why were all the Deaf people in the black and white parts? And not in color. Why is that?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #5: To act or represent a certain group, it requires more coaching. Why not just get someone who’s already from that group?

CHRISTINE: In the 1920s… this was one thing we found out during our research, there were actually many deaf actors working in silent films back then. It was due to them being very facially expressive. So it was a real joy to find that. Maybe you don’t agree with me.

I’ve said before, “You know what, I am a lesbian.” I have seen a lot of, um… actors who portray gay and lesbian roles, and they’re not gay or lesbian themselves. I do also think, “Is this authentic?” I also do talk about what it means for my community. I absolutely agree. Authenticity is very important.

Also, as mentioned in the beginning, we had to figure out how to make a movie with the money allotted to us from different sources, to include movie stars who would allow us to shine the spotlight on different communities.

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