In the Land of the Deaf


1h 39m 1992

Brief Synopsis

An illuminating documentary profile of the globe's sixth continent -- the world of the deaf.

Film Details

Also Known As
Les Pays Des Sourds
Release Date
1992
Production Company
BBC (Main Listing); Bbc Films; Centre National Du Cinema; La Sept Cinema; StudioCanal

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m

Synopsis

An illuminating documentary profile of the globe's sixth continent -- the world of the deaf.

Film Details

Also Known As
Les Pays Des Sourds
Release Date
1992
Production Company
BBC (Main Listing); Bbc Films; Centre National Du Cinema; La Sept Cinema; StudioCanal

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m

Articles

In the Land of the Deaf - Nicolas Philibert's Acclaimed 1992 French Documentary


Do not attempt to adjust your video monitor - the first few minutes of Nicolas Philibert's award-winning documentary In the Land of the Deaf (Le Pays des sourds, 1992) unspool in almost complete silence. As a troupe of deaf performers rehearse at music stands for an upcoming presentation, their hands saw the air, their faces expressive, elastic, the only sounds coming from the rustle of their clothing. Philibert's tack has a two-pronged efficacy, eliminating what is unnecessary and at the same time putting the (presumably hearing-abled) viewer at a disadvantage, in so doing evoking the very sense of isolation that is well known to anyone born with a hearing disability. Eschewing narration and the barrage of statistical information that is expected for a documentary interested in both identifying a social disparity and arguing for change, In the Land of the Deaf sticks with its subjects and allows them to tell their own stories, in their own words or lack thereof.

Philibert's documentary has many contributors but two distinct stars, so to speak - the fiftyish Jean-Claude Poulain, a teacher of French sign language, and pint-sized Florent Desjardins, a grade school boy taking his first tremulous steps towards having control over his life. The two, who never interact onscreen, could not be more different. Bald and bearded, Poulain is a born performer, a comedian and philosopher, whose face and hands never stop working the air while the wide-eyed, fragile-looking Florent is seen, early on, at the point of tears as his emotions overwhelm him in class. The film crew follows Florent's progress as he masters French sign language and a limited facility for speech, which Philibert punctuates with glimpses into the lives of other Deaf people, who tell their stories to camera and share their daily lives: family meals, visits to the Louvre, marriage ceremonies, apartment-hunting, performance and in tear-streaked airport farewells with friends. The stories are as informative as they are heartrending: of Deaf school children in decades past whose hands were tied behind their backs to prevent them from using sign language, of a 15 year-old girl whose handicap prompted her parents to institutionalize her with the insane, and of another young person who never saw a Deaf adult until a trip to school in America dispelled early concerns that all Deaf people died before they were twenty.

Released in France in 1992, In the Land of the Deaf made the festival circuit throughout the decade and earned a Peabody Award in the United States in 1998 when it was broadcast on public television. When the film was given a Region 2 release by Second Run DVD in the United Kingdom in 2005, it was presented in anamorphic 1.66:1, with a brief introduction by Nicolas Philibert. For its Region 1 debut from Kino International, Philibert's intro has been dropped (as has a supplementary essay by American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum) and the original aspect ratio is rendered at a tighter but never ruinous 1.85:1. Kino's disc, like the film itself, is bare bones, stripped down and essential; there are no extras. The image is clear but has the grain and denatured color palate of its source materials. Kino's English translation (rendered in optional subtitles) is new but also sparse, translating only what the filmmakers feel is necessary in telling this story, keeping the viewer at a slight disadvantage to approximate the necessary and often exhilarating discomfort that attends the birth of a new language.

For more information about In the Land of the Deaf, visit Kino Lorber. To order In the Land of the Deaf, go to TCM Shopping.

by Richard Harland Smith
In The Land Of The Deaf - Nicolas Philibert's Acclaimed 1992 French Documentary

In the Land of the Deaf - Nicolas Philibert's Acclaimed 1992 French Documentary

Do not attempt to adjust your video monitor - the first few minutes of Nicolas Philibert's award-winning documentary In the Land of the Deaf (Le Pays des sourds, 1992) unspool in almost complete silence. As a troupe of deaf performers rehearse at music stands for an upcoming presentation, their hands saw the air, their faces expressive, elastic, the only sounds coming from the rustle of their clothing. Philibert's tack has a two-pronged efficacy, eliminating what is unnecessary and at the same time putting the (presumably hearing-abled) viewer at a disadvantage, in so doing evoking the very sense of isolation that is well known to anyone born with a hearing disability. Eschewing narration and the barrage of statistical information that is expected for a documentary interested in both identifying a social disparity and arguing for change, In the Land of the Deaf sticks with its subjects and allows them to tell their own stories, in their own words or lack thereof. Philibert's documentary has many contributors but two distinct stars, so to speak - the fiftyish Jean-Claude Poulain, a teacher of French sign language, and pint-sized Florent Desjardins, a grade school boy taking his first tremulous steps towards having control over his life. The two, who never interact onscreen, could not be more different. Bald and bearded, Poulain is a born performer, a comedian and philosopher, whose face and hands never stop working the air while the wide-eyed, fragile-looking Florent is seen, early on, at the point of tears as his emotions overwhelm him in class. The film crew follows Florent's progress as he masters French sign language and a limited facility for speech, which Philibert punctuates with glimpses into the lives of other Deaf people, who tell their stories to camera and share their daily lives: family meals, visits to the Louvre, marriage ceremonies, apartment-hunting, performance and in tear-streaked airport farewells with friends. The stories are as informative as they are heartrending: of Deaf school children in decades past whose hands were tied behind their backs to prevent them from using sign language, of a 15 year-old girl whose handicap prompted her parents to institutionalize her with the insane, and of another young person who never saw a Deaf adult until a trip to school in America dispelled early concerns that all Deaf people died before they were twenty. Released in France in 1992, In the Land of the Deaf made the festival circuit throughout the decade and earned a Peabody Award in the United States in 1998 when it was broadcast on public television. When the film was given a Region 2 release by Second Run DVD in the United Kingdom in 2005, it was presented in anamorphic 1.66:1, with a brief introduction by Nicolas Philibert. For its Region 1 debut from Kino International, Philibert's intro has been dropped (as has a supplementary essay by American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum) and the original aspect ratio is rendered at a tighter but never ruinous 1.85:1. Kino's disc, like the film itself, is bare bones, stripped down and essential; there are no extras. The image is clear but has the grain and denatured color palate of its source materials. Kino's English translation (rendered in optional subtitles) is new but also sparse, translating only what the filmmakers feel is necessary in telling this story, keeping the viewer at a slight disadvantage to approximate the necessary and often exhilarating discomfort that attends the birth of a new language. For more information about In the Land of the Deaf, visit Kino Lorber. To order In the Land of the Deaf, go to TCM Shopping. by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the top documentary prize at the 1993 Valladolid International Film Festival.

Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1992 Entrevues Festival du Film de Belfort.

Winner of the Grand Prix at the 1992 Festival dee Popoli in Florence, Italy.

Released in United States Fall September 9, 1994

Released in United States September 14, 1994

Released in United States August 1992

Released in United States November 1992

Released in United States December 1992

Released in United States October 1993

Released in United States 1994

Shown at Locarno International Film Festival August 5-15, 1992.

Shown at Entrevues Festival du Film de Belfort November 1992.

Shown at Festival dei Popoli in Florence, Italy December 1992.

Released in United States Fall September 9, 1994

Released in United States September 14, 1994 (Film Forum; New York City)

Shown at Valladolid International Film Festival October 22-30, 1993.

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 28 - May 12, 1994.

Released in United States August 1992 (Shown at Locarno International Film Festival August 5-15, 1992.)

Released in United States November 1992 (Shown at Entrevues Festival du Film de Belfort November 1992.)

Released in United States December 1992 (Shown at Festival dei Popoli in Florence, Italy December 1992.)

Released in United States October 1993 (Shown at Valladolid International Film Festival October 22-30, 1993.)

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 28 - May 12, 1994.)