A crossed telephone line propels Receiver into a suite of heated and intimate conversations in which we encounter scenes of protest at a university for D/deaf students, Q&A cross-fire interrogation, vocal confrontations and lip-reading practice. In its various moods the film presents a heady and multi-layered assemblage of Deaf histories, drawing on research into The Milan Conference of 1880 which led to a ban on teaching sign language in schools for deaf people. Receiver considers how we both speak and listen, and the question of who has the right and capacity to be heard. —Jenny Brady
Receiver is fully captioned for D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences
Continuing Jenny Brady’s practice of visually engaging, affective filmmaking, Receiver confronts the assumptions we have with approaches to sound. The film is a collage of Deaf histories, with its centerpiece the Deaf President Now protest at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. in 1988. A landmark event of resistance, in which D/deaf students protested with demands including the selection of a deaf president of the university, it catalyzed students’ need for representation and their solidarity through direct action.
If there is a receiver, there is also a sender, and the film investigates how exchange—of words, feelings, sounds or ideas—is mediated, negotiated, represented and understood. Brady’s sensitive filmmaking finds space for even the most seemingly inconsequential of volleys: a close-up shot of a candle’s flame being extinguished, while we later see the person who blew it out, as well as a similar blow of air into her face from a force off-screen. In this way, Receiver‘s short running time belies the fact that the film is brimming with ideas and information that can be unpacked through subsequent viewings. —Herb Shellenberger