Runtime: 4 minutes
Directors: Lisa Fannan, Alison Smith, Monika Smekot
BSL Interpretation and Performance: Alison Smith
By Morgan Roberts
It can be truly remarkable to see how much people can tackle in a short runtime. That is what we can see with the four minutes filmmakers Lisa Fannan, Alison Smith, and Monika Smekot use with their short film “Affirmation #6” (2020). The film is a reciting of poetry. The poetry covers global warming and human existence. But the reciting is not done in a typical theatrical way, but through British Sign Language (BSL). Smith performs the whole film through BSL, waving the words, the expressiveness of BSL, and images to the convey the story.
Recently, there have been more sign language such as 2020’s “Sound of Metal” and the upcoming Apple+ film “CODA.” But sign language and hearing are the core topics of discussion in both films. With this short film, it is just the means of communication and expression, not the subject. I was struck by the fact I have never seen a film in sign language that has not focused on it. It felt like watching a French-language or a Spanish-language film. I only speak English (well, American) and require subtitles, but hurdling that one inch barrier opened the door for me to enjoy so much cinema. At the end of the day, this short film not only touched on climate change, but did so in a way that makes me hopeful we are continuing to open film to more and more perspectives and languages.