232 3rd Street @ 3rd Avenue
Gowanus/Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York 11217

In this smart and charming documentary, the world’s largest community of deaf people is suddenly given a gift that threatens to disrupt local heritage.

Voices from El-Sayed (Oded Adomi Leshem | Israel | 75 min.) New York Premiere.

Among the Bedouin people in El-Sayed, a village in Israel, deafness is a way of life. For hundreds of years, a large percentage of the population in this tightly-knit community have been born deaf. The people have created their own marriage customs—traditions that ensure the safety of all. They have developed their own unique sign language; where else would there be one simple sign for “goat’s meat stuffed in lemon leaf”? A group of talkative children of El-Sayed are delighted to express that particular sign to international linguists. Elsewhere, a set of brothers joke about the deficits of hearing, and take pride in their abilities—showing off benefits that will be obvious to the viewer (and listener).

This potential hardship helps create a supportive, community-wide bond. These are a people who have reached an emotional and intellectual balance with a trait that most of the world sees as a disability. That essential, poetic status is captured artfully by director Oded Adomi Leshem’s subtle use of sound and silence, and through the people’s charm and joy.

So when the state of Israel presents a generous offer to the village—a free hearing implant for any child—many of the Bedouin are skeptical. What need do they have for hearing? How will it change their traditions and disrupt their local heritage? Rumors circulate about the implants not working, of people removing them after being tormented by sound. But one man, hoping for an unencumbered future for his toddler son, decides to accept a cochlear implant for young Muhammad.

This decision begins a year-long struggle for the family and the community. Getting to the surgery itself is an ordeal in these occupied lands. The physical recovery is slow and painful. Simply having the device raises social issues for the village: off the Israeli power grid, the family must find a way to maintain power for Muhammad’s device. And for Muhammad, the adjustment is trying, as new and unusual sensations enter his head.

Many in the village doubt Muhammad will be happy. Wealthy Jewish boys in Tel Aviv are given the time and training to adjust, but in El-Sayed, whether because of pride or practicality, children don’t necessarily have that luxury. At times, even Salim, the father, doubts and regrets his decision, a painful admission for a father who only wanted to provide the best opportunities for his child.

But observing and listening to Muhammad’s training is fascinating and charming—mixing advanced science with primal noise making, and pairing rigorous educational tactics with the most basic fundamentals of childhood play. For the film audience and the village alike, Muhammad’s challenge, the people’s struggle, provides an engaging and enlightening lesson in the complexities and pleasures of communication. The Voices of El-Sayed is a lovely film that opens poignant questions about social stigmas and political divisions, about science and tradition, about family and community.

Venue: On the roof of the Old American Can Factory
Address: 232 3RD St. @ 3rd Ave. (Gowanus/ Park Slope, Brooklyn)
Directions: F/G to Carroll St. or M/R to Union Ave.
Rain: In the event of rain the show will be held indoors at the same location
8:00PM: Doors open
8:30PM: Live music presented by Sound Fix Records
9:00PM: Films
11:00PM–12:30AM: Reception in courtyard including free sangria courtesy of Carlo Rossi
Tickets: $9-$25 at the door or online

Presented in partnership with: Cinereach, The Israeli Cultural Consulate, New York magazine & XØ Projects

No refunds. In the event of rain, the show will be indoors at the same locations. Seating is first come, first served. Physical seats are limited. This means you may not get a chair. You are welcome to bring a blanket and picnic.

Added by BKLYNfoot on June 22, 2009

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