A LIFE WITHOUT WORDS

UNA VIDA SIN PALABRAS

By Adam ISENBERG

ZELA FILM - as PROD

Documentary - Completed 2011

In rural Nicaragua, Dulce María (28) and her brother Francisco (22) are Deaf and know no language--spoken, written or signed--until Tomasa, a Deaf sign-language teacher working for a local NGO, arrives determined to teach them their first words.

    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary, First film
    • Countries
    • NICARAGUA, TURKEY
    • Languages
    • Other, SPANISH
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Duration
    • 71 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Adam ISENBERG
    • Producer(s)
    • Senem TÜZEN (Zela Film)
    • Synopsis
    • What would life be like without language? For too many deaf people raised in rural outposts, access to a sign-language community is denied and they are condemned to a life without words. Such injustice deserves our attention and is explored with care in this haunting story of two Deaf siblings, Dulce Maria (28) and Francisco (22), who have been raised their entire lives without access to any written, spoken, or signed language on a farm in northern Nicaragua. They are visited by a Deaf sign-language teacher who works for a local NGO and is determined to teach the siblings their first words. As the two begin their awakening to language, their resistance is clear, but so is their marvel at the teacher and this process. Their stories are interwoven with the economic and familial history of their family. As we enter their isolated world, uncomfortable questions arise about education, psychology, language, ethics, class, and NGO work. With an unsettling mix of tragedy and hope, this moving work avoids hard and fast answers to the challenging questions it poses.
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      “The film, flowing with sublime images, is as poignant as it is captivating. We follow the awakening of Dulce Maria and Francisco with our heart hurting and a tight smile on our lips. Their “lives without words” reveal more than thousands of books. Not to be missed for anything.”
      -- La Dépêche du Midi
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      “A film of beautiful images and deep pain…it delves into the world of rural Latin America with a view that is neither anthropological nor paternalistic. “
      -- El Otro Cine (Equador)
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      “A masterpiece of aesthetic images and a plea for language as a fundamental human right.”
      -- DOK.fest Munich
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      “…beautifully shot, movingly thoughtful, and ultimately transporting cinematic experience. Audiences come away with renewed verve and excitement about the power of fine visual media to convey the human experience."
      --Ruth Cohen, American Museum of Natural History, Senior director of education strategic initiatives and director of the Center for Lifelong Learning
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      “A visually rich and emotionally powerful film…a film that transports you into another way of life--one which is both painfully difficult but also lifts the heart.”
      --Hearing Times (U.K.)
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      “It’s very existential….It makes you think about how extraordinary it is to have language…It’s beautifully done, in observational style and uses film so well to get across these different ways of communicating.”
      --Faye Ginsburg, Kriser Professor of Anthropology at New York University
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      "Top Five Latin American Documentaries of 2012"
      --Lucile de Calan, head programmer, Biarritz Latin American Film Festival, France
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