Here we go! The final commentary of this year’s Academy Award show – The Oscars! As I mentioned in the first segment – this is a long commentary because the Academy’s President did not make a statement as the previous Academy’s President did. But there was plenty to talk about from the host, presenters and award winners. And we have finally reach the end (in parts)! But let me first give links to the first four segments in case you missed any or for quick reference:
Okay. Now onto my final Segment. And like the previous Segment that had lyrics and some presenters’ remarks typed out, transcribed and making them a bit long – this one does similarly because what is said is so important to diversity and the entertainment industry. So at first I broke this Segment into 3 sub-segments. But that doesn’t change then length. So instead this is going to be a Segment that will be in 3 blog entries. Oscar’s 90th – Segment 5 – Diversity and The Newest Hollywood Term – A, B, and C.
A. Deafness disAbility
B. Diversity Video Montage
C. The Optional Contract Clause
This way if you feel like you get the point before I reach the end of each sub-segment (because I have been told that I can be a bit lengthy in my speech!!! Especially if it is on a topic I am passionate about!!!) you can jump over to the next sub-segment and begin that sub-section. Because this final Segment Oscar’s 90th – Segment 5 – Diversity and The Newest Hollywood Term – I have left the most important parts of this year’s Oscars when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion within Hollywood. So here it goes with the first of the three!
A. Deafness disAbility
I want to start this segment with the Oscar given for “Best Live Action Short Film.” The winner, “The Silent Child” was directed by Chris Overton and written and starred by Rachel Shenton. “The Silent Child” is a British sign language short film.
It also stars six-year-old actress, Maisie Sly, who is profoundly deaf and uses British sign language.
The film is about a young girl who is profoundly deaf and born to hearing parents. The girl portrayed by Maisie, who was five-years-old when filming, has no way of communicating until a social worker, portrayed by writer and actress Rachel Shenton, teaches her British sign language. A better description is from the film’s website and reads in part:
“Set in rural England and Inspired by real life events. The Silent Child film centres around a profoundly deaf four year old girl named Libby who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.”
We have seen Oscar movies nominated that portray racial minorities, LGBT and one other with a disAbility, in the featured length movie, “The Shape of Water” that has a character who is mute but is not portrayed by a person with a disAbility – so “The Silent Child” is the authentic film deserving my attention and wholehearted praise for casting an actress with the same disAbility as the character!
And according to the director, Chris Overton and the crew, Maisie who was 5 years old at the time of shooting was already an amazing actress. Check it out in this Behind The Scenes – The Silent Child video! Again PROOF that Hollywood needs to know, acknowledge and include people with a disAbility because they can act and we can also be in the creative roles as the voice – the writer, and in vision – the director of movies in the entertainment industry.
I saw this film two weeks ago. I found it at Amazon but it is only available with all of the Oscar nominated Live Action and Animated Short Films. And it is costs between $4.99 for those with Amazon Prime subscription to $7.99 for those who do not. But I also found it on Google Play as a stand-alone film that costs $1.99 for SD (Standard Definition) or $2.99 for HD. That is where I bought and watched it.
This is well worth it! If the link does not work for you I suggest you Google “The Silent Child short film”. It is only 20 minutes long and shows how people with a disAbility are sometimes thought of, misunderstood and treated by others and even how some family members deal with children with a disAbility. This film is dealing with someone whose disAbility is being profoundly deaf. I heard of people being deaf but had to look up “profoundly deaf” to know what that means and found that it means “the person cannot hear anything at all; they are unable to detect sound, even at the highest volume possible.” Regardless of the level of deafness this film shows things that people with all kinds of disAbility can and do come across. And many of us with a disAbility can relate to this story. It is also a wonderful way – through film – to tell this story. I recommend this film to everyone. You never know what might happen to you that might result in you becoming disAbled. Or being able to relate to, accept and deal with someone whom you love becomes disAbled. That is what happened to Rachel Shenton when her father suddenly became profoundly deaf as a side-effect of chemotherapy when she was 12 years old. She went on to learn British Sign Language and has worked on raising money and awareness for a variety of Deafness Charities and educational programs. You can get a glimpse of that in the “Behind the Scenes – The Silent Child” video that is linked above.
Rachel has been acting for years and first becoming famous for her role in the British television show, “Hollyoaks” beginning in 2010. That is where she met her fiancé and the director of “The Silent Child”, Chris Overton. So as you can see disAbilities can and do effect more than just those who have either been born with or acquired a disAbility. And as I have said before that the nearly 20% of Americans with a disAbility are in 1 in 4 households – that is 25% of American households have a person with a disAbility. Think of all those people within the household who are also effected by someone with a disAbility. So having them so excluded from mainstream movies and television is dismissing them as a part of American society. I praise and love to watch the one authentic network television show, “Speechless” because it shows just that, a person with a disAbility living within a household and the effect it has on all the family members. That is what is captured by Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton in “The Silent Child.”
I did not know about this film until the nominees for the Live Action Short Film were presented at the Oscars. And then when it won, Rachel and Chris went up to accept the award, Rachel spoke first and used British Sign Language as she thanked the Academy. The reaction from social media blew up and was overwhelmingly positive! Here is my favorite video of her acceptance speech. It is a Mashable video of Rachel Shenton Using Sign Language in Her Oscar Acceptance Speech and has Captions/subtitles and also tells a little about the film! It is only 1 minute and 35 seconds long! Or if you prefer, here it is from the Oscar’s YouTube channel: “The Silent Child” wins Best Live Action Short Film. It does not offer Captions/subtitles option. And as I have done with other speeches from either presenters or winners, here is the transcript of her acceptance speech in case they take down the videos that are linked.
Rachel Shenton (While using British Sign Language):
“I made a promise to our six year old lead actress that I would sign this speech. My hands are shaking a lil’ bit and so I apologize. (Applause) Thank you. Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence. It’s not exaggerated or sensationalized for the movie. This is happening. Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers and particularly access to education. So, deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life threatening, so I want to say the biggest of thank you’s to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience. (She steps aside and motions to her fellow Award winner, Chris Overton. Audience applauds.)
I could put nearly the whole speech in bold! Wonderful speech in such a short period. Of course I also look at this in how it relates to my disAbility as a paraplegic. And to people with a disAbility in general. There are millions of Americans – 56 million with a disAbility. And if it is not life threatening such as deafness, blindness, or those with a mobility disAbility such as mine, are rarely given any representation in Hollywood’s movies and television. And as she ends by given thanks to the Academy for bringing this issue through her film to a mainstream audience that is another point that I applauded as it is one that I advocate for all those with a disAbility and have as my Abilities United Productions’ motto “An Authentic Voice, Vision and Representation of Paraplegics in Mainstream Entertainment.”
And to be fair to the director and partner in making this film here is Chris Overton’s acceptance speech when Rachel handed him the microphone.
Chris Overton (He does not sign):
This was such a team effort so I’ve got to say thank you to our parents for making and selling cupcakes so we could… (Rachel leans into the microphone and says “Thank you, Mum” as she waves to her) yes, for helping us finish the film. Thanks to everyone who backed our Indiegogo campaign. Thank you Vanessa Johnstone, Terry Murphy, all our executive producers, Danny Ormerod, everyone at Slick Showreels, and Slick Films. All our incredible cast and crew, Maisie Sly, Julie Foy, Rebecca Harris, Ali Farahani, we couldn’t do it without you. But lastly, my fiancée, Rachel Shenton, it’s really your hard work for the last 12 years that has really made this project authentic. Thank you so much, guys.” And then signs as he says, “Thank you all so much.”
He gives more of the traditional acceptance speech and it is important to thank those that helped you make and distribute the film. And of course to his fiancé who as he pointed out was the one that worked so hard and for 12 years for a short film! And her personal effect to a person and people in general with a disAbility – years of advocating and working to help make a change to assist those with deafness disAbility is wonderful and helps make this film authentic. In my research of her for this blog entry I found several quotes from her in which this is not just a passion for helping break down barriers for those with a deafness disAbility and particularly in education in the schools but also in the entertainment industry. Here is one I want to highlight and give the link to the article that I found it.
Diversity, she says, is, however, about more than race and gender. “It’s really important to remember that disability is diversity, and that disabled actors and disabilities are something that is hugely underrepresented in film.” https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/film/rachel-shenton-interview-the-silent-childs-oscar-win-is-just-the-start-a3784701.html
Thank you, Rachel Shenton! Again something I have been working hard for others to accept. That people with a disAbility need to be included in the discussion of diversity and that we are a minority.
Here is where I got these two photos of supporters from Australia! – Sydney Indie Film Festival
And here are just some from The Silent Child Facebook page:
And this one that includes Maisie and Rachel, two others I do not know – plus 76 more!
DISABILITY IS DIVERSITY — DisAbility is a very large minority group that is hugely underrepresented in films and television. We are not some small part of the population that wants to have more than is deserved. We are extremely large – 20% of the American population – and how many of us are represented in movies and television? I am going to leave it there for now. I thank people who recognize and speak out about this and therefore that is why I am giving a lot of attention to Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton for this Oscar winning Live Action Short Film and Rachel’s incredible acceptance speech and work on behalf of those with a deafness disAbility.
I do want to touch on that term, deafness disAbility. Rachel speaks of it in those terms. Deafness disAbility or as in her acceptance speech she refers to it as “deafness is a silent disability.” Now I will point out that she is from Great Britain and the culture of disAbility is somewhat different there. It has been my experience personally and from others with a mobility disAbility when talking about the 56 million Americans with a disAbility and uniting us to work at being more included in films and television – people with a hearing impairment – the deafness community in general do not consider themselves with a disAbility. And therefore do not want to be included in the group of “people with a disAbility.” They consider themselves as having a hearing impairment and that is not a disAbility. I disagree and when you apply the standards and the parameters of what constitutes a disAbility I do think they are part of our community. And even for those who disagree with that, there is no argument that they too are part of those that are hugely underrepresented in films and television. So when Rachel did make that connection – on a huge stage such as the Oscars – I applauded that as well! And I only bring this up here because some in the deaf community might find my speaking of it and quoting Rachel of the deafness disability as offensive. I am not intentionally being offensive. I am bringing it up from what Rachel believes and I believe. And I hope we can come together and work together as a community of people with a disAbility who are obviously being excluded in movies and television. Regardless of how some feel about deafness being or not being a disAbility – I do and I am highlighting this film, its writer, star and director in this blog entry because it is extremely important and wonderful representation for people who are profoundly deaf and those with other disAbilities to be recognized. Therefore I strongly encourage everyone to see “The Silent Child” and to recommend it to their family and friends. Help show your support for this kind of authentic representation of people with a disAbility in films and television!
Extra: The Silent Child’s Facebook page where you can watch a lot of videos about the film and the star Maisie Sly! Congrats to “The Silent Child” for its Oscar win!
Next is – Oscar’s 90th – Segment 5 – Diversity and The Newest Hollywood Term – B. Diversity Video Montage