Community Cinema Shines in Houston

Posted on October 28, 2011

HoustonPBS's Julie Coan provides some glowing feedback from a recent Community Cinema screening of Deaf Jam. The documentary, by filmmaker Judy Lieff, premieres on Independent Lens next Thursday, November 3.


We had an incredible turnout at the HoustonPBS Community Cinema screening of Deaf Jam with 175 people from all ages and ethnicities. A number of deaf students from Teague Middle School came with their teachers. An organization called Communication Axess Ability Group provided two interpreters for free so everyone could enjoy the evening. After the film we had a local ASL poet, Jonathan Leach, perform as well as two spoken word poets, Robyn Adams and Marcell Murphy. They were incredible.

During the panel discussion Jonathan communicated what it would have meant for him if he had a film like Deaf Jam when he was younger — it would have made his high school years a whole lot better. A gentleman with a local spoken word group for kids called, Meta Four Houston, stood up and said, “I never heard of ASL poetry before tonight. It’s beautiful. How can we get deaf kids involved with us?” At which point we directed him to the Teague kids and their teachers in the audience. Marcell Murphy stood up and said, “It’s great that we’re hooking the kids up, but what about the adults? They have things they want to express, too.  How can we get ASL Adults involved with our poetry slams?”

 It was just amazing. Two communities that probably would have never had a chance to come together, came together because of that film and the opportunity presented by Community Cinema. It was a beautiful thing. I wish you all could have been there to experience it. It was one of those nights when it becomes crystal clear that public media can and does make a difference in people’s lives. The deaf people in the audience left inspired and the hearing audience left enlightened (and probably inspired, too). Many thanks for this incredible opportunity. I’m honored to be part of Community Cinema. 

All the best, Julie Julie Coan Director of Communications & External Relations HoustonPBSLeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting

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