Breaking Silence

Breaking Silence explores the relationship between a deaf father and his hearing daughter, reflecting on how imprisonment has shaped their relationship and their advocacy.

Leslie Walker and her dad, Walker
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2023 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)-Texas Shorts Award
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    2023 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)-Audience Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2023 Atlanta Film Festival-Best Doc Short
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2023 RiverRun Int’l Film Festival-Special Jury Award
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    Amy Bench

    Filmmaker and cinematographer Amy Bench is drawn to the immediacy of film and photography for telling stories of community and resilience. Her film More Than I Want to Remember (2022) won four Oscar-qualifying awards (Tribeca, Hot Docs, Cleveland, deadCENTER) and is being distributed by MTV Documentary Films for release on Paramount+.

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    Monique Walton

    Monique Walton produces features and documentaries. She produced Annie Silverstein’s Bull, an official selection at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard, which was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. Her shorts, Dark Matters and The Becoming Box, were featured on the Criterion Channel’s Afrofuturism program. 

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    Annie Silverstein

    Annie Silverstein is a filmmaker and educator. Her short film, Skunk, won the Cinéfondation jury award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Silverstein’s feature debut, Bull, premiered at the Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2019, and received three Independent Spirit Award nominations in 2021. She is currently a professor at Texas State University.

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    The Film

    At the heart of Breaking Silence is the ever-evolving relationship between Walker, a deaf father, and his hearing daughter, Leslie, as they build new bonds through their experiences in the criminal justice system. Leslie has just completed her parole in Houston, TX and returned to Baton Rouge, LA; Walker serves as a chaplain in Texas’ Estelle Prison where he talks with deaf men about their ongoing struggles within the prison system. During Leslie’s imprisonment, Walker found it difficult to communicate with his daughter during his visits—he communicates through ASL and the guards required Walker to pick up the phone and speak through the glass—so he began volunteering at Angola State Prison, as well as teaching sign language at men’s and women’s prisons in Louisiana. He learned that for deaf people who are incarcerated, language is taken away. 

    Through personal interviews and father-daughter conversations, Breaking Silence explores their joint memories of Leslie’s childhood, Leslie’s experience of being a hearing-abled child with deaf parents, the regrets that fuel Walker’s activism, and the traumas Leslie experienced in adolescence triggering her cycle of incarceration. Throughout the film, Walker and Leslie share how imprisonment and re-entry have reshaped their relationship and created new pathways toward advocacy.