Last week we shared a film from the series of 12 that were created for the Wild Whispers project. Each video was made in response to a poem by Chaucer Cameron in the UK. The poem went through a number of ‘blind translations’ in a film-making chain across the world, each video uniquely expressing the poem’s transformation through languages.
When I first read the poem, it made me think of Native Americans and how much their ancestors had greatly suffered through history. As a Deaf Bihari/South Asian American, I wanted to highlight the themes of suffering and refuge of the poem by showcasing Native American culture(s) and show that despite centuries of cultural genocide, settler colonialism and violence, Native people and their cultures still thrive and resist to this day. I also wanted to draw a parallel between the sufferings of Native Americans with refugees from all over, including Syria, Myanmar, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. As an immigrant in the USA, I wanted to honour Native Americans by showcasing the beauty of the Navajo language and Pueblo cultures in New Mexico.
Lastly, Plains Indian (Native American) Sign Language was a major influence on American Sign Language, which I used to perform the poem with Navajo voice over.
Wild Whispers: New Mexico
Country and place of production: New Mexico, USA.
Languages: Navajo, American Sign Language and English.
Filmmaker and editor: Sabina England.
Translators: Meryl Van Der Bergh (Dutch to English translation), World Translation Center (Navajo), Sabina England (American Sign Language and improved English prose).
a film written, directed, shot, performed, and edited by Sabina England.
-Voice Over & Sound Design by Micropixie.
-Music by Om/Off (Paco Seren and Pablo Alvarez)
-V.O Recording by Elliott Peltzman.
Filmed in India (Old Delhi, India and Patna, Bihar, India)
Though England grew up in the UK, the sign language here is ASL. She notes in her bio (which is so interesting, I almost hate to excerpt it):
I use a combination of American Sign Language, mime, poetry, voice-over, multimedia, and/or music in my stage performances. I am always looking for more opportunities to expand my works, and I love meeting new people from different cultures. I believe that art and culture can bring people together in spite of differences and issues.
I have been profoundly deaf since I was two years old. I am fluent in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
After one year in the making, it’s here for public viewing. ENGLISH & SPANISH subtitles are available for your watching. My film shows the diversity of Indian society (in Patna) and I wanted to show a variety of Indian groups (Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists), including Deaf Indians (and myself as a Deaf Indian).
(Hat-tip: Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival group page on Facebook)