Many d/Deaf people report bad experiences in cinemas such as poor customer service, or lack of subtitles on advertised screenings. Because of this, cinema trips can become stressful. d/Deaf audiences of colour may feel further reluctance to go to the cinema if they’ve experienced racial prejudice or don’t feel represented in their cinema. Running a club that supports an intersectional audience in this way creates a safe space for d/Deaf audiences of colour and can provide valuable cultural experiences and social opportunities.

Things to think about

  1. Brand the film club, if you can, to give it a strong sense of identity. The catchier the name the better, as it will help with name recognition and perhaps merchandising down the line.
  2. Seek endorsement from D/deaf organisations such as BDA (British Deaf Association) and bloggers e.g. Limping Chicken.
  3. Enhance your screenings with a forum/extra activity. Create a space for conversation, friendships to flourish, and discussion and debate.
  4. Offer food, even just a tea and biscuit break. If you can do something more exciting e.g. ethnic even better. Who doesn’t love free food?!
  5. Evaluate through surveys and/or your forum. Collate feedback and use it to improve events on the go. Think about being creative and using visual mechanisms like dot voting or smiley faces. Take feedback well and try not to be offended. Value their opinion and do your best to listen. Discrimination of D/deaf people is called ‘Audism’ and they are probably wary of hearing people, so be understanding if they need to vent.
  6. Develop leaders in the group and empower them with responsibility/autonomy, don’t mother or smother. Set up a small committee or steering group, if possible, which will give them even more status and hopefully pride in what they are doing and something that they can add to their CV. Encourage CODAs (Children of D/deaf Adults) and their family members to get involved as well.
  7. Consider people with hearing loss who do not sign (e.g. due to old age or through damage) and prefer oralism. Decide if you can also cater for them within the same group.
  8. Keep jobs simple and manageable though for the steering group. We’re looking to build confidence, not overwhelm people. Examples of roles can include: –
    – photographer/videographer (they can simply use their mobile phone and upload to – Facebook page/group)
    – someone in charge of registration/surveys
    – additional ushers to support staff
    – someone in charge of refreshments
    – talent booker
    – creator of signed YouTube promos
    – social media manager
  9. If you have the choice, find a venue with a great manager who cares. Consider also the demographic of your region, and if your location makes sense. Is it close to the community you’re trying to welcome?
  10. Use Whatsapp or a Facebook group to communicate (so you don’t have to worry about book an interpreter everytime you want to liaise with them) with steering group and it could be an easy way to set up film club membership as well. Having that could be a lot less work than maintaining and updating a website for the film club.
  11. Set frequency of meetings to discuss managing the film club. If turnout is low, then arrange to meet an hour or so before the event so they can go and enjoy themselves afterwards.
  12. Rotate the programme so that it reflects different issues e.g. nationality, race, gender, sexuality, disability etc. in order to represent the intersectionality of the group and make them feel acknowledged on an individual basis. Note that the group might sign in different languages and may not be familiar with BSL or English in general.
  13. Use Silent, Anime and World Cinema screenings as an opportunity to draw in the D/deaf and HoH community to your venue and integrate with your mainstream audience. Make sure the film is in the subtitled version, if relevant, as sometimes foreign films drop into English conversation.
  14. Learn the tastes of your steering group so that you are able to support their choices of film as there could be many that they have not heard of, let alone seen different genres. When showing them trailers, choose the CC (Closed Caption) option on YouTube, where possible.
  15. Consider Black History Month and/or Disability History Month as time for extra celebration or a special season, especially if you are not able to provide an all year round programme.