A Quiet Place is a win for the #DeafTalent movement

Millicent Simmonds on bridge in A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is a financially and critically successful horror film about a family living in a post-apocalyptic world where they are forced to live in silence while hiding from alien creatures that hunt by sound. You quickly discern that the family must remain in silence as the family tiptoes around a disheveled small-town store and communicates in sign language. As we watch the family navigate quietly through their environment, you then learn that the daughter, Regan, is Deaf.

The movie begins (spoiler alert!) a year earlier when Regan’s brother is killed by one of the monsters right in front of her and she grieves for her younger brother and is also frustrated that her cochlear implants are not working. The creatures who are terrorizing the planet are large and fast and hyper-sensitive to sound. When they detect noise they fly in violently and kill their prey. You learn that most people have not survived these attacks and this family has survived, largely in part, because their daughter is Deaf and they all know American Sign Language.

With almost no dialogue, the movie relies on visual storytelling. The silence of the movie makes you an active participant in the movie. Throughout the film, you are moved in and out of Regan’s perspective.

Regan is played by Millicent Simmonds who is Deaf in real life. Through her character, you experience the movie in her shoes and experience the minimal noises she can hear and at one point complete silence when she takes her cochlear implant out. Throughout the movie, you know that the cochlear implant is not working and you see Regan’s dad work on making several hearing devices which all fail to restore her hearing.

Many Deaf people consider this movie a victory for their community as it provides the hearing mainstream with more exposure to Deaf culture and provides increasing awareness of Deaf culture. Sign language, hearing technology, and use of sounds effects are used in the movie to give hearing viewers an idea of what it is like to live in a world with limited or no sound at all.

Not only does the movie depict Deaf culture, but it is one more step in the right direction in Deaf actors being represented in movies and another example of #DeafTalent, which is a movement that encourages Deaf actors to be cast for Deaf roles instead of hearing actors. This movie shows struggles that Deaf people face and raises awareness about the importance of sign language within the Deaf community and with their families.

Many interviews with Simmonds have talked about how proud she is to represent the Deaf community and show “her community” that there is a place in Hollywood for Deaf actors and she hopes that it will inspire future directors and screenwriters to include more Deaf talent and find new ways to incorporate deafness into storylines.

The realism of casting a Deaf actor and using ASL in the film is important to many in the Deaf community and a step in the right direction of bringing inclusiveness to the movie industry and highlighting the importance of casting Deaf actors in deaf roles. The #DeafTalent campaign is about encouraging movie and television producers to provide more opportunities for Deaf actors. This movement is not only about bringing awareness to hearing individuals, but also about creating diversity in film and a valid representation of Deaf culture.

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