Filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky aims her camera at her own life to capture the remarkable transformation of her deaf parents, who decided to undergo a life-changing procedure to restore their hearing after spending 65 years in silence. Chronicling her parents' experiences over their first year of having sound in their lives, Brodsky tells a deeply personal tale that moved viewers to bestow it with the Documentary Audience Award at Sundance 2007.
The filmmakers parents were both born deaf; and the couple raised children who were not deaf. Paul Taylor and his wife Sally Taylor were in their 60s when they both decided to have cochlear implant surgery, which could permit them to hear for the first time. The documentary follows what turns out to be a complicated journey from the comfortable world of silence to a profoundly challenging world of sounds and language.
The documentary introduces the couples personal histories – childhood years learning to communicate in a special school, experiencing the stigma surrounding deafness in mainstream high schools, and having meaningful careers in the Deaf community at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Paul was a pioneer in development of TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf) which is also known as TTY.
The couples filmmaker daughter chronicled these surgeries and the aftermath. The film show some of the short-term consequences, including both expected and unexpected adjustments each would need to make. These two deaf people investigate the sounds and meaning of sounds; but learning what not to hear becomes an equally significant challenge. The camera records quite different reactions as the couple struggles to adjust after living deaf for a lifetime. The effects of the surgeries are not entirely positive.
The film establishes cochlear implant surgery in an intimate family setting rather than the larger context of the Deaf community.
This documentary was co-produced by Vermillion Films and HBO Documentary Films, which reduced the financial risks inherent in the project; and the film was distributed by HBO.
In 2007, Hear and Now won the prize for the Best Documentary at the Heartland Film Festival. At the Sundance Film Festival, the documentary won the Audience Award; and it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.
Irene Taylor Brodsky directed Hear and Now and The Final Inch. Irene Taylor Brodsky directed Hear and Now and Saving Pelican 895. Irene Taylor Brodsky directed Hear and Now and One Last Hug (and a few smooches) Three Days at Grief Camp. Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) (2007). Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (2007).
Select list of festival entries
Heartland Film Festival, Best Documentary, Audience Award, 2007.
Sundance Film Festival, Audience Award, 2007.
Middle East International Film Festival
Biogra Film Festival, Special Jury "Best Life" Award.