- Country: United Kingdom
- Initial release: August 8, 2017
- Film Director: Chris Overton
- Running Time: 20 Minutes
- IMDB Grade: 7.7
Welcome to cMovie.Asia! In this article, we are excited to delve into the Oscar-winning British short film, The Silent Child. This powerful film tells the story of a four-year-old girl named Libby, who is born into a middle-class family in rural England and is deaf. The Silent Child sheds light on the challenges faced by deaf children and advocates for the recognition of sign language in schools. Join us as we explore the inspiring journey of Libby and the importance of communication and advocacy for the deaf community.
The Plot and Inspiration
Set in rural England, The Silent Child is inspired by real-life events. The film revolves around Libby, a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl. Born into a middle-class family, Libby lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker named Joanne enters her life. Joanne helps Libby discover the gift of communication through sign language, transforming her from a withdrawn child to one who feels connected to the world. The film is a poignant portrayal of one of the loneliest disabilities and the avoidable struggles that deaf children face.
The writer of The Silent Child, Rachel Shenton, has a personal connection to the story. Her father lost his hearing suddenly when she was 12 years old and lived the last two years of his life profoundly deaf. Shenton witnessed the profound effects of deafness on her family and experienced firsthand how easily people can leave deaf individuals out. This personal experience fueled her passion for sign language and raising awareness for the deaf community.
The Impact of Deafness on Education
The Silent Child highlights the challenges faced by deaf children in the education system. Shockingly, 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents with no prior experience of deafness. This often results in limited communication between parents and their deaf children, leaving them ill-prepared for school. With the closure of many deaf schools, deaf children are now expected to attend mainstream schools. However, over 78% of deaf children attend mainstream schools without specialized support in place. This lack of support not only affects their academic performance but also takes a toll on their mental health and well-being.
Sign Language: The Voice of the Deaf
One of the key messages of The Silent Child is the importance of sign language in the lives of deaf individuals. Sign language serves as the main tool for deaf people to communicate with their friends, family, and peers. It is their voice, enabling them to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs. The film showcases British Sign Language (BSL), a beautiful language that remains unrecognized in many educational institutions. While we learn various foreign languages in schools, the absence of sign language leaves deaf individuals at a disadvantage.
The Teacher-Pupil Friendship
The Silent Child portrays a heartwarming teacher-pupil friendship between Joanne and Libby. This relationship is reminiscent of the bond between Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, albeit with some differences. The film beautifully captures the transformative power of a supportive mentor figure in a deaf child’s life. Joanne becomes the shining light for Libby, not only teaching her sign language but also helping her find her voice. Their friendship blossoms as they navigate the challenges of communication together. The performances of Rachel Shenton as Joanne and Maisie Sly as Libby are truly remarkable, especially considering that Maisie is deaf in real life, adding authenticity to her portrayal.
Raising Awareness for the Deaf Community
Through The Silent Child, Rachel Shenton aims to raise awareness for the deaf community and advocate for the recognition of sign language in schools. The film sheds light on the lack of support and specialized education for deaf children, emphasizing the need for change. Deafness is an invisible disability, often overlooked due to its silent nature and lack of perceived life-threatening consequences. However, the film highlights the significant impact that deafness has on individuals and their families, shining a light on the importance of understanding and inclusivity.
The Silent Child: A Five-Star Short Film
Having watched The Silent Child multiple times, I can confidently say that it is a five-star short film. The story’s power lies in its ability to touch the audience, demonstrating the profound impact that one person can have on another’s life. The film’s message resonates strongly, emphasizing the importance of communication, support, and understanding for the deaf community. The music, setting, and acting in The Silent Child are all top-notch, creating a truly immersive experience for viewers. The film’s Academy Award win for Best Short Film in 2018 further solidifies its status as a must-watch.
Personal Connections and Advocacy
As someone on the autism spectrum, I can relate to the importance of advocacy for individuals with disabilities. The Silent Child has not only inspired me to become an advocate for the deaf community but has also deepened my appreciation for sign language. Sign language is not only vital for the deaf but also holds potential for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Like the deaf community, individuals with autism can achieve anything they set their minds to with the right support and understanding. As an aspiring artist in the field of animation, I understand the power of communication and the impact it can have on one’s life.
Learning Sign Language
In my personal journey, I have begun learning American Sign Language (ASL) to further my understanding and ability to communicate with others. Taking ASL classes has been a fun and rewarding experience, albeit with its challenges. Sign language, whether practiced by the deaf or individuals with other disabilities, offers a unique and engaging way to express oneself. It serves as a bridge of communication, fostering connections and understanding. By learning sign language, we can become more inclusive, breaking down barriers and ensuring that everyone has a voice.
The Silent Child is a powerful film that highlights the struggles and triumphs of the deaf community. Through its heartfelt storytelling and exceptional performances, it raises awareness for the importance of communication, support, and recognition of sign language in schools. The film serves as a reminder that disabilities should not define individuals or limit their potential. By advocating for inclusivity and understanding, we can create a more compassionate and accessible world for all. Let The Silent Child be a catalyst for change and a beacon of hope for the silent children around the world.