The Institute of Contemporary Arts:
A Memorable Experience

         It was not the interesting concept of having a deaf main character. Nor was it the fact of watching a BBC made for TV movie in hopes of comparisons to American TV movies. It was my fellow audience members that made this film that much more touching and memorable.

         What I love about London is the sheer amount of diversity, and with that diversity one finds many outlets for all different sorts of hobbies, interests, etc. The Institute of Contemporary Arts was one facility that I found catered to a wide range of those hobbies and interests and at the same time proved inspiration to me. Unfortunately, the contemporary is often left out of most classes; we study the past and what has worked before. At this place I saw things influenced by today, which meant oh, so much more to me.

         The even bigger plus to the ICA was the fact that every night or so it showed a movie. I ended up seeing two movies there: Edmund Coulthard’s 2006 Soundproof and Year of the Sex Olympics. Both are having dramatic influences on me.

         Let us start off with Walter Boos’s 1972 Year of the Sex Olympics. This was an older British movie that had A Brave New World feel to it. It was about TV and its monopoly over everyone’s lives—how emotions are forbidden and desire is showcased through Olympic sex events. I think the fact that the quality was poor and the acting worse resulted in the fact that I could not relate to it. The idea, however, of art being able to stimulate the unwanted emotions suppressed by the tyrannical governing body is interesting. However, past that I found no connection to it. For me I find that era has a lot to do with how you understand the movie. It is difficult for me to like an older movie if I can relate to it. Some cases I find I related to it extremely well (Michael Curtiz’s 1942 Casablanca other times not so much Elia Kazan’s 1951 Streetcar Named Desire). Nevertheless all are important to watch and in their own right worthwhile. By looking where cinema has come and where it is going, you learn what mistakes it makes and how it improves. In a way it parallels a young filmmaker. Year of the Sex Olympics would be like a student film and a film like Soundproof is where I would like to go.

         Now, Soundproof was not the best of movies. It was no Michael Scorsese’s 2006 The Departed or Nancy Meyers’s 2006 The Holiday, two movies that I absolutely love. But in its own right it was fascinating. It centered on the fact that a deaf guy was blamed for a murder. His character went through a string of emotions all without talking. He felt the frustration of miscommunication, as well as the pain of being looked disapprovingly at, like he was subhuman. I think the feeling of inescapable inferiority is something we can all relate too, if not sympathize with. He actually did speak at one point. With a last, desperate, yell of frustration and anger, he cried, “Fuck you.” in that deaf, dialect (if you will) that was amazingly received. The desperation was amazing. It was sad and vengeful and frustrating all rolled into one--amazing.

         On top of all this the thing that influenced me the most was the audience I watched the movie with. It happened to be “deaf week” or something, and the audience was full of deaf people. Now, one might say that an audience does not directly affect how you feel about a movie. But, I disagree. The mood your in, the people you sit with, how hot it is outside, all affect how you feel about the movie. Watching the movie with deaf people showed the transcendent quality of film. The catering to diversity was awe-inspiring. I left the theatre with a sense of unity, of “we’re in the same boat” feeling. That, I find, is what partially movie-making is about. At least can be, and too many times that not film either misses that or fails at it. It was finally good to see it done right.

A. J. Casey

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