THE STRENGTH WITHIN YOU – A DEAFTALENT
LOS ANGELES & NEW YORK – KMB Entertainment (previously Claquete Entertainment, of “When Cupid Dances…”) announced the forthcoming Double Coast Premiere Event of the film series “The Strength Within You” – A Deaf Talent project in which every film is made by a mix of diversity team on set including professional, apprentices, Deaf and hearing. The event will happen at the same time in both New York and Los Angeles and a live streaming of both events will be connecting the attendants to each other. The acclaimed Deaf Comedian CJ Jones will be hosting the event in Los Angeles and the famous CODA Comedian Keith Wann will be the host in New York!
The Strength Within You Double Coast Premiere will take place on March 25th in Los Angeles at the GS Sport Bar & Lounge and in New York at the Banter Bar. It will screen the The Strength Within You first 5 films followed by a presentation by creator/producer Katia Belas and an introduction of the cast and crew and their experiences on the set. The films are:
- Domestic Violence: Starring: MaleniChaitoo (Freeform’sPeabody Award-winning TV Series Switched at Birth, Don’t Shoot The Messenger) and Keith Wann (Multi Award-Winning Documentary Film See What I’m Saying) - Directed by Katia Belas. (A woman’s will to live free is what fuel her power to break free.)
- A Suicidal Matter: Starring: Ava Paloma - Directed by Albert Dabah(In Mental Health issues, seeking help is what makes one strong and not weak)
- Love Wins: Starring: Joshua Castille (Switched at Birth, Tony Nominee Spring Awakening on Broadway), Bob Hiltermann (See What I’m Saying), Amanda McDonough (Switched at Birth, NBC: Bad Judge), James McGowan (Switched at Birth) - Directed by Dickie Hearts (Winner 48hr Challenge: Passengers, Project Greenlight Winner webseries: Save the World)(Parents’ support and understanding on the development of a homosexual child is just as important as keeping that child alive and healthy)
- DUI :Starring: Sandra Mae Frank (Switched at Birth, Spring Awakening on Broadway - Directed by Katia Belas(You know your own body, and your alcohol consumption so only you can decide what is right or wrong for yourself)
- Be-You-tiful: Starring: Amelia Hensley (Spring Awakening on Broadway), Kristi Mahe, Jeffrey Israelson, Stephanie Rose - Directed by Trudy Sargent (International Award Winner The Boy Who Became King, Daddy's Girl, Are You Ready For Love?)(No one needs to tell you who you are, only you can define your life and accept yourself)
The Strength Within You is a short film series in which each film approaches a social issue. Each and every film mixes Deaf & Hearing, professional & student crew and/or cast. It has several goals including giving opportunities to aspiring film/video professionals to gain hands-on experience and build their demo reel. Both Deaf and Hearing new talents can benefit of this extremely different experience. It gives the experience to aspiring and professional talents and artists (producers, actors, directors,etc) to understand a little bit of the Deaf culture by being involved and needing to communicate with the Deaf talent on set. It inspires aspiring and professionals to learn and understand the Deaf culture, pride and community and grow better with it, respecting and educating themselves about Deafness and disability in a whole. As the films focus on giving a message which may have been talked about a lot, but still needs more exposure to educate and bring awareness to the population and all communities in the world, this film series also encourages the talents of a wide variety of diversities, backgrounds and histories in the film industry!
In 5 films so far we have included in our cast and crew not only Deaf and Hearing talents but also Latino, African-Amarican, Native American, Jewish, members of the LGBTQ community,all women crew, victims of bullying, relatives of a survivor of Domestic Violence and a relative of a suicide victim…and we are on the way to work with many more members of minority and diverse groups!! The special nuance of all films is that none has any dialogue in any language (although some may have texts in English) and they are designed to showcase the universal language that everyone, Deaf or hearing can understand, the language of the body, gestures, colors, eyes contact, facial expression and all the emotions that comes with it.
PRAISE & AWARDS FOR “THE STRENGTH WITHIN YOU”
The Strength Within You is still on Film Festivals run, as Domestic Violence and A Suicidal Matter which was finished earlier last year was officially selected to Fanboy Film Fest, IndieWise Film Fest, IndustryBoost Competition, Cineplay Film Festival and ChhatrapatiShivaji International Film Festivaland are now on their way to Indiewise Convention in Miami this next August. Love Wins, DUI and Be-YOU-tiful, are in different phases of completion and will start their festival run right after the Premiere Event.
OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
In addition to the many individuals The Strength Within You project has impacted on, creator Katia Belas is expanding it locally and globally with a Festival and exposition of films with the same characteristics and values employing Deaf talents and encourage the film industry to search and give access to Deaf individuals who wants to be part of it, as well as partnering with local schools and artistic organizations to create a program of outreach to High Schoolers to learn more about filmmaking and Deaf culture in hopes that this education and new experience will change the scope of the new generation toward Deaf community.
FILMMAKER STATEMENT – KATIA BELAS
After 13 years away from the film industry, I returned to find that technology had changed, there were new venues – YouTube and Vimeo are big channels now (man, 13 years ago, no one even knew about YouTube). I had to find a way to do something for myself. Being an immigrant and having an accent and "not so perfect" grammar wasn't helping either. People looked down at me and would see only an older, stupid, no talent, no vision, no good for anything person. With discriminatory behaviors all over, I had to swallow to get to internships so I could at least network and learn. Until I saw 1 film that changed my mind and lit up that little light bulb inside my head. It was a very short 1:54min silent film (almost a PSA) done by 2 amazing Deaf talents called CIG. I saw it and I thought, that is what I will do for me and for people who, like me, are also seen as the "stupid, no talent, no good for anything" in this world. Having been involved with Deaf people for 2 years at that point, I had already decided that my main goal when working in the industry was to work with Deaf Talents, so I just put together the hunger and the wiliness to eat (or, you might say, put 2 and 2 together) and came up with the idea to make this series. Short films that can be done with Deaf talents, proving to the world that we (Deaf, immigrants, older people) have talents, we are not stupid, and we can do anything regardless of anything, age, disability, language.
The first film was actually crazy, since I was "out of shape.” I asked a friend (Maleni Chaitoo) to help me by acting in it, but I ended up getting Keith Wann to volunteer as well, so my plans changed. How am I going to say no to having Keith in my first film? Of course, I would want him in. I just needed to come up with another script. Since CIG was about stopping smoking, it also gave me the idea of making all films about something that society should be always thinking about, making people feel good about it, making changed lives a good thing at the end. Hence, Domestic Violence was the first film, and all others would have the same type of energy.And so the series came to be.
The Strength Within You website: www.TheStrengthWithinYou.com
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