Inaugural SignLight International Film Festival is a Catalyst for Change in Hollywood; Showcasing the Global Community of Deaf Filmmakers for the First Time Ever, April 16-20

LOS ANGELES, March 14, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Hollywood A-listers are turning out to support the inaugural SignLight International Film Festival (SIFF), where, for the first time ever, seasoned Deaf filmmakers and up-and-coming Deaf creatives from around the world will showcase their work in the heart of the entertainment industry, at a time when studios are seeking more diverse talent and authentic storytelling. 

Launched by award-winning actor-director-producer CJ Jones, SIFF offers a panoply of best practices and models of success to the industry and Deaf community alike, easing the way for studios and filmmakers to fulfill their visions of inclusion and access, a business imperative in today’s industry. Jones helms the five-day festival under the banner of SignLight Inc., the non-profit, entertainment career-training subsidiary of his production company SignWorld Studios.

Aligning with Jones to galvanize Hollywood through the star-studded festival are such luminaries as Troy Kotsur, Deanne Bray, Marlee Matlin, Millicent Simmonds, Rosie O’Donnell, Andreas Deja, Shoshanna Stern, Nyle DiMarco, Shaylee Mansfield, Keivonn Woodard, Craig Mazin and more. The event will also feature a performance by American Sign Language (ASL) hip hop star Matt Maxey aka Deafinitely Dope.

The groundbreaking event, which will be held at the Pacific Design Center, April 16-20, will launch with a VIP reception and screening and culminate with a star-studded, red carpet and gala awards ceremony. In addition to open-caption screenings, SIFF’s programming tracks—addressing best approaches of the industry behind and in front of the camera and sharing models of success—includes presentations; pitch sessions, panels; workshops; roundtables; exhibition booths; VIP receptions; industry networking; live performances by Deaf dancers, song/Sign performers; and family activities.

SIFF has been made possible by the generous support from sponsors Sony Pictures Entertainment; The Ford Foundation; Sorenson Communications, Easterseals Southern California; NBCU LAUNCH (NBCUniversal); HBO; Gallaudet University; and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

Said Jones, “Too often, hearing people misappropriate the stories and roles of people who are Deaf, only to seek out their assistance to help them create a facsimile of their lives. Authentic representation requires authentic participation behind as well as in front of the camera. Our festival offers the industry a ‘how-to manual’ that illustrates models of successful Deaf/hearing creative collaborations, best practices, innovative Deaf/hearing communications solutions and a contact roster of the best Deaf talent in the world.”

SIFF, which has drawn attendees from around the world, received 195 submissions from 43 countries from which 62 Deaf filmmaker/actor nominations and 32 films were selected in 13 competitive categories.

FESTIVAL PARTNERSHIPS: BSL Zone; Cal State Long Beach; Cal State Northridge; College of the Canyons; CSD Riverside; Deaf Kids Code; Easterseals Disability Film Challenge; El Camino College; Film Festival Alliance; Film Independent; Front Row Films; Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness; International Documentary Association; The Jim Henson Company; Lights! Camera! Access!; Nickelodeon; Pierce College; Pro Bono ASL; ReelAbilities Film Festival; Women in Animation; The Writers Guild Foundation.

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Media Contact:
Vicki Greenleaf

SOURCE SignLight International Film Festival