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World Sign Languages and Deaf Film Festival

The World Sign Languages and Deaf Film Festival is coming to Penn State University Park starting Oct. 28, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the College of Education and the University Libraries. 

In advance of the festival, Joseph Valente, associate professor of education, professor-in-charge for Early Childhood Education and co-director of the Center for Disability Studies, reached out to schools throughout Pennsylvania with a deaf micro-short film challenge.

"We asked deaf or hard of hearing (HOH) students in kindergarten through 12th grade statewide, 'If you made a microfilm or short film of 6 minutes or less, what story or stories would you share?'" Valente said students could create the films individually or in groups, using any film or video recording device, although he expects that most films will be created using smartphones.

An awards committee will select the best films in the following categories: narrative, animated, documentary, experimental (open-ended), and honorary mention, and awarded films will be featured in the University Libraries as part a public multimedia display starting when the World Sign Languages and Deaf Films Festival begins on Oct. 28.

In addition, the festival will feature several events, to be held in Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library unless otherwise specified:

Monday, Oct. 28 (1:30 to 8 p.m.)

  • "Pop Up" Deaf Movie Theatre (all day)– Films in American and world sign languages (e.g. Japanese Sign Language, Italian Sign Language, French Sign Language, etc.) will be featured. Movie event staff, including greeters and ushers, will engage movie-goers using American Sign Language.
  • Kids ASL Movie (after school)– Featuring an ASL children’s movie and/or television shows.


Tuesday, Oct. 29 (noon to 8 p.m.)

  • ASL and World Storytelling– Featuring invited guest storytellers including headliner Ben Bahan, who are master storytellers in ASL and world sign languages. Stories will include folktales, legends, autobiographies and deaf/ASL jam sessions.
  • Kids ASL Event (after school)– Fun activities, games and snacks for children and their families hosted by ASL Interpreting students from Mount Aloysius College and ASL students from Penn State and Bloomsburg University.


Wednesday, Oct. 30 (6 to 8 p.m.)

  • "Kindergartens for the Deaf in Three Countries: Japan, France and the United States"(funded by The Spencer Foundation) – Featuring short ethnographic films of a typical day in Japanese, French and American kindergarten classrooms and a subsequent panel discussion about innovations in deaf bilingual education around the world with invited guests including Joseph Tobin, the Elizabeth Garrard Hall professor of education at the University of Georgia; Jean-Louis Brugeille, French National Ministry of Education; Russell Goddard, state coordinator of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind Services at the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Joseph Michael Valente, associate professor of education at Penn State.