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Thu-Sun, Apr 18-21


  • Dir. Alison O'Daniel
  • USA
  • 2023
  • 93 min.
  • NR
  • DCP

In American Sign Language, English and Spanish with English Open Captions

  • Assistive Listening
  • Descriptive Audio
  • Hearing Loop

Part of Doc Spotlight

All screenings feature Open Captions

Between 2011 and 2013, tubas were stolen from high schools across Southern California. While reporters focused on the thieves, director Alison O’Daniel, who is hard of hearing, was curious about the impact on the students and school communities. She wondered how these thefts were altering the sound of the bands, which ultimately led her to question the role of sound itself and what it means to listen. In THE TUBA THIEVES, O’Daniel explores the question of sound, prioritizing a hard-of-hearing form of storytelling in which information collides and is allowed to be misunderstood. In prioritizing Deaf and hard of hearing communication, she generates new sensitivity to sound and meaning.

THE TUBA THIEVES follows the stories of Nyke Prince, a Deaf woman who is given a drum kit; Geovanny Maroquin, a high school saxophone player impacted by the tuba thefts; and Sam Quinones, a Los Angeles Times reporter seeking answers. Various Los Angeles musicians are also highlighted, performing in Deaf spaces and presenting concerts frequently (mis)interpreted as silent.

“Its connective tissue is an idea, an exploration, and it’s designed to be more absorbed than understood. But for the patient audience, it’s richly illuminating… The sounds, the vibrations, the racket and clamor and buzz of everyday life are as important in their presence as in their absence. O’Daniel’s scrutiny of them is somehow rigorous and abstract, serious and playful, and provocative in a way that makes us take in the world differently.” —Alissa Wilkinson, NYT’s Critic’s Pick, New York Times

“[O'Daniel] centers her film around various iterations of non-verbal communication and the generative experiment of attempting to describe sounds the way d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing people might conceive of them… She asks hearing audiences to sit in their discomfort and, in doing so, bear witness to the unique, valuable, and imaginative world of the d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.” —Susannah Gruder, IndieWire

“A cinematic experience that invites the viewers’ full sensorial engagement… Though it requires that audiences surrender to its unconventional tactics, the reward is the opportunity to rediscover the familiar with a fresh set of eyes and ears.” —Carlos Aguilar, Variety

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