Land of the DeafThis documentary comes with pedigree having won three awards at International Film Festivals. Still I did wonder about the portrayal of deaf people in the documentary as the Director is hearing, basically was this a film from someone on the outside looking in on the world of deaf people.

Nicolas Philibert should be highly commended and the film deserves all its accolades. This film is not about deaf people it’s with deaf people, it focuses on the language of sign itself and portrays this as more than just a means of communication, it’s an expression of being.

It also explores the theme of sign language as a universal language despite countries having different signs.

The film shows us deaf children learning at school, a deaf teacher recounting his experiences when sign language was not allowed to be taught, teenagers about life within hearing families and a deaf couple getting married. There is also a man telling us that his whole family (and whole is not just immediate family) is deaf and a hearing child is born, his expression ‘poor little thing’ does make you think.

There are no actors these are all real people.

The Director gives us a diverse range of experiences to choose from and although as a deaf person myself I could identify so much this film is not aimed just at a deaf audience but all of us.

This film should be required viewing for all those who want to understand more about the deaf world. Personally, I would make it compulsory viewing. How many films really show ‘real’ emotion, this does on more than one occasion. The scene at the airport when the American deaf students are flying home after staying with their French counterparts is brilliant piece of cinema and one we can all relate to.


The film is moving, it uplifting, thoughtful and for me the interviews portrays perfectly the world of deaf people and how excluded we are at times but it’s not just about exclusion it encompasses life as a whole.

Wonderful so go and buy it now.

Director – Nicolas Philibert
Country 0f Origin – France
Date Released – 1992
Certificate – Exempt
Language – French Sign Language, French & English Subtitles


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