NEWS: Libraries, Language and Film

MOURNING: Now playing in Farsi, Persian Sign Language, American Sign Language and English at the Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library kicks off our fall schedule of Global Public with a focus on the [sign] language of its local Northwest community…

“The language of film.”  Sometimes we mean this as a reference to the words spoken by an image.  Other times we mean the dozens of languages (in as many films), featured in Global Lens.  Every now and then, we mean something a bit more esoteric.

Rare that it is, though, we have the opportunity to highlight a language used in a film that’s never before appeared in Global Lens:  sign language.

This fall, the Seattle Public Library is presenting Global Lens 2012 at its Central Branch from September-January.  The Library is part of our Global Public library network, and as part of their presentation, they’ll be hosting public screenings of all films, an educational film screening with Franklin High School, and…

A special presentation of the Iranian film, MOURNING, followed by discussion of the film in American Sign Language (ASL) on October 6th.  Of course, ASL isn’t so unusual, as many public events have this as a requisite feature of their presentation.  However, what does make this unique is that the film itself is in Persian Sign Language (PSL) and Farsi–which means that for most of the hearing public, they’ll have a unique opportunity to see and experience a film in four languages (Farsi, English, ASL and PSL).

Here’s what Cleo Brooks, head of Library Equal Access Program (LEAP) at SPL, has to say about the presentation:

Cleo Brooks, LEAP @ Seattle Public Library

“The screening of Mourning as part of the Global Lens series is a wonderful addition to this work because it captures the many experiences of deaf individuals through the examination of communications and family connections. It also presents an opportunity to bring the community together to comment on shared experiences through deafness, and introduce the non-deaf community to the intricacies of sign language, not only as a means of communication, but also an integral part of deaf culture.”

For those of you not familiar with MOURNING, it is the first feature film by Iranian director Morteza Farshbaf, and depicts the struggle of a deaf couple debating the uncertain fate of their nephew, during a road trip to Tehran.  Winner of “Best Film” at the Busan International Film Festival (Asia’s largest competitive festival), last year it became not only the tenth film added to our 2012 series, but also one of the more inspirational [business] anecdotes of the year.

The innovative approach by SPL to this and all our films adds to that inspirational note, and speaks to the spirit of creativity and community we hope to cultivate via Global Lens and the Global Public.  It also reflects our ongoing mission to give voice and access to diverse communities of the world—whether a filmmaker in Iran or communities like those in Seattle—and as Valerie Wonder, Outreach Services Program Manager notes, echoes the goal to “expand Seattle’s access to information, ideas and stories” via the Seattle Public Library.

Indeed, and enough said.  If you’d like to see this and other unique presentations of Global Lens 2012 in Seattle, check the SPL website—and if you’d like to find out how to screen MOURNING in your community, email us!

The Global Public is a philanthropic program established by the Global Film Initiative to support the cultural development and growth of communities through dynamic arts-education partnerships with public libraries throughout the United States.  If your library would like to join the Global Public or you’d like to support this program with a donation please visit our website at:

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