Brwa Vahabpour’s Interview: “The inspirations behind the film Silence are my family and my adolescence.”

Brwa Vahabpour’s film Silence shares the story of a young deaf girl who finds difficulty trying to fit in at school and in the world. This phenomenal film shows the importance of making sure we have the resources, tools, and facilities to accommodate deaf people and how important it is for us to make them feel that they are a part of us because they are. We had the chance to speak to Brwa about his film and why it was important for him to share this project.

1. Writing a story such as this, you must have had to do research into the community involved. Was there anything that stood out to you while writing, that held the most ring of truth?

While researching and speaking with the deaf society, the main source of inspiration is from my family and my adolescence. The interesting fractions that occur in the meeting between the deaf and the hearing, are the base for how the story is written. These moments are the most truthful.

2. A particularly poignant scene is when Bahar is screaming her anguish into the silence, and no one can hear her as it echoes out into the world. What was the inspiration and direction taken to set up this scene?  

In this scene, Bahar has run away from the village at a point where there is nothing left for her to gain but punishment. She’s screaming because she needs help getting down from the tree in which she’s hiding. Figuratively, she’s expressing her pain. A deaf person can neither hear their own voice nor if someone is responding to their calling, therefore I wanted to create the feeling of despair. Like Bahar, Ebru, who portrays her, is hearing-impaired. I placed her in the tree and told her to call for someone until they came. I could hear her getting more desperate for each scream, and eventually came back to her, when I felt we had the take.

3. The way the film was shot, with the silence of quiet ringing loud at times, dispersed with the everyday white noise that we hear, was very cleverly done. What was the significance behind that?

Defining the soundscape of was a challenge. How can we tell the story as subjectively as possible without removing all sound? How would you tell the story of a blind person without the screen being totally black? The subjective sound is based on Bahar’s imagination and memory.

4. For an expressive child such as Bahar, losing her sense of hearing, and finding a new way to express herself, must have been too much. Especially coupled with the alienation from her regular school life. Do you believe that it’s important for schools and parents to create a safe world for children to foster their creativity, regardless of any afflictions that could be hurdles to the process? Have you had experience with a system that rejected your own effort to express yourself?

I think every child should be able to grow up in an environment where they can socialize with others. Whether it’s a community of hearing or deaf. What Bahar goes through in the, hopefully, short period of time that the audience follows her is a result of verbal and social isolation. There are many ways parents and schools can handle a situation like this, which I won’t go into, but I think everyone benefits from being in an environment where you can express yourself to someone.

5. Are there any future projects in the works that you would like to share with us?

I’m currently working as one of three directors for an upcoming TV series, while also developing the feature-length version of Silence.

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