An Insightful Film About Deaf Culture by Natalia Kouneli
First of all, Silent Laughs, directed by Natalia Kouneli, is a 2018 Oregon Documentary Film Festival Official Selection. Furthermore, Natalia Kouneli received a nomination for Best International Director Award from our judges. Even more, I enjoyed how this film brings a fresh and open perspective about deaf culture. The director did such a great job, taking us into a story, that is uncommon and refreshing at the same time. Synopsis "A Deaf stand-up comedienne performing in British Sign Language fights for her dream to bring Deaf Culture to mainstream audiences in a playful way." Silent Laughs, screened on Saturday May 26, 2018 at 5th Avenue Cinemas.
Silent Laughs: Natalia Kouneli Director's Biography
Silent Laughs Director Natalia Kouneli is an experienced freelance video editor. Natalia is also a motion designer with a big passion for documentary filmmaking. Originally from Greece and currently based in Spain, she has lived and worked in Greece, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain. She has been editing factual, corporate and animation projects and working in various documentary film productions. Natalia has covered different roles, from producer to editor. She made her directorial debut in 2016 with Silent Laughs, a short documentary about a Deaf stand-up comedienne performing in sign language.
Natalia Kouneli Interview (Part One)
- Why submit to the Oregon Documentary Film Festival? "I love film festivals specializing in documentary films. I feel that they attract people with a real passion for documenting reality. Also, I've heard Portland is one of the coolest places to be in America, so there you go."
- Is there any special meaning to the title? I named the film "Silent Laughs." Which are the words the main character of the documentary. A deaf stand-up comedian, once used to describe the reaction of her audience."
- Why did you choose to tell this particular story? "I think Leah, the main character of my film, has broken a huge barrier of communication between deaf and hearing people. I thought this was worth showing, sharing and spreading."
Cameras And Gear
What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective.
"I used a Sony a7sII which I love because of its photographic quality. At same time I struggled wit it. Especially when I encountered a moment in which it would have been more ideal if it were point and shoot."
Natalia Kouneli Interview (Part Two)
- How did you fund this film? "I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the four documentary filmmakers to receive 8000 pounds. As a result, we had the opportunity to make a film as part of the "Bridging the Gap" talent program. This was organized by the Scottish Documentary Institute, so I didn't have pressure to recoup the production costs."
- What kind of audience reaction are you getting to this film? "I got a very positive audience reaction, especially from deaf audiences. Above all, they were delighted to see a deaf character portrayed in such a say on the big screen. Also, I am hearing audiences who were really curious and interested in learning more about deaf culture after watching this film."
- You have completed a documentary film, which is a huge achievement. Do you have any advice for other documentary filmmakers? "Get to know your subject and your character really well before you hit record for the first time. Do your research on the wider subject matter and spend lots of time with your character. Talk for hours without recording, then start with audio recording in a very relaxed setting. Record as much audio as you can, before, during and after filming. The most intimate stuff is captured off camera, and audio is a great compromise, which sometimes forces you to find very creative visual alternatives. Audio narration in documentary is gold for me, it's proven to be far more emotional and intimate in my experience."