Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), a division of Helen Keller Services (HKS), announced that the Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin has joined the team supporting Doug Roland’s award-winning film, Feeling Through, as an executive producer. Feeling Through is the first film to feature a deaf-blind actor in a leading role. Matlin’s longtime interpreter/producer, Jack Jason, and Andrew Carlberg, 2019 Academy Award winner for live Action Short Film (SKIN), have also signed on as executive producers.
As a lead consultant and producer on Feeling Through, HKNC Executive Director Sue Ruzenski (now Helen Keller Services Acting CEO) and numerous HKNC staff worked collaboratively with writer/director Doug Roland. In the process HKNC and HKS built a strong relationship with the filmmaker and during the pandemic the HKS-supported “Feeling Through Experience” has become a virtual public space for the blind, deaf-blind community and partners to have a voice and connect with the public at large raising awareness and building a social network.
HKNC provides programs and services that enable individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind or have combined hearing and vision loss to live, work and thrive in the communities of their choice. First time actor, Robert Tarango, was discovered working in the kitchen at Helen Keller National Center.
Feeling Through, a coming of age story, grew out of a real life encounter—a chance meeting the filmmaker had late one night with a man who is deaf-blind. In the film, a teen wandering the streets of New York City, desperate for a place to crash, encounters a deaf-blind man who needs help getting home. What begins as an awkward exchange between strangers quickly evolves. A close bond forms between them and the young man is taken on a journey that changes him profoundly.
This moving, topical film has been selected for numerous high profile international film festivals and has taken home 16 awards including the jury award at Ojai Film Festival, the Audience Awards at San Diego International Film Festival, and first runner up at the Oscar qualifying Bengaluru International Short Film Festival, among others. The film’s producers are currently working on a “for your consideration” campaign to get the attention of major industry awards.
Doug Roland has taken Feeling Through around the country as part of the “Feeling Through Experience,” a three-part screening event that has included as many as 50 interpreters and support staff at a single screening to provide one on one accessibility for moviegoers of any level of vision and/or hearing. “The Feeling Through Experience” has been viewed virtually by thousands of viewers during the pandemic. Recently, the Port Washington School District added “The Feeling Though Experience” to its high school curriculum. Other school districts are expected to follow suit.
Marlee Matlin is an actress, author and activist. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Children of a Lesser God” and to date is the only deaf performer to have won an Academy Award, as well as the youngest winner (21 years old at the time) in that category. Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 18 months old, Matlin is a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf.
Submitted by the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults