In the Land of the Deaf

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In the Land of the Deaf
In the land of the deaf.jpg
Japanese version of promotional poster
Directed by Nicolas Philibert
Produced by BBC
Fondation de France
La Sept-cinéma
Télévision Suisse Romande
Written by Nicolas Philibert
Cinematography Frédéric Labourasse
Edited by Guy Lecorne
Release date
Running time
99 minutes
Country France
Language French
French Sign Language

In the Land of the Deaf is the English title of a French documentary (Le Pays des sourds) created and produced by Nicolas Philibert in 1992.[1] The film is presented French Sign Language (FSL) and French, with English subtitles and closed captions.[2] Philibert uses sparse dialogue in creating an unsentimental, non-manipulative work which allows its subjects to communicate their feelings about the richness of life despite hearing problems.[3]

Prior to its initial theatrical release, this excursion into the unique world of Deaf communities in France was featured in international film festivals.

In its subsequent broadcast debut in the United States, the film was honored with a Peabody Award for excellence.[4]


This film focuses on the interrelationships between Deaf culture and language in France. Its overview encompasses a broad range of perspectives, contrasting the stories of a family who has been deaf and thriving for five generations with the story of a woman whose deafness was misunderstood, causing her to be confined for a time in an asylum for the insane.[2] The documentary features hearing-impaired people of all ages and from all walks of life. With their profound deafness in common, the children and adults featured in this film communicate their dreams and thoughts through sign language. In one segment, Philibert focuses his camera on group of schoolchildren who are learning how to communicate in a world where they must read lips and speak words.[5] The personal lives of some of the pupils and various adults are explored, including an actor, a sign-language teacher, and an engaged couple.[6]


This documentary was co-produced by multinational partners, which reduced the financial risks inherent in the project; and co-production also ensured enhanced distribution opportunities.[7]

Film festivals and honors[edit]

This small film has attracted an appreciative international audience. The quotidian life of the deaf as presented by Philibert is distinguished by an unsentimental compassion and an affirmation of the serendipitous.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o France Diplomatie: In the Land of the Deaf.
  2. ^ a b Library Media Project: In the Land of the Deaf; note that a brief segment in Japan includes Japanese Sign Language (JSL)
  3. ^ U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's Office for Film and Broadcasting: Review: "In the Land of the Deaf."
  4. ^ a b George Peabody Award: 1997 winners Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine., p. 64.
  5. ^ Nickel, Mark. "Brown to offer French Film Festival at Cable Car Cinema Feb. 10-20," Brown University News Service. February 7, 2000.
  6. ^ Harvard Film Archive Cinematheque: In the Land of the Deaf.
  7. ^ Cine-Regio: Co-production
  8. ^ a b "In the Land of the Deaf (1993)," New York Times.
  9. ^ a b Rhône-Alpes Cinéma: Le pays des sourds.
  10. ^ Kardish, Laurence. "Nicolas Philibert: The Extraordinary Ordinary," Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). June 5–7, 2003.
  11. ^ Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival: YIDFF ’93 Screening List
  12. ^ Ciné-resources: Le pays des sourds; Philibert, Nicolas. Retour en Normandie, Bande Annonce. October 2007.
  13. ^ Festival dei Popoli: Le pays des sourds.
  14. ^ Mumbai International Film Festival (MFII): Best non-fiction film over 40 mins.


External links[edit]