Amplify this: Unheard stories at Glenbrook Cinema

When Jeanette Temesvary discovered there was a film festival in Melbourne giving a voice to those with hearing loss, she wondered whether it was something her own local cinema would support.

Glenbrook Cinema, she said, has always gone the extra mile by providing hearing loops, open caption screenings and has wheelchair access.

Mrs Temesvary, an accountant from Springwood, lost hearing in her right ear nearly 33 years ago, aged 27.

"It was sudden. Overnight. Three days after flying back to London from a camping trip in Iceland, I woke up with ringing in my right ear (tinnitus) and a big drop in my hearing. A doctor in London actually misdiagnosed me as having blocked eustachian tubes, which was not the case. So I was not treated appropriately."

A year afterwards she started having issues with her left ear, which meant she needed hearing aids in both ears.

"Luckily for me I could still hear my sons' first words and read them bedtime stories. I miss being able to enjoy the simple things like relaxed conversation in a restaurant, the punchline of a joke when everyone else is laughing, being able to enjoy live theatre and listening to new music because tones are distorted with hearing loss. Although I can still enjoy music from my past, as the brain 'makes sense' of it despite the distortions."

The Unheard Stories Film Festival is screening on Thursday May 26 from 6pm at Glenbrook Cinema and Mrs Temesvary hopes it will give the hearing world some insight through the four short documentaries on deaf and hard of hearing lived experience.

It was sudden. Overnight. Three days after flying back to London from a camping trip in Iceland, I woke up with ringing in my right ear (tinnitus) and a big drop in my hearing

"The films convey the sense of isolation well. Most social interactions are a struggle because of background noise," she said, adding that even though there were great advances in technology, it could be "exhausting" to use them.

By 2050 the World Health Organisation predicts one in four people will be living with a hearing condition.

The films capture the exclusion, isolation and frustration felt by those with hearing loss. They also offer suggestions on how to communicate better. The films include:

  • Deafying Gravity (14 minutes), written by Danni Wright and Samuel Martin and directed by Sam Martin tells the story of a deaf queer aerial performer Katia Schwartz. It premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in 2021.
  • Hear Me Out (9 minutes), written and directed by Marcus van Altena tells the story of Sue Walters and Jackson Tait and how they came to have cochlear implants. It features a short interview with Professor Bill Gibson and was a winner at the London Independent Film Awards 2021.
  • Amplify This! (16 minutes) is directed and produced by Soundfair (a non-profit company committed to hearing equality) and showcases the diversity of lived experience with nine individual stories.
  • We Hear You (40 minutes), written by Shari Eberts; directed by Carolina Cordero depicts the stigmas and challenges of living with hearing loss. Executive produced by three women with hearing loss, it was conceived, filmed and directed across two continents during the pandemic. It was a winner at the Cannes World Film Festival 2021.
One of the films being shown: Drawing attention to the needs of the hearing impaired community is the documentary Amplify This. It is showing this month with three other short films at Glenbrook.

One of the films being shown: Drawing attention to the needs of the hearing impaired community is the documentary Amplify This. It is showing this month with three other short films at Glenbrook.

Soundfair created the festival, which premiered in Melbourne for World Hearing Day and is currently touring Australia.

Soundfair spokeswoman Lisa Westhaven said: "It was recently shown at the Macquarie Hearing Hub. The films all had deaf or hard of hearing people involved in their conception or production. Audience feedback has been incredibly positive."

Mrs Temesvary said she was so grateful to Glenbrook Cinema for the "exceptional" way they assisted her and others. There is a T loop that sends a signal that goes directly into a hearing aid via an electromagnetic field, special Captiview individual captioning boxes, open caption sessions and well trained staff and well maintained equipment.

"I am extremely grateful for it. I only go to Glenbrook Cinema because there is no other cinema that offers such wonderful service!"

She would however like to see captioning become a mandatory part of any film's release in the country.

Tickets can be purchased via Glenbrook Cinema. There will be an introduction by deaf writer Fiona Murphy.