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“Intriguing story, very fantastic with a vibrant energy” - Giorgia Cantarini, ASVOF

“Lot of historical deaf references”  - Michela Trigari, Corriere della Sera

“Rapid and psychedelic language of video games or japanese cartoons” - Lucia Bellaspiga, Avvenire

"It’s full on! Fast edit, noisy, action packed; there’s a lot going on!" - Simon Minty, BBC Radio 


Sign Gene t is definitely one of a kind and aligns with the deaf core’s values, is very educative

and inspiring, the first one in the world that makes thousand of references to deaf history, culture, language and linguistics almost like a Da Vinci Code which are maybe “invisible” to those who aren’t familiar to it. It also experiments the technical part, details are explained below. There is no film ahead of this one

Deaf History

Content incredibly rich with several references to deaf culture and history. Makes reference to Laurent Clerc, Jean Massieu, Antonio Magarotto, George Veditz, Deaf President Now at Gallaudet University, Alexander Graham Bell, Milan Congress in 1880, Kojiro Sasaki, James Denison, to name a few. It is in other words a Deaf "Da Vinci Code”. Every figure is not clearly explained or introduced individually. Accademic knowledge or basic reserach about these themes  is recommended to understand the film. 

Deaf History 1/2

Image 1: A victim leaves hand signs, one is for “A” and the another one is for “L”. Only later the agents find out that these are the initials in sign language for Abraham Lincoln: we see it present on Abraham Lincoln's Memorial Building. Sculpture itself was made by Daniel Chester. 


Brief background about Daniel Chester (1850-1931): the sculptor knew sign language since his son is deaf. He is the same sculptor who made the statue of Thomas Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student in the US (both of them using sign language). The statue is nowadays placed on Gallaudet campus.  

Deaf History 2/2

Image 2: Image of Laurent Clerc. He is the grand-grand father of the leading character Tom Clerc. 

Deaf Culture

Pride to show the beauty of our culture and way we perceive visually. Disconnecting the world of sound and immersing into the world of visual language, does not mean falling into negative adjectives or adverbs  (victimization, sadness, "lost of equilibrium", loneliness, need to hear sound and music). True fact is that thanks to the total silence, your perception will just affine and you will be recognising various visual elements and connect with new and positive emotions. This is not what we see in any movie about deafness produced by hearing directors.

Sign Language Literature

Like the spoken language, the visual language got its own literature. In “Sign Gene” Insolera presents the very basic “Classifier handshapes”/"Visual Vernacular" mixing it with some effects (Dragon eye’s fight scene). 

Sign Language Power 1/3

In “Sign Gene” Insolera presents the very basic “Classifier handshapes”and mixes it with some effects.

Sign Language Power 2/3

Sign Language Power 3/3

Sign Language Linguistics 1/2

Sign language linguistics is an accademici discipline not available everywhere except for a few universities. It is in other words, a visual language’s linguistics, a discipline that Insolera believes it should be taught in every school, especially during early age like when we learn any “sound-ly” spoken language. It is extremely fascinating, articulating and rich in its content. Sign language is a noble gift from God to the humanity.

Image 1: William Stokoe, father of ASL Linguistics.  A well known figure in the deaf community

Sign Language Linguistics 2/2

Image 2. Logo of the Quinpar Intelligence Agency. The star represents the "Five Parameters" which are the phonological elements that combine to form signs. 

Fake deaf actors are not tolerated. In Sign Gene, all talents are deaf in real life. Real representation. 

For a better understanding about #DeafTalent, please click here.

#DeafTalent > Native sign language users 1/3

Speediness and smoothness present in the communication among native visual speakers (sign language communicators), correctness of accent, slangs, word choice, tone, facial expression,  hearing people knowing sign language (CODA) not present in films directed by hearing directors.

With "native sign language speakers" we refer those who use sign language since they were born. Not every deaf person was born using sign language. 

#DeafTalent > Native sign language users 2/3

Several deaf talents in Sign Gene, not only were born using sign language. They actually come from deaf families. To name a few:

Emilio Insolera

Carola Insolera

Hiroshi Vava

Ben Bahan

Susan Mather

Nobuyuki Motte

Danny Gong

Humberto Insolera

Erika Wakayama

Warren Trofimenhoff

David Rivera

Culturally speaking, certainly in the deaf community there are families that go back many, many generations, and that’s true. There are certain families that you could mention their surname and everybody in the deaf community knows about them. 

#DeafTalent > Native sign language users 3/3

Several talents in Sign Gene are also well know activists in the deaf community. To name a few:

Ben Bahan, Chair of Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University

Susan Mather, professor of Sign Language Linguistics at Gallaudet University

Humberto Insolera, politician, former vice president of the European Union of the Deaf

Danny Gong, founder and professor of ASL at Deaf Japan

Summer Crider, Deaf Studies professor

Artistic expressions sign language related 1/3

Sign Gene logo (Shape of hands representing the double helix. Logo's design related to sign language)

Artistic expressions sign language related 2/3

Ex 2: Images (First Row) sign name (DNS aka Descriptive Name Sign, meaning based often on subject's appearance - in this case, Fuwa's beard). Applied to logo's design. 

Artistic expressions sign language related 3/3

Ex 3. Helicopter scene. Eleven are the people standing next to the helicopter. Choice of the number (11) happens for a reason:  just with "1" on left hand and another "1" on right hand and moving it, that would be equal for the word “sign language” (Image B)

Experimental technique with very quick editing and several vintage effects.

Video-editing is an experimental one, iperbole of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. It contains lot of vintage clips and a very fast & intriguing editing during the first 30 min and then slowed down afterwards.  It reflects the patterns of cross language interaction and the brain's executive control function.


Speaking of Insolera's personal perception, it is not being 100% comprensible only when imersed in an environment of “sound” speakers. His cognitive process from attentional control, selective attention to fluid intelligence (such as reasoning and problem solving) has to continually be very active and "fast", jump from a conclusion to another (fast forwards or fast cutting), assume some of them in order to follow the flow.


“Keeping your eyes glued to your surrounding and your mind active" is the only way to keep up with the life. The same would apply viceversa: any "sound" speaker immersed in an environment of “visual” speakers if not familiar with that language would activate the same brain's control function. 

Sound and music

Deaf films produced and directed by deaf people usually are with no sound, which are one of the elements of  the Deaf cinema movement. Insolera was one of the first members of this movement during his academic years at Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf, but regardless of this, he decided to add sound and music to welcome a broader audience.  

*Warning* Irritating sound in some scenes

Only the FAST FORWARD scenes have a very strong sound, pretty irritating: these represent the artificial and often incomprehensible and irritating sound of the hearing aids that some deaf people experience while using it.

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