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Described by its maker as a “meditation on access and loss”, this trailblazing film reframes cinema from a d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing perspective.

The true crime mystery worthy of Hercule Poirot or Jessica Fletcher: who was stealing tubas across Californian high schools from 2011 to 2013? The answer is not to be found in The Tuba Thieves, which is interested less in delinquents with a hankering for bass brass than in the absence of sound left by these thefts. From this jumping-off point, director Alison O’Daniel creates a film about a type of listening that is untethered from the ear: the stories of Deaf woman Nyke Price and drummer Geovanny Marroquin, the ambient noises of Los Angeles, John Cage’s 1952 composition 4′33″, a 1979 punk show at San Francisco’s famed Deaf Club.

Informed by her own experience as a hard-of-hearing filmmaker, O’Daniel dextrously weaves together a variety of mediums – documentary, essay film, character study, video art – to create a singular, enveloping sensory experience that probes the processes of interpretation and (mis)communication. Through sound, silence and inventive captioning that captures a d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing person’s stance in the world, The Tuba Thieves immerses its audiences in a technically bravura journey that upends cinema’s relationship with the aural.

“A groundbreaking work of art … [that] creates its own narrative, at once striking and new, a visual and aural experience that can only be lived firsthand.” – Chicago Reader


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MIFF is committed to providing accessible screenings and is proud to offer a Deaf-led screening of The Tuba Thieves on 13 August in ACMI 1. The session will feature an introduction and post-film discussion in Auslan from a panel of Deaf filmmakers and artists, and the film will screen with Open Captions.

The introduction and post-film discussion will be conducted entirely in Auslan, with spoken-English interpreters provided to allow access for all patrons. This is an opportunity to gain insights into how Deaf and hard-of-hearing people experience film and, in particular, The Tuba Thieves. Awareness of Deaf culture and language is an advantage, as certain concepts and turns of phrase may not be explained; however, all patrons are welcome to attend and experience this unique event.

Deaf community panel members will be announced soon. For any questions about access services for this session, please contact