(director/writer: Alison O’Daniel; cinematographers: Derek Howard/Judy Phu/Meena Singh; editors: Zack Kalil/Alison O’Daniel; music: Steve Roden/Ethan Frederick Greene/Christine Sun Kim; cast: Russell Harvard (Nature Boy), Nyeisha Prince (Nyke), Geovanny Marroquin (Geovanny), Warren Snipe (Arcey), Sam Quinones (Sam Quinones); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alison O’Daniel/Rachel Nederveld/Su Kim/Maya E. Rudolph; Obscured Pictures; 2023-shown with open captions and in American sign language)

“It might disappoint those looking for something more transparent about the thefts.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this oddball experimental documentary, not for all tastes, the dumb/deaf female filmmaker, a first-timer and a visual artist, Alison O’Daniel, tells us that from 2011 to 2013 a number of tubas were stolen from high schools in Los Angeles and the crime remains unsolved. She only wants to know what it means to listen to the instrument and is not interested in trying to solve the crime.

The filmmaker evokes a bunch of vignettes, some non-fictional and others fictional, to give us a sense of sympathy for the deaf community who will never know what that instrument sounds like. In one vignette she gives us a history lesson on the tuba. In another, she lets us see Prince play a surprise concert for 1,900 deaf students at Gallaudet University.

The film provides an empathy and an understanding for the deaf community and what it goes through on an every day basis. This is reason enough to watch this earnest and uplifting film. But it might disappoint those looking for something more transparent about the thefts.

Alison gets in her main idea that sound is a phenomenon that disconnects and misconstrues meaning rather than as a force that unifies.