Louder Than Words, written and directed by Julio Dowansingh, is an independent short film that follows a young musician named Ansel (Luke Farley), and his unexpected encounter with Niall (Marty Lauter), an endearing, deaf dancer. It premiered last November at the Cheroscope Barcelona Film Festival, and is an official selection of one of the longest running LGBTQ+ film festival in North America: Wicked Queer.
When forced to share a studio space, artists Ansel and Niall find themselves awkwardly beside each other, performing song and dance respectively. They have an underlying connection, and that is a closeted interest and admiration of each other. While Niall can read lips, an obvious language barrier still stands between him and Ansel. In order to communicate, Ansel and Niall must step out of their comfort zones, because even though they share similar passions and quickly inspire each other, the inevitable risk of miscommunication—both in language and emotion—remains, rendering their hidden affection almost impossible to express.
The film explores the sheer struggle that queer people often face in a culture that is yet to fully foster accepting spaces for courtship and love. At its core, the story portrays how difficult it can be to communicate romantic interest as a queer person, and in this case, an added impediment of being deaf.
“I think everyone has experienced the awkward throws of trying to make a good first impression,” says Dowansingh. “Being in the position of Niall or Ansel—where you’ve fallen for someone but can’t communicate with them the way you wish—is a struggle that I think a lot of people can relate to. I wanted to explore that and create a story that shows how we overcome the initial communication barrier.”
Production took place over a three-day weekend in Berlin, MA, a small town thirty minutes outside Boston. The film was shot on vintage 2x Anamorphic CineOvision lenses, which, according to Director of Photography Art Parnitudom, provided the warmth and resolving power needed to achieve an elevated, hyper-real visual.
“I wanted to create this feeling of microcosm where the whole narrative occurs,” said Parnitudom. “This was to visually illustrate a space where Niall could freely express and become whom he most resonates with—without having to hide any side of himself.”
Parnitudom captured this by rigging 8x T8 3200k Quasar LED tubes overhead for a large, soft source, which he blacked out from each wall. Also, an M18 was gelled mercurial vapor and shot through the rear window for more background separation.
Started at Emerson College as a B.F.A. thesis, the story was a product of Dowansingh’s aspiration to shed positive light on queer characters and characters with disabilities, both who are underrepresented in film today. It is currently on a festival run for 2018, and screens next at Independent Film Festival Boston on April 27th and 29th.
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