Alison O’Daniel: The Tuba Thieves Premiere at Sundance
Alison O’Daniel’s Creative Capital Project The Tuba Thieves premieres at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
A spate of robberies in Southern California schools had an oddly specific target: tubas. In this work of creative nonfiction, deaf first-time feature director Alison O’Daniel presents the impact of these crimes from an unexpected angle. The film unfolds mimicking a game of telephone, where sound’s feeble transmissibility is proven as the story bends and weaves to human interpretation and miscommunication. The result is a stunning contribution to cinematic language. O’Daniel has developed a syntax of deafness that offers a complex, overlaid, surprising new texture, which offers a dimensional experience of deafness and reorients the audience auditorily in an unfamiliar and exhilarating way.
Blending documentary and fictionalized performances by Nyke, a deaf woman playing herself, and Geovanny, a drum major of a burglarized, now-tubaless band, the film documents their lives during the years of the robberies. Against a backdrop of Los Angeles never quite seen — or heard, rather — quite like this, the main character is sound and lack thereof. A finely-tuned sense of silence and sound — aural and conceptual — are collaged to create this utterly singular sonic and cinematic experience.