The Speechless Team is interviewed by Mercedes Iñiguez Quintela for Gea Photo Words
Communication is essential for life. Beyond its intrinsic importance, its absence is what affects most the daily life of someone with aphasia. The most devastating change in a person's life is the loss of communication, opening a gap between this person's identity and the rest of the people. Speechless is a documentary in progress which tells the story of three characters: Tina, Ed and Lance, who survived from a stroke and now have aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage that can cause problems with the expression, understanding, reading and writing.
Going outside, understanding conversations, noises, speaking with others. We orient ourselves in the complex communication of the modern cities in an automatic way, but all these little everyday gestures, rarely noticeable in our daily life, are not that easy for the one million people who have Aphasia in the U.S., 1 out of 250. Nearly as many patients as Parkinson. However, the latter disease is well known in the Western world and aphasia is the great unknown.
This ignorance is what pushed a couple of young Spanish filmmakers living in New York, to explore this ignored and unknown world . Guillermo F. Flórez, director and co-producer of Speechless was very surprised about the fact that there are not many audiovisual material about this communicative disorder. "There is an urgent need to talk about aphasia due to lack of awareness and the short media coverage of this disease."
"We started with a very long process to find three people with very different backgrounds and whom had a stroke at different times of their lives; For example, Lance had the stroke a year ago, and Tinna suffered it 16 years ago. We begun then to see how the characters reacted to us. As a filmmaker, you want to tell their story but you don't know how they will react, so at the beginning there is a process of adaptation between them and us. Many people do not want to share their secrets and there are people who, after some time, they trust you and tell you their story. This is not a two-days work, it's a work of two years, "says Ariadna Seuba, co-producer of Speechless, which portrays the life of three people who suffer aphasia and their difficulties to face a world like ours, where communication is so important. The film poses the question of what it means to live without communication, and how these people face everyday's from their disorder.
"But I wanted to make a documentary -continues Florez- from a personal approach rather than a scientific one, because I think society needs to understand aphasia, especially from a human point of view. The documentary is not just a story about this disorder, it is a story about human relationships and the social consequences of the loss of communication."
According to Seuba, the fact of not wanting to make a scientific documentary is because society needs to understand more about the human part that goes beyond treatment. Stroke survivors spent a few days in the hospital recovering but then they go home and they have to face many challenges and continue with their lives; develop different relationships with family, friends and some of them may not return to work.
The possible consequences of the interruption of communication are very frustrating, not only for the person with aphasia, but also for his interlocutor or listener. Very often, people with aphasia have, to varying degrees, both expressive and receptive difficulties.
"They all have a companion with whom they usually come to therapies. Generally is a family member, and you realize how they develop a special way of interacting with each other, and that goes far beyond words", explains Seuba and continues, "in Speechless there are some interviews that at first, may seem a bit confusing, but we wanted to leave it because those are some of the difficulties they face everyday to communicate with the world".
Speechless is a documentary in progress, but its creators hope to premiere in June 2015, the National Aphasia Awarness Month in the US. "I wanted to use the lack of speech as an artistic element, filming moments where characters can't find the words when they most need them, and express the barrier between the persona who has aphasia and the rest of the world," says Guillermo F. Flórez.
Mercedes Iñiguez Quintela for Gea Photo Words
Read the original article at Gea Photo Words (Spanish version)