Oscar-nominated Portland director talks 'Wonderstruck' with hear - KPTV - FOX 12

Oscar-nominated Portland director talks 'Wonderstruck' with hearing-impaired students

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Oscar-nominated director and Portland local, Todd Haynes, premiered his new movie in the Rose City Thursday night right after meeting with children who know exactly what the film is about.

“Wonderstruck” tells parallel stories of two deaf children in New York City – one in 1927 and the other in 1977.

Haynes told students at the Tucker Maxon School for hearing impaired children how honored he is to tell their stories.

“You can count the major films that have had deaf themes on a couple fingers as far as I know,” said Haynes.  “But particularly from the point of view of young people and kids. So I think it made it a particularly inviting topic for me.”

Tucker Maxon is an integrated private school for hearing and hearing impaired children. The curriculum focuses on teaching students to listen and communicate with each other.

Director Glen Gilbert says “Wonderstruck” will make a huge impact.

“To see kids that are like themselves up on the big screen, I think, is going to be a really big deal for them,” said Gilbert.

One of the kids on that big screen is 14-year-old Millie Simmonds - a deaf theater student from Utah who sent an audition video to Haynes. With the help of a sign language interpreter, she told the kids about making the jump from stage to screen.

“In theater, you just play the whole play. And you do it, you know, in a set time,” said Simmonds. “You take your clothes and you have to be ready and be prepared. But in the movies, things are a little slower.”

Haynes has lived in Portland for 17 years and says this is where he relaxes, writes and creates. And with “Wonderstruck” he feels he’s creating a whole new experience.

“It really makes a hearing audience think intensely about what it might be like to be deaf," said Haynes.

Portland’s Hollywood Theater hosted the northwest premiere of “Wonderstruck." All of the proceeds will go toward scholarships and tuition for students at the Tucker Maxon School. 

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