Allen Film Wins Best Documentary

September 26, 2011
By Tricia Peterson

"Signing On: Stories of Deaf Breast Cancer Survivors, Their Families, and Community" (Director - Barbara Allen) won Best Documentary at the Twin Cities Film Fest, Sept. 20-25. The film’s title is a play on words for people whose language is American Sign Language. The documentary profiles a group of deaf breast cancer survivors (the Pink Deafies) who struggle with communication in the hearing-dominated health care system, where patient/provider communication can mean life or death.

The film provides a glimpse into the diversity within the Deaf community through the stories of five women and follows the inspiring story of Anita, a two-time cancer survivor and founder of the only support group for Deaf women in the country. During filming, Anita and her family unexpectedly learn the real truth of her prognosis some 25 years ago and also must face the realities of a previously unknown genetic mutation that will change their lives forever.

This summer, Professor Allen, Nancy Meyers and Anita Buel were also awarded the Advocacy through the Arts Award from The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans for the film. The presentation, made at the 2011 Awards Ceremony in the State Capitol Rotunda on March 2, stated that “this extraordinary film will change the way doctors treat patients and will empower people who are deaf to get the health care services they need in American Sign Language.”