Saturday Jan. 16 marks the culmination of a piece of art that began in the fall of 2008. “LifeSign,” a major collaborative work between various Goshen College students and alumni, is a documentary featuring the deaf community of Jamaica.The idea formed as five Goshen College students wrote a 50-page proposal to enter a competition for a peace and justice documentary, with a goal ofwinning the $5,000 grant. After a long period of waiting, the team got the green light in Jan. 2009 and geared up for months of planning the project.
Various mishaps slowed the process down, including videographer Dusty Diller being initially refused boarding because his nickname “Dusty” appeared on the ticket and not his legal name; challenges getting film permits; and the reluctance of Jamaican officials to be on camera. One of the main topics the students wanted to address was the lack of driver’s licenses for the deaf in Jamaica. While lacking any official statements, the team interviewed much of the deaf community and got footage from all across the island.
Months of post production work and countless edits later, the team was finally satisfied with their product. As Taylor Stansberry said, “because of the complexity of the project: multiple languages, multiple formats, multiple production locations, [we] had to work straight through Christmas break.”
“LifeSign” premiers Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Umble Center and also serves as a senior theater recital for Taylor Stansberry and Doug Hallman. After Saturday, the story of “LifeSign” continues—DVDs, Film Festivals and other public screenings will follow. The student team chose to donate 100 percent of their share of profits from DVD sales to help the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf. Admission to the event is free and DVD request forms will be available. The entire event will be accessible in American Sign Language, English, and some Jamaican Sign Language. Refreshments will be served following the viewing of the documentary.