I saw it. I saw Stutterer. It’s only thirteen minutes long and it won the 2016 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. You can see it here.
No surprise: I wept watching it.
There’s the moment when a person approaches him on the street and he signs to his mouth and ears, exactly as I do, to opt out of speaking. We both “lie” in pointing to our ears because we can both hear just fine, but I do that too.
And he’s a typographer, a job I had for years helping my father. He has typography trays just like me and he draws words just as I did.
And right beside his work area in a prime location on his desk is a book: “At Swim Two Birds.” One of my two favourite books of all time is At Swim Two Boys.
And of course, he talks to himself in his own clear voice.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the film for me is that often in the background you hear, softly, the voice of telephone operators and phone messages. It makes me wonder what general audiences will make of that because for me it very effectively captures the communication anxiety we (stutterers) experience.
I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. Losing my voice forced me to get a cell phone. It allowed me to text. That was the reason I changed over from a landline. Then I got Colloquo2Go, and app that can speak for me when my speech is ridiculously bad. So the phone is a vital part of my life now.
On the other hand, it’s very hard to speak on the phone — much harder than speech with a live person. For me that’s the case; it may not be the same for all stutterers. So I found the soundtrack of auditory commercial telecommunication clichés to be powerful in the film.
The tension in the film involves his, Greenwood’s, impending first meeting with Ellie, a girl with whom he has been texting for six months.
I’ve already watched it twice, provoked by a narcissistic-like pleasure of seeing “yourself” in a movie. It’s a powerful talisman-like thing for me like the magazine of the Stuttering Foundation
Becoming a stutterer has been an emotional experience akin to realizing I was gay; the emergence of each of these aspects of my character has brought about a shape-shifting change in my life. Not for the worse, just big, and requiring some work with self-acceptance and adjustment.
Now I am off to see Dr. Pimstone: I will find out what he thinks about my heart. It’s going to be interesting.
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