Today I saw the premiere of the movie “The Woman from the Bubble” (directed by Neta Levi) in the Cinemateque Tel Aviv. It is a documentary movie about few months from the life of Lee Dan, an Israeli Sign Language interpreter. Several Israelis know her face and her trademark-long hair from the bubble allotted to the Sign Language interpreter in those TV programs, which are made accessible to the deaf by Sign Language interpreting.
Near the beginning of the movie, we see the painstaking camera adjustments, which need to be made for the interpreter to be properly centered in her bubble. The movie ends with her wedding ceremony (see full disclosure at end).
In between, there are several sketches of situations of interpreting, teaching the Hearing about the Deaf, and even attempts to matchmake single Israeli deaf Arab women with Palestinian deaf men. The men turned to be male chauvinistic and to prefer hearing women, who can hear baby cries without special technology.
Three scenes stayed in my memory.
- When Lee Dan interpreted in a court trial involving a Deaf man, the Deaf defendant rudely cursed the judge. As a faithful interpreter, Lee Dan had to interpret his signs and pass along the same intonation and emotions. Since the defendant signed a lot of f*** words, the judge held the interpreter in contempt of the court!
- Another court situation involved a rape, in which both the rapist and the victim were Deaf. Lee Dan interpreted for both the rapist and his victim. Due to her sensitiveness, it was very difficult experience for her. Lee Dan had to render the victim’s humiliation and pain AND the rapist’s cold outbursts that the victim denies having wanted it at the time. After this experience, Lee Dan vowed never to interpret in rape trials anymore.
- An happier scene involved a pregnant woman, who was late to give birth, and was now hospitalized. The woman and her husband were very worried because she ceased to feel the fetus’ movements in her tummy. The woman was connected to a monitor, which beeped in rhythm with the fetus’ heartbeats. However she and her husband, being deaf, did not hear the beeps. Lee Dan asked a nurse to move the monitor closer to the woman’s bed and asked the man and the woman to touch the monitor and feel the beeps. The scene ended with a look at the relieved and happy faces of the couple.
Full disclosure: I attended Lee Dan’s wedding ceremony, and saw a cameraman there. However, my non-photogenic face did not make it to the movie.