director, producer

Judy Lieff

is a dancer, filmmaker, and teacher. She earned her M.F.A. in experimental film/video and dance at the California Institute of the Arts. Lieff has produced, directed, and edited several award-winning short dance films. She is a six-time grant recipient for dance/media projects and has years of experience in both film production and post-production. She began her relationship with the Deaf community through the making of an experimental cine-poem, “Duties of My Heart.” The film became a catalyst for four consecutive grants to teach video production workshops she designed for deaf teens. In order to create a forum for her deaf students to dialogue with other hearing teens creating videos, she initiated and co-curated with the Museum of Radio and Television in Los Angeles, An Evening of Videos by Los Angeles Teens. Lieff is also the recipient of a National Dance/Media fellowship from the Pew Charitable Trusts and two New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) independent film grants. Deaf Jam is her first feature length doc.

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co producer

Steve Zeitlin

served as co producer of From Mambo to Hip Hop, a documentary about the South Bronx funded by ITVS and broadcast on public television across the U.S. as part of the Voces series of Latino Public Broadcasting. He received his Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania, and is the director and cofounder of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City's - and America's -living cultural heritage. He also codirects the People's Poetry Gathering, a national poetry festival in New York City. He also coproduced with NPR producer Dave Isay the storytelling series American Talkers for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday and Morning Edition, and serves as a advisor to the StoryCorps project. Prior to arriving in New York, Steve Zeitlin served for eight years as a folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and is coauthor of a number of award winning books on America's folk culture. He has also coproduced a number of award-winning film documentaries including How I Got Over; The Grand Generation; and Free Show Tonite on the traveling medicine shows of the l920s and 30s. His early documentaries were selected by for streaming online.


Bob Holman

Executive Director of Bowery Arts and Science, is a widely published poet and poetry activist whose mission is "to empower the public with language to make poetry as natural a language as ordering a pizza." He is the former impresario of poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the coeditor of Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, winner of the American Book Award. Winner of three Emmys and a Bessie for Performance Excellence, he co-produced a five-part series entitled The United States of Poetry which aired on PBS in 1996. He has served as a curator of the Peoples Poetry Gathering since its inception in 1999.

Director of Photography

Claudia Raschke-Robinson

award winning Cinematographer has over ten years of experience working as a DP on a variety of productions documentaries, features, television, and Broadway and Art Installations. Claudia is best known for her work in the feature film "The Last Good Time" directed by Bob Balaban, starring Armin Muehler-Stahl and Olivia D'Abo, the feature "No Way Home" directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, starring Tim Roth, Debora Unger and James Russo, and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” directed by Marilyn Agrelo, produced and written by Amy Sewell.

Director of Photography

Melissa Donovan, Director of Photography

has worked in the commercial, independent and documentary world, earning critical praise from the New Haven Film Festival and the HD Film Festival. Donovan recently completed work as the DP on the PBS documentary, “Finding Billy Elliot,” which premiered on WNET in December 2008 and “Between the Folds,” directed by Vanessa Gould for Greenfuse Films, which was honored with Audience Choice Awards from the NHFF and the RIIFF.


Keiko Deguchi

has edited award winning documentary films such as Jeremiah Zagar’s IN A DREAM, Linda Hattendorf’s THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI, John Valadez and Cristina Ibarra’s THE LAST CONQUISTADOR. Her most recent film, TO CATCH A DOLLAR: MUHAMMAD YUNUS BANKS ON AMERICA was shown at Sundance FIlm Festival 2010. Deguchi’s narrative film credits include Patrick Stettner's THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS; Susan Seidelman’s THE BOYNTON BEACH CLUB; Steven Shainberg’s FUR:AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS; Jonathan Parker's (UNTITLED), and Bette Gordon’s HANDSOME HARRY. She is the recipient of James Lyons Editing Award at Woodstock Film Festival in 2008.

ASL Poet Mentor

Terrylene Sacchetti

is from a four generation deaf family. She has received numerous honors for her acting, creative writing and advocacy work: 1997, Best Performance, Dramalogue for Sweet Nothing in My Ear, 1996, Christopher Reeve Scholarship, The Valdez Award (Drama), 1994, "Woman of the Year" in recognition of her achievements as an equal rights advocate by the city of Los Angeles. She is an actress and accomplished writer, and the co-founder and executive director of the Deaf Arts Council (DAC), a non-profit charitable and educational organization that works with the entertainment industry and deaf artists in Los Angeles. With DAC, Terrylene designed and implemented a filmmaking camp for deaf children as well as programs that brought deaf artists into public school systems to teach theater workshops with the schools deaf population.

Poet Mentors

Flying Words Project

is a poetry/performance group which features Deaf artist Peter Cook and his hearing "voice, Kenny Lerner. You view these performances like scenes in a movie. Peter becomes the moving picture before you. He is the bullet screaming, the buck leaping, the fallen soldier, and the leaf touching the placid pool of water. Kenny provides the words and sound effects that support the images. The result is a performance uniquely accessible to both hearing and deaf audiences.

Flying Words has performed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Harvard University, The Nuyorican Cafe, Theatre de Lucernaire in Paris, and many places in between. They have received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the arts, and the Puffin Foundation. Flying Words has also been active in promoting ASL poetry around the country through workshops and by organizing the first National ASL Literature Conference (1991). In 2001, they appeared at the People's Poetry Gathering in New York City.

Peter Cook has appeared in Live from off Center's "Words on Mouth" (PBS) and United States of Poetry (PBS) produced by Emmy winner, Bob Holman. He has directed a touring production of "World of Whys", a children's play produced by the Little Theater of the Deaf, whose parent company is the National Theater of the Deaf based in Chester, Conn. Kenny Lerner has been co-creator and the voice of "Flying Words Project" since 1984. In 1991, Kenny coordinated the first National ASL Literature Conference which was held in Rochester, New York.

Poet Mentors

Manny Hernandez

is a Brooklyn native and a professional ASL storyteller. Manny has performed his shows for more than a decade internationally in a variety of venues. The subjects for his stories are varied and include Sports, Opera and the Mafia. His vignettes include 3D slow motion body gestures, animated facial expression and sign. Manny creates characters that engage his audiences on many humorous, emotional and intellectual levels. Manny earned his Masters Degree from Columbia University in Teaching ASL as a Foreign Language and received his BA in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet University. Currently he lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and daughters, Mia and Emma. He teaches ASL at the Catholic University of America.


H-Dirksen L. Bauman. Ph.D.

is the Associate Professor for the Deaf Studies Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. He is the author of numerous articles and chapters on Audism and Sign Poetry, and Cinematic Poetics of American Sign Language. He is the co-editor with Jennifer Nelson and Heidi Rose of Signing the Body Poetic: Essays in American Sign Language Literaturewith accompanying DVD. University of California Press. Among his numerous grants and credits, Dirksen has been the advisor on projects such as the PBS documentary, History Through Deaf Eyes. Larry Hott Director, and, the Langston Hughes ASL Poetry Project.- Gallaudet University Fall 2002.

Teacher/Workshop Leader

Liz Wolter

is a high school English teacher at the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York, and served as a workshop leader and coordinator for the Deaf Jam workshops. In addition, she has many years of experience teaching and directing Deaf theatre and was instrumental in incorporating American Sign Language literature into the curriculum through a credited elective class. Liz has worked with Peter Cook since 1988 teaching intensive workshops with students from Lexington and Fanwood Schools, creating a couple of award-winning videos produced by Bob Holman and shown on PBS, coordinating a student performance of ASL literature at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and a presentation at the third National ASL Literature Conference in Rochester, NY, 1996.

American Film Showcase