It's been finished for a while, so where is it?

Chasing “The Silence”

What’s already happened?

In May 2017, an announcement was made at Cannes that The Silence was being produced, with horror director John R. Leonetti (Annabelle) leading the creative team with Kiernan Shipka as the first cast member to sign on[1]. Here’s the synopsis:

The Silence tells the terrifying tale of Ally, a deaf teenager, and her family, whose world is turned upside down by a deadly and primeval force. In the fields near her New Jersey home, a colony of bats are attacked by a parasitic insect and soon morph into a new lethal species called Vesps.

As the blind, winged creatures quickly grow, spread, and attack the human population, Ally’s heightened senses become her strength. She can feel when the Vesps are close and realizes that even the slightest noise summons them in huge numbers. She and her family seek refuge in the woods, where they must live in total silence. Amidst the creature chaos, they learn that humans can be just as dangerous when they are fighting to survive.

 

THE SILENCE /Constantin Film/© 2019 Constantin Film Verleih

 

Shipka (Mad Men, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) was cast in the lead role of Ally, and was quickly joined by Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, The Lovely Bones)[2], with Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Homeland) and John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City) coming on board soon after[3].

This was all happening while Millicent Simmonds was also at Cannes marking her debut in the film, Wonderstruck, and becoming an instant media sensation[4]. Simmonds would eventually go on to book the lead role in another film, A Quiet Place, starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who also directed.

With all the good news in the media for #DeafTalent at that time, it was easy for the news of Shipka being cast in a deaf role in The Silence to slip under the radar, until the community took notice recently. A link to director Leonetti’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter was posted by the @deaftalent account on Twitter[5], with a request that the community share thoughts. The article was published on November 3, 2017, but had escaped notice until nearly a year later when the @deaftalent Twitter account had discovered and shared it. This query sparked a series of conversations expressing concern and outrage at certain comments made by Leonetti in the interview.

Some excerpts from the interview that sparked discussion are below (unedited)[6]:

Did you get any tips from other films about deafness?

Well, Children of a Lesser God, of course, with Bill Hurt and Marlee Matlin. And there’s an amazing film called The Tribe from Ukraine, where the whole film is just signing, with no subtitles, and you understand everything that is going on.

Kiernan Shipka plays Ally. What do you think will surprise people, who know her only from Mad Men, about her performance?

I really think people haven’t seen her like this before. She learned to sign for the film, and now she’s flawless, like she’s been signing her entire life. She seems to have an almost innate sense of what it’s like being a deaf person. [Her performance] isn’t o , not even by a little bit. She’s acting alongside Stanley Tucci, and believe me, she’s more than holding her own. It’s been spellbinding watching her.

A summary of the community’s response on Twitter can be found here, with notable #DeafTalent advocates such as Nyle DiMarco, Marlee Matlin, and Jules Dameron weighing in[7]. The Daily Moth also covered the story with an update[8].

After this flurry of activity, #DeafInMedia began some investigation into the film. Some discoveries below:

  • Some sites reported different release dates for the film:
    • Rotten Tomatoes lists a limited release on December 7, 2019.[9]
    • One site speculated the December 7 date was actually a 2018 release because it fell on a Friday in 2018 as opposed to a Saturday in 2019, a day of the week which makes more sense, as far as premieres go.[10]
    • IMDB lists a premiere date of May 16, 2019 in Germany[11].
  • The producing company, Global Road Entertainment, have listed the film on their upcoming film releases page.[12]
  • Global Road Entertainment recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[13] #DeafInMedia reached out to them about the fate of the film, but has not received a response.
  • #DeafInMedia reached out to representatives for Leonetti and Shipka, but was unable to obtain any comments.
  • #DeafInMedia reached out to Lewis Kay Casting, which cast the film.
  • tomandandy are reported to be scoring the film as of November 2018, indicating the film is still in postproduction. The team have worked with Leonetti on previous projects.[14]
  • The poster was released on March 12th, 2019 [15]

The strongest indications point to a spring release in Germany, likely on May 16. And (3/20/19 update) it looks like it won’t have a theatrical release in the US at all; rather, it will be released on Netflix on April 12th. [16] We will continue to watch for any news and will post updates as they come. The rest, unironically, is silence…

Any items of interest concerning Deaf representation can be shared with us via email: DeafInMedia@csd.org, or posted on social media using a @DeafInMedia mention or the #DeafInMedia hashtag.

—–CITATIONS—–

[1] Casting Begins for John Leonetti’s The Silence; Kiernan Shipka First to Sign On
https://www.dreadcentral.com/news/228611/casting-begins-john-leonettis-silence-kiernan-shipka-first-sign/
May 12, 2017
by Debi Moore

[2] Stanley Tucci Joins John Leonetti’s ‘The Silence,’ From ‘Resident Evil’ Producers
Horror thriller sold at Cannes by Mister Smith Entertainment
https://variety.com/2017/film/news/stanley-tucci-john-leonettis-the-silence-resident-evil-1202433479/
May 18, 2017
by John Hopewell

[3] Miranda Otto & John Corbett Cast In John R. Leonetti’s ‘The Silence’
https://deadline.com/2017/08/miranda-otto-john-corbett-john-r-leonettis-the-silence-movie-1202157847/
August 29, 2017
by Amanda N’Duka

[4] ‘Wonderstruck,’ with deaf newcomer Simmonds, lands at Cannes
https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/wonderstruck-starring-a-deaf-newcomer-lands-at-cannes/
May 18, 2017
by Jake Coyle

[5] Tweet by @deaftalent
https://twitter.com/deaftalent/status/1041733387529072640
September 17, 2018

[6] How Deafness Is Adding Extra Scares to John Leonetti’s Horror Movie ‘The Silence’
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/john-leonettis-horror-movie-silence-deafness-is-adding-extra-scares-afm-2017-1054521
November 3, 2017

[7] Director John Leonetti Criticized by Deaf Community for Upcoming Horror Film ‘The Silence’
https://themighty.com/2018/09/john-leonetti-the-silence-deaf-community-outrage-nyle-dimarco-marlee-matlin/
September 18, 2018

[8] The Daily Moth 9-18-2019
https://www.dailymoth.com/single-post/2018/09/18/The-Daily-Moth-9-18-2019
September 18, 2018

[9] https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_silence_2019

[10] GLOBAL ROAD DATES FAMILIAR-SOUNDING “SILENCE”
https://www.rue-morgue.com/global-road-dates-familiar-sounding-silence/
June 5, 2018
by Michael Gingold

[11] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7315484/

[12] https://globalroadentertainment.com/movies#coming-soon

[13] Global Road Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy for Film Division
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/global-road-files-bankruptcy-1140266
September 6, 2018
by Eriq Gardner, Pamela McClintock

[14] Tomandandy Scoring John Leonetti’s ‘The Silence’
https://filmmusicreporter.com/2018/11/21/tomandandy-scoring-john-leonettis-the-silence/
November 21, 2018

[15] First Poster for ‘The Silence’ Starring Keirnan Shipka and Stanley Tucci
https://www.flickeringmyth.com/2019/03/first-poster-for-the-silence-starring-kiernan-shipka-and-stanley-tucci/the-silence-poster
March 12, 2019

[16] Will be on Netflix April 12th, 2019.
https://www.tvguide.com/news/new-on-netflix-in-april-2019/
March 19, 2019

 

THE SILENCE / Constantin Film/© 2019 Constantin Film
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