Netflix has released Audible, a 38-minute long documentary film directed by Matthew Ogens. It is a coming-of-age cinematic and immersive documentary on a Maryland School for the Deaf. Ogens found about this school while filming a commercial campaign about high school football teams across the United States.
Ogens always believed that there was a story to share about Maryland School for the Deaf, and when the time was right, he set out to create this emotional documentary. Audible follows the tale of the football team of that school. It shares how these children have to face many obstacles along with the building pressure of being in their senior year.
The documentary focuses on the life of Amaree McKenstry, the key player of the football team, and his friends. Amaree was not born deaf. When he turned two, he contracted a disease that led to him losing his hearing. His father left him when he was a kid but got back after realizing that he was immature.
The football team of Maryland School of Deaf is exceptional and has won 47 games in a row. In one of their games against Texas, they lose, but that does not stop them from persevering. Audible gives us an intimate view of the lives of children who are deaf. With an emotional tone, it is able to absorb us fully into our screens through the pensive music and the beats of a drum.
Sports as a metaphor for life has been used time and again in many sports documentaries. Even in Audible, you can see a parallel of the obstacles these students will have to face in the hearing world to the ones they face on the field. Nevertheless, it does not stop Amaree and his friends and they conquer every hurdle on their way.
Audible : Intimate and Immersive
Before the filming of Audible started, Ogen decided to focus on Amaree as his story stood out but at the same time, he can be a reflection of his friends. There have been many tragic moments in Amaree’s life, from losing his hearing to his father leaving. But one particular moment affected not just him but his friends as well. One of their friends, Teddy, who was also deaf, died by suicide. He was transferred to a hearing school and got a hearing aid. But the students in that school bullied him to the point that he decided to take his life away.
Audible shows Teddy’s friends, his first love, and his adoptive parents who tell us that it was difficult to console Teddy without the use of sound. This gives us a self-refectory moment to acknowledge how important it is to understand a person living with a disability. Ogen’s reason behind showing the lives of people who are deaf through their eyes is because he wanted to create an immersive film rather than taking interviews. It gave us a view of their world through their eyes. Through this, Audible is able to give us a more genuine point of view.
Another thing that Audible brought out was that people with deafness are not silent. Being deaf has a variety of spectrums. Even in the documentary, we could see the noise that the high schoolers made. Amaree tells us that he uses hearing aids but only to listen to music as music helps him keep calm. He cannot fully hear the songs but can listen to the sounds and the beats.
Audible does not give a triumph over adversity feeling but rather a deep look into the world of those who are different from us. The football team of Maryland School for the Deaf has become strong because of their determination and hard work. But also because they are amazing football players. In an interview, Ogens shared that while filming Audible, he was able to learn not to complain about little things from Amaree and his friends. Audible is an emotional documentary that makes us view the world of people who are deaf from their eyes.
You can watch Audible on Netflix.