Directed by: Charo Mato
Distributed by: TBA
Written by Patrick Hao
In the more than a hundred years of cinema, several shorthands have become commonplace to depict hearing loss. The young Argentinian filmmaker, Charo Mato, uses her film to explore several aspects of her progressive hearing loss from hipoacusia, a condition that began when she was six years old, often relying on the same shorthand that has been established through the millennia. But, the film is more than an exploration of Mato’s hearing loss. Instead, it is a meditation on her own social isolation as a result and reconciliation with her family through the struggles. Her narration overlays an abundance of home footage, written as almost a long-form letter to her recently deceased mother.
As a form, Mato uses a mixture of reenactments, stock footage, and home videos to try to draw the viewer into her perspective. But all of this, even the metaphorical aspects of the film, connecting images to feeling, feels like well-trodden territory. This filmic device to move the plot along seems almost disingenuous, more as a way to find a rhetorical device to account for the film’s existence. This would be fine, if this had not followed the trend of artsy personal documentaries, using the audience as psychiatrists.
The film uses a lot of shorthands to emulate hearing loss, from being submerged underwater to whalesong. The most poignant of which is when she does something that deviates from the norm such as using pasta al frutti de mare to simulate the ringing in the ears. But, these moments seem to come few and far between.
This reminds me of a feature-length version of one of those critically acclaimed short films. It appeals to emotionality without earning it through an overreliance of “artistry.” There is very little that feels raw or unsimulated about the emotions in the film. “8 Stories About My Hearing Loss” is impressively carefully crafted to its detriment – a sign of mission-oriented cinema, whether it is for empathy or as a selling point. Maybe for Maro, there is no other way to express something this deeply personal, but for someone who found solace in cinema, it is disappointing that she was not able to rise beyond its cliches.
“8 Stories About My Hearing Loss” Trailer