Winner 2008

Hear and Now

HBO Documentary Films in association with Vermilion Films, Inc.

In this lovingly produced documentary, director Irene Taylor Brodsky chronicles the outcomes of a major decision made by her parents, Paul and Sally Taylor. In their 60s, the Taylors, deaf since birth, get cochlear implants, a technology that might enable them to hear. Their story is a biography of a marriage and a family. It is an account of their education and varying successes. And it is an exploration of deafness, of the many ways in which individuals, couples and families come to terms with meaningful silence. The Taylors’ decision to modify a defining aspect of their identity surprises family and friends. The results of the operation provide the most dramatic feature of the film. Hearing is both exciting and frustrating. Sally is especially bothered by the device that she places, then removes from her ears, considering benefits and liabilities in the process. Paul deals with the new features more evenly, but experiences his own frustration. All this is recorded and presented in intimate, respectful detail. As we watch the Taylors deal with their new sense and their new emotions, we are asked to consider our own engagement with the world around us. What does sound add? What does it take away? What is silence? Why is it to be valued? For raising such profound questions through the example of specific experience, Hear and Now receives a Peabody Award.


Executive producer: Sheila Nevins. Senior producer: Eve Epstein. Supervising producer: Sara Bernstein. Producer, Director, Writer, Editor: Irene Taylor Brodsky. Supervising editor: Geof Bartz, A.C.E.