Directed by: Doug Roland. Starring: Steven Prescod, Robert Tarango. Runtime: 18 min.
Doug Roland’s Feeling Through is a beautiful story, so it’s not surprising to see it nominated for Best Live Action Short at this year’s Academy Awards. Tereek (Steven Prescod) is a homeless teen who spends his nights on the streets of New York, hanging out with friends and then texting others to see if he can crash on their couch.
While figuring his place to stay, he sees a man standing at the side of the road, a smile on his face. Tereek walks up to him and sees he’s holding a piece of paper that says, “I am deaf and blind, tap me if you can help me cross the street.” This is Artie (Robert Tarango), a DeafBlind man who is simply just trying to get home late at night.
Feeling Through is a great short because of how beautifully it depicts this human connection, but also as it immerses us and makes us consider what it would be like to live life in this way. There’s fear when we think Tereek might walk away to go to a warm bed, as we want him to stay with Artie. A simple moment here of Tereek leading Artie and accidentally letting him run into a sidewalk guard is sad and just shows how dependent he must be on other people, where a lot of people may not be willing to help him.
As Tereek helps Artie throughout the night, their connection grows in charming ways, just as they have a conversation and it shows that they still can converse, as Tereek communicates by writing letters with his finger on Artie’s palm. Tereek’s selflessness is nice, and for as well as it depicts Artie’s world, Tereek’s development and depiction of his life feels realistic, too.
The film is simple in how it immerses us in Artie’s world, at one point just showing Tereek put his hands over his ears and close his eyes, in a moment that shows how much you can miss. I like 2020 as a film year as it also had a film that immersed us in the experience of deafness in Sound of Metal as that film’s heavy metal drummer started to lose his hearing. Feeling Through is a neat film, too, as it’s the first film with a DeafBlind actor to star in a film.
The film’s inspired, too, by writer/director Doug Roland’s own chance encounter with a DeafBlind man named Artemio, so what takes place here feels authentic and realistic (especially as it’s made in partnership with Helen Keller Services).
It’s special learning about Artie and his experience, as we see how he communicates, and Doug Roland’s film just shows how beautiful life can be when you’re selfless and there with someone, as Tereek and Artie make a connection they’ll both remember. It’s shown with a bit of humour and great chemistry, and most importantly, great humanity.