Tribe: Powerful Look Inside School for the Deaf

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy makes an impressive debut as writer and director of The Tribe, an original, intense, formally bold feature set within insular world of a Ukrainian high school for the deaf.

The Tribe unfolds through the non-verbal acting and sign language from a cast of deaf, non-professional actors.

The tale’s is Sergey (Grigoriy Fesenko), a new teenage student at a boarding school, with strong and shrewd survival instincts.  Thus, he realizes almost immediately that in order to survive unscathed he must prove himself worthy to be brought under the protective wing of the school gang’s leader.

A series of rituals ensues, first with some harmless initiation pranks.  Son, however, Sergey’s new-found clique introduces him to their common activities of robbery, bribery and prostitution.

At first he assimilates rather smoothly into his new role in the tribe, but later on, he finds himself compromised, especially after falling for his female classmate—and one of the gang’s escorts—which triggers some unanticipated events.

As director, Slaboshpytskiy knows that that if his depiction of the children’s emotions and impulses is honest and authentic, it will substitute for the more conventional reliance on words and dialogue.  Moreover, there is hardly any need for subtitles or voice over.

He succeeds, among other things, in showing the eloquence and power of silence.  End result is a never-before-seen filmic event that engages our sensory and emotional attention through the audacious use of formal techniques.

Winner of multiple awards at the 2014 Cannes Film Fest, including the prestigious Critics’ Week Grand Prix, The Tribe bows theatrically courtesy of an entrepreneurial distributor.