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US, 1999, 92 minutes, BW, DVD
Order No. W03816
COMPENSATION the first feature by award-winning filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis (CYCLES and A POWERFUL THANG), presents two unique African-American love stories between a deaf woman and a hearing man. Inspired by a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, this moving narrative shares their struggle to overcome racism, disability and discrimination. An important film on African-American deaf culture, Davis innovatively incorporates silent film techniques (such as title cards and vintage photos) to make the piece accessible to hearing and deaf viewers alike, and to share the vast possibilities of language and communication.


  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Toronto Int'l Film Festival
  • Toronto Black Film & Video Network, Outstanding Film
  • Independent Feature Project, Gordan Parks Award, Best Director
  • Independent Spirit Award, Nominee, Best Feature Under $500,000
  • Atlanta Film & Video Festival

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    “Davis’ lyrical narrative adopts as its aesthetic the sensibility of deaf people, empowering the film with a quiet and enormous strength. A vintage Chicago is vividly recreated through an impressive combination of archival photography and ornate title cards, and a complex audio design of rag-time piano and ambient sound. Compensation is a layered and groundbreaking film about human beings caught up in a powerful and redemptive love that still cannot eradicate the presence of death.”
    Shari Frilot
    Sundance Film Festival

    “Come with me to the good-hearted Compensation… Both stories are dreamy, atmospheric reveries, rich in humor and social observation… This is a small, quiet, enchanting film about characters who endure and prevail and trust themselves… It makes you feel good.”
    Roger Ebert
    Chicago Sun-Times

    “…beautiful and poignant…a unique and venturesome feature…an important achievement, illuminating and captivating, and it deserves the chance to reach the widest audience possible.”
    Kevin Thomas
    LA Times

    “…[a] complex work…utilize[s] the eloquence at the heart of filming: picture language..a classy achievement. Using few words, it speaks.”
    David Elliott
    San Diego Union-Tribune

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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us