The first feature film about Jesus in sign language

The first feature film about Jesus in sign language

The recent release of Jesus: a Deaf Missions film marks the first time the film has been made available in American Sign Language (ASL). 

It was produced by a Deaf cast and crew for the Deaf community with every actor in the film being a native signer. Actor Gideon Firl portrays Jesus.

Created in 2024 by Deaf Missions which was founded in 1970, Deaf Missions is an international Christian ministry dedicated to clearly communicating the Gospel of Jesus with Deaf people in their “heart language” or the primary language in which a person thinks and communicates.

Deaf Mission serves people in more than 100 countries and 60 denominations, while keeping its focus narrow: creating epic video content in sign language, encouraging the development of Gospel communities, and equipping Deaf leaders by providing access to resources and training in their heart language.

“This is the first feature film about Jesus in sign language,” director Joseph D. Josselyn has said of the groundbreaking project. “What makes it special for a Deaf audience, is there is no barrier to communication. A Deaf audience can enjoy the film in their full heart language, expressed through a Deaf cast. A Deaf audience can watch without relying on captions like other hearing films. We can watch the full screen without having to look back and forth between actions and captions. We hope the Deaf audience will gain a better understanding of who Jesus is, and we hope the hearing audience will better understand our Deaf culture.”

“As a Deaf director with Deaf cinematographers, we carefully frame actors to ensure signs are still visible and understandable while still being creative with shots,” he continued.

Josselyn is the Chief Media Officer and Producer at Deaf Missions, an organisation committed to spreading the Gospel in ASL to deaf people worldwide.

After adapting the biblical story of Job into a film in 2018 for Deaf audiences, his organisation completed a 38-year project translating the entire Bible into ASL in 2020. Making a film about Jesus seemed like the most natural step, he said.

Deaf Missions aims to eventually translate the new film into over 400 sign languages worldwide.   

For more information visit the official website here.  At present the film is not available to view in Australia, but Deaf Missions has said the aim is to eventually have the film available worldwide.


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