The Tuba Thieves

The Tuba Thieves

USA | 2023 | 92 min. | Alison O’Daniel

This experimental mix of documentary, recreation (cast with Deaf performers), and essay uses a series of Los Angeles high school tuba thefts as a jumping-off point to skillfully explore the ways in which we engage with sound, music, and speech.

A string of tuba thefts from California public schools serves as a jumping-off point for an auditory journey through Los Angeles. Mixing narrative and non-narrative, documentary and fiction, filmmaker Alison O'Daniel largely eschews spoken dialogue and constructs a collage of intimate encounters with sound and silence. From natural soundscapes to discomfiting layers of industrial noise, the vibrations of the city permeate the lives of every plant, animal, and human within it. At the same time, the film is a vivid exploration of the experiences of ambient and direct sound by Deaf and severely hard-of-hearing individuals. A Prince concert at a school for the Deaf, a soundless piano performance, and a reverberant solo by a Deaf drummer each serve to amplify our understanding of the vital, pulsing undercurrent of noise that runs through us all, a pulse whose presence is best exemplified by the rumble of a tuba, whose absence is felt by the hearing and Deaf alike.

Betsy Cass

  • Director: Alison O’Daniel
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 92 min.
  • Producer: Alison O’Daniel, Rachel Nederveld, Su Kim, Maya E. Rudolph
  • Screenplay: Alison O’Daniel
  • Cinematographers: Derek Howard
  • Editors: Alison O’Daniel, Zack Khalil
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Night Sky (2011)
  • Language: ASL, English
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • International Sales: Cinephil