The teen years can be a challenge. It is a time when people struggle with their identity and their place in the world. Even for the most “normal” of teens, these years can be a struggle. Add to that having to deal with a disability. In Matthew Ogens’s documentary short Audible, we meet a young football player at a school for the deaf as he struggles with teen angst, deafness, and the loss of a friend.
Amaree McKenstry-Hall plays for football for the Maryland School for the Deaf. At the beginning of the film we see the team losing its first game against a deaf school in sixteen years. It also breaks the 42-game winning streak against all teams. For regular high school athletes, this would be a difficult time. We watch as Amaree and his schoolmates deal not only with the defeat, but with the struggles of facing a world as a deaf person. When school is over Amaree and his classmates will face discrimination and isolation.
As we get to know Amaree, we learn that his father left when he became deaf, and the two are working on rebuilding a relationship. His father, a onetime drug dealer, is a minister in a local church. He also is a bit unsure of his relationship with a girlfriend. Amaree’s biggest emotional challenge is dealing with the suicide of a classmate.
All of these are issues that many teens face. As such this is very much a look at coming-of-age in America. But when you include the challenges of getting ready to move into living fully in a hearing world, it all becomes multiplied.
Because it is a short (running time:39 minutes), it doesn’t have a chance to go very deep into Amaree’s stuggles, but we do see enough to understand that like all teens, he has many pressures. But we also see that he has qualities that may be helpful as he moves on in life.
Audible streams on Netflix.
Photos courtesy of Netflix.