The Tuba Thieves

Filmstill The Tuba Thieves

The Tuba Thieves

The Tuba Thieves
Alison O’Daniel
Camera Lucida 2023
Documentary Film
91 minutes
German Subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing, English

A series of tuba thefts that occurred ten years ago at Californian schools is the starting point of a multilayered and entertaining reflection about sounds and music, how they are represented in images and described in words. The artist Alison O’Daniel tells the story from the perspective of Deaf people; her film resembles a musical composition that varies its material in several movements.

In one sequence we hear the swelling drone of a passenger plane flying at low altitude over a residential area and gradually drowning out the sounds of the wind before we first see its shadow glide over the houses and at last the source of the noise. The subtitles, an integral part of this film, not only describe the sounds in amazing precision but also quantify their acoustic pressure in decibels.

Alternating between passages with and without sound motivates us to be more differentiated, focused, targeted in our perception. The film revolves around the motifs of hearing, sounds, noise pollution more than around the narrative of the mysteriously vanished tubas, more even than around the impressive protagonist Nyeisha “Nyke” Prince who plays a Deaf drummer in “The Tuba Thieves.” The tuba thefts are first and foremost a metaphor: What does the lack of a specific sound do to our perception?

Christoph Terhechte

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Alison O’Daniel
Alison O’Daniel
Derek Howard
Alison O’Daniel, Zack Khalil
Alison O’Daniel, Su Kim, Maya E Rudolph, Rachel Nederveld
World Sales
Shoshi Korman