The Tuba Thieves – Director Alison O’Daniel

Alison O’Daniel’s powerful feature THE TUBA THIEVES re-examines a tuba-stealing crime spree that took place between 2011 and 2013 and the ramifications it had on students, marching bands and the high schools from which they were stolen. The Tuba Thieves starts from these questions. It is a film about listening, but it is not tethered to the ear. It is a film about Deaf gain, hearing loss and the perception of sound in Los Angeles – by animals, plants and humans. The human protagonist of the film is Nyke Prince, a Deaf woman whose story runs parallel to Geovanny Marroquin’s. Geovanny was the drum major at Centennial HS when their tubas were stolen. Their stories are connected by the omnipresence of noise pollution – helicopters, airplanes, leaf blowers, car traffic. The audience is the third protagonist – their experience making sense of the film is the film. The Tuba Thieves reverses the standard process offilmmaking so that listening and lived experiences of hearing shape the method of filmmaking. Director, screenwriter, co-producer, co-editor and co-sound designer Alison O’Daniel joins us to talk about her own experiences living on the d/Deaf spectrum, why she decided to make a film called The Tuba Thieves that did not focus on the thieves, but instead focused on the sonic experience of living and listening in Los Angeles and exploring the idea of ownership over space and air, and how sound travels.


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About the filmmaker – Alison O’Daniel is a filmmaker and visual artist. She has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; Art in General, New York; Centre d’art Contemporain Passerelle, Brest, France; Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia. O’Daniel is a United States Artist 2022 Disability Futures Fellow and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow and has received grants from Ford Foundation; Sundance; Creative Capital; Field of Vision; ITVS; Chicken & Egg; SFFILM; Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation; Rema Hort Mann Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation. She has attended residencies at the Wexner Center Film/Video Studio Program; Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown; and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She was included in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing on O’Daniel’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; Artforum; Los Angeles Times; BOMB; ArtReview. She is represented by Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles and is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.


94% on RottenTomatoes

“If there’s an actual protagonist in this formally adventurous effort, it’s the synesthetic dance between images and sound (or silence) and how these interactions inform our perception of the world, depending on whether you are a hearing person, someone hard-of-hearing or a deaf individual.” – Carlos Aguilar, VARIETY

“In sharing this experience of navigating an audist world, [O’Daniel] not only attunes hearing audiences to what they often ignore but also refigures the gap—not as loss—but as a space of Deaf gain that holds other poetic and political possibilities for connection.” – Jordan Lord, DOCUMENTARY MAGAZINE

“A brilliant interplay with captioning, sound, and silence… The Tuba Thieves is an immersive sensory experience unlike anything audiences have encountered before.” – Pat Mullen, POV MAGAZINE

“Its originality of conception on multiple levels and baseline excellence in technical execution are clearly a cut above.” – Vadim Rizov, FILMMAKER MAGAZINE

“We are treated to a superb and visually engrossing rendition of visual poetry in ASL that appears nothing less than world-class in the hands of seasoned stalwart performer Russell Harvard and renowned deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim.” – Del Whetter, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER