The Tuba Thieves

Director: Alison O’Daniel
Screenwriters: Alison O’Daniel

Institute History


A spate of robberies in Southern California schools had an oddly specific target: tubas. In this work of creative nonfiction, d/Deaf first-time feature director Alison O’Daniel presents the impact of these crimes from an unexpected angle. The film unfolds mimicking a game of telephone, where sound’s feeble transmissibility is proven as the story bends and weaves to human interpretation and miscommunication. The result is a stunning contribution to cinematic language. O’Daniel has developed a syntax of deafness that offers a complex, overlaid, surprising new texture, which offers a dimensional experience of deafness and reorients the audience auditorily in an unfamiliar and exhilarating way. 

Blending documentary and fictionalized performances by Nyke, a Deaf woman playing herself, and Geovanny, a drum major of a burglarized, now-tubaless band, the film documents their lives during the years of the robberies. Against a backdrop of Los Angeles never quite seen — or heard, rather — quite like this, the main character is sound and lack thereof. A finely tuned sense of silence and sound — aural and conceptual — are collaged to create this utterly singular sonic and cinematic experience.

All film screenings of this title will be shown with Open Captions.

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]