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The Tuba Thieves

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Framed around a string of unsolved tuba thefts in Los Angeles from 2011 to 2013, the film cuts against the grain: instead of investigating the crimes like a conventional documentary, it reframes them as a metaphysical experiment — how does the absence of sound affect our experience? The film reimagines closed captions, expressing stories and ways of hearing through text placement, font size, colour, and punctuation that’s equally playful and profound. The result is a vibrant new cinematic experience — part historical documentary, part poetic video essay, with interwoven narrative vignettes — that immerses you in a rich parallel world, where you “hear” the humming of plants, the vibrations in the air from Californian forest fires, a 70s punk rock deaf concert, a performance of John Cage’s infamous 4′33″… It forces you to reevaluate your relationship with the quotidian sounds of your life. Drawing on her lived experience as a d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing person, director Alison O’Daniel transcends assumptions of sound, silence, and language in this groundbreaking hybrid documentary.

The Tuba Thieves, by Alison O’Daniel, is a groundbreaking work of art, a wonderfully different, beautiful film that showcases creative captioning and visual and audio poetry.
Chicago Reader


Q&A on September 30 & October 2


Community Partner


Nyeisha “Nyke” Prince, Russell Harvard, Geovanny Marroquin, Warren “WAWA” Snipe, Ajia Jones

Country of Origin







In American Sign Language and English with open captions

Film Contact
Content Warning

Coarse & Sexual Language

91 min
Documentary Women Directors

Book Tickets

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Executive Producer

Wendy Ettinger, Maida Lynn, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen


Rachel Nederveld, Alison O’Daniel, Su Kim, Maya E. Rudolph


Derek Howard


Alison O’Daniel, Zach Khalil

Production Design

Mboni Maumba, Clover Singsen, Heather Quesada

Original Music

Christine Sun Kim, Ethan Frederick Greene, Steve Roden


Alison O'Daniel headshot

Alison O'Daniel

Alison O’Daniel is a filmmaker and visual artist. She has screened and exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Centro Centro, Madrid, Spain; Renaissance Society, Chicago; Art in General, New York; and many more. O’Daniel is a United States Artist 2022 Disability Futures Fellow and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow. She was included in Filmmaker magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film and writing. She is an Assistant Professor of Film at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

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