NOVA Employment Focus on Ability short film festival finalist raises the volume for an inspirational friend

Friends on screen: Victoria Valassis of Alfords Point (on right) with her friend Julian, the star of her short film that is a finalist in the NOVA Employment Focus on Ability short film festival.
Friends on screen: Victoria Valassis of Alfords Point (on right) with her friend Julian, the star of her short film that is a finalist in the NOVA Employment Focus on Ability short film festival.

Victoria Valassis of Alfords Point hopes her film inspired by her friend who is deaf, will have a strong chance in this year's NOVA Employment Focus on Ability short film festival.

Her documentary features and focuses on Julian, 19, who was born deaf. He lived in silence until he received cochlear implants.

The pair met during a class a TAFE.

"I could sense he had something different about him but never asked," Ms Valassis said. "I could also tell he was shy of hisdisability and one day he didn't know how to tell me he was deaf.

"I thought he was pretty cool and special and I was fascinated by his story. He showed me how he could bluetooth his phone to his hearing device. We continued to talk about his life and he has gradually opened up about things ever since."

She said she always wanted to highlight the contributions people with a disability make in the community.

Then her passion turned to another interest, film-making.

"I volunteered with the disabled, homeless and older community during school and spend my weekends working at a retirement village," she said.

"When finishing school, I was torn into pursuing social work or film-making. I started off as a disability support worker at Sylvanvale as I wanted to make a difference for the individuals and myself."

Inspirational subject: The film tells the story of Julian, who was born deaf.

Inspirational subject: The film tells the story of Julian, who was born deaf.

Her film titled My Friend, Jules, tells the inspirational and personal story of an individual close to her heart.

"When this short film festival came up seeing it advertised on a train, I was beyond excited as I could now incorporate my two passions. I thought, what better person to do it with than with my friend, Jules," Ms Valassis said.

"His story has come to life in this documentary. It begins with the journey of his early life, leading into an interview, then into an inspiring twist of happiness showing his ability and all the stereotypes he breaks. What I love about the documentary is the rawness, innocence and surprises within it.

"My intent for this documentary was to encourage and bring hope. I wanted to allow my friend to express his feelings and inspire others that you should never give up and live life to its absolute fullest. I wanted to encourage people that you have the ability to do anything and dream big. It is possible to travel, make friends, have a part-time job, study your favourite course and play sports like Julian does. Julian absolutely loves surfing and the ocean. I wanted to incorporate things he loves and is passionate about."

Last year, the duo was chosen to go to Texas for a film conference with eight other students.

"We included the footage we took overseas in this documentary," Ms Valassis said.

"We looked out for each other and our bond and trust became even stronger. When we started to film for this project, he was embarrassed but we got there, his words came straight from his heart. He is a great role model and a humble human."

Voting has closed but the film can be viewed here.

Comments