Stuttering is as old as human speech. The biblical Moses stuttered. Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, King George VI and James Earl Jones were also afflicted with the disorder--yet it remains a medical enigma. Unspeakable examines the nature, history and treatment of a speech impediment that affects about 1% of the world’s population regardless of language, culture, class or ethnicity.
Throughout the ages there have been all sorts of explanations for what causes stuttering but attempts at curing it have been as frustrating as finding its cause. While stuttering inevitably causes emotional distress, which aggravates the disorder, there is no evidence that it is a personality disorder. Speech therapy for pre-schoolers who stutter can be quite effective but treatment for older children and adults is often frustrating and disappointing.
John Paskievich, the film's director, is a person who stutters. He also narrates and is an active participant in the film. His story and the stories of others in the film are poignant, funny, angry and courageous, providing eloquent testimony to what it means to live imprisoned in what the poet W.H. Auden called "the tower of stutter."
According to Paskievich, "the film is a call for liberation, not from stuttering, but from the ignorance and stigma that surround it."
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Unspeakable, John Paskievich, provided by the National Film Board of Canada