Filmmakers put the spotlight on the champion football team at Maryland School for the Deaf.
HOLLYWOOD -- A former "Dancing with the Stars" champ is part of an Oscar-nominated film.
Nyle DiMarco is one of the executive producers of the documentary short "Audible." The film takes you inside the Maryland School for the Deaf, home to one of the country's championship high school football teams.
DiMarco and director Matthew Ogens are both from Maryland, and Ogens knew there was a story there.
"It actually took 12 years to get made, and I went back to the school every year," said Ogens. "Lots of different partners and starts and maybes and no's and it just was the number one project for me that I sort of couldn't let go of."
The movie focuses on Amaree, one of the team's star players.
"I think our initial goal with this documentary was to really show that deaf people are pretty much like anybody else, right? We have the same issues. We're all just trying to figure ourselves out, right?" said DiMarco.
The film also looks at the suicide of a former classmate named Teddy who had transferred to a different high school where he stood out for being deaf.
"It's a cautionary tale, in some ways, of what can go wrong when you don't include people and you bully people," said Ogens. "I don't want to speak for Teddy and say that was all that was going on in his life but, certainly, that was a part of it."
"Just a fun fact: Deaf people actually are the creators of the huddle. It comes from the 1950s when deaf people started playing football against other teams and wanted to insure that their plays weren't visible," said DiMarco.
What is visible in the Oscar world this year is American Sign Language, both in "Audible" and in the feature film "CODA." We also see sign language in the Japanese movie "Drive My Car."
"This is something we've never seen in Oscars' history and I'm so thrilled," said DiMarco. "I think this is an exciting moment for all of us, and it would be absolutely groundbreaking news if we were to take home the award. I think no matter what happens in the future, though, we're going to see a deeper dive into stories about the community because I think what we're standing on now is simply the tip of the iceberg."
"Audible" is now streaming on Netflix.