Sundance festival jurors leave film premiere over no subtitles for deaf moviegoers
The failure of closed captioning devices has sparked a larger debate about accessibility in the film festival community
Festival goers attend Acura Festival Village at Sundance Film Festival 2023 on January 21, in Park City, Utah. – AFP pic, January 22, 2023
JURORS at the ongoing 2023 edition of the Sundance Film Festival walked out of the premiere screening of ‘Magazine Dreams’ on Friday night due to a dispute about accessibility for hearing-impaired audience members.
The closed captioning device provided to one of the jurors did not work, and the other jurors, including Jeremy O. Harris and Eliza Hittman, stood in solidarity with their fellow juror Marlee Matin.
A Sundance spokesperson said that the captioning devices were working properly in tech rehearsals but malfunctioned once a large audience was in the room. The incident has sparked a larger debate about accessibility in the film festival community.
Sundance CEO Joana Vicente stated that the festival is committed to improving experiences and belonging for all festival attendees and that accessibility is a primary driver of institutional excellence.
She said, “our goal is to make all experiences (in person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants. Our accessibility efforts are, admittedly, always evolving and feedback helps drive it forward for the community as a whole. The screening device used to provide closed captions did not work at one of our Friday evening premieres. The jury left and will see it together at another time during the festival.”
“Our team immediately worked with the devices in that venue to test them again for the next screening and the device worked without any malfunction. Our team has been working hard in this area but there is always more work to do. We all still need to do more as we learn and consider the community at large.
“We are committed to improving experiences & belonging for all festival attendees. We consider accessibility as one of the primary drivers of institutional excellence and this work is done in partnership with film teams.”
Following the incident, the jury released a letter to filmmakers asking them to make a stronger effort to ensure their films are accessible to deaf audiences, and Sundance began including open captions during the introduction videos and sponsor ads for all films screened on Saturday.
source – The Vibes