Marlee Matlin and fellow Sundance jurors walk out of theater after film failed to provide captioning


Marlee Matlin and fellow jurors at the Sundance Film Festival walked out of the premiere of Magazine Dreams after film failed to provide captioning

Marlee Matlin and her fellow Drama jurors walked out of the premiere of Magazine Dreams at the Sundance Film Festival Friday after the festival failed to provide adequate captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired. 

The Oscar winner, 57, who is deaf, along with fellow jurors Jeremy O. Harris and Eliza Hittman, made the joint decision to leave the screening after a caption device provided for the Coda actress didn’t work, according to Variety. 

The device was later repaired, but the incident demonstrated a larger problem taking place behind the scenes to make the films being showcased accessible to all viewers.  

Walkout: Marlee Matlin and her fellow Drama jurors walked out of a screening of Magazine Dreams Friday, after the Sundance Film Festival failed to provide adequate captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired audience

Marlee, who shared her excitement at being a part of the jury on social media, joined in writing a letter to filmmakers explaining why accessibility was so important. 

‘The U.S. independent cinema movement began as a way to make film accessible to everyone, not just those with the most privileges among us.’

‘As a jury our ability to celebrate the work that all of you have put into making these films has been disrupted by the fact that they are not accessible to all three of us.’

Magazine Dreams: All three jurors said they plan to watch Magazine Dreams, a drama starring Jonathan Majors as a Black body builder, together at a later time

Magazine Dreams: All three jurors said they plan to watch Magazine Dreams, a drama starring Jonathan Majors as a Black body builder, together at a later time

Letter: Marlee, who is deaf, joined her fellow jurors in writing a letter which read in part, 'As a jury our ability to celebrate the work that all of you have put into making these films has been disrupted by the fact that they are not accessible to all three of us'; Pictured 2023

Letter: Marlee, who is deaf, joined her fellow jurors in writing a letter which read in part, ‘As a jury our ability to celebrate the work that all of you have put into making these films has been disrupted by the fact that they are not accessible to all three of us’; Pictured 2023

The magazine spoke to multiple sources who claimed the jury repeatedly expressed concerns that films being showcased at the festival be captioned, in keeping with the practice at other international events, including Cannes and Venice. 

Application for credentials to this year’s festival asked attendees if they needed access to captioning.

The outlet reported that despite the requests, many filmmakers have declined for various reasons, including the cost of making a new print.

Sundance: Sundance CEO Joanna Vicente provided a statement which read, 'Our goal is to make all experiences (in person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants'

Sundance: Sundance CEO Joanna Vicente provided a statement which read, ‘Our goal is to make all experiences (in person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants’

Accessibility: Sources say the Drama jury repeatedly requested that films have captions, following practices now in place at both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals

Accessibility: Sources say the Drama jury repeatedly requested that films have captions, following practices now in place at both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals

Other reportedly expressed concerns that a captioned film might actually result in a lower selling price for the movie as they look for a distributor. 

Sundance CEO Joana Vicente provided a statement which read, ‘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.’ 

All three jurors said they plan to watch Magazine Dreams, a drama starring Jonathan Majors as a Black body builder, together at a later time.

Reasons: Many filmmakers have declined to provide captioning  for various reasons, including the cost of making a new print and concerns that a captioned film might actually result in a lower selling price for the movie as they look for a distributor

Reasons: Many filmmakers have declined to provide captioning  for various reasons, including the cost of making a new print and concerns that a captioned film might actually result in a lower selling price for the movie as they look for a distributor

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