Members of the Sundance Film Festival jury left a screening of a US Dramatic Competition title Friday before seeing the film due to a glitch with the theater’s captioning devices, sources familiar with the situation said. The News84Media.
During the screening for Magazine Dreams, the Elijah Bynum-directed film that stars Jonathan Majors, the devices typically provided to all audience members who are deaf and hard of hearing, including juror Marlee Matlin, did not work. Matlin and fellow jurors Jeremy O. Harris and Eliza Hittman all exited the screening.
Later that evening, the jurors attended a different screening, where the captioning devices were functioning properly. They plan to see Magazine Dreams at a later time, according to the festival.
The jurors have sent a letter, obtained by THRto festival filmmakers that criticized the lack of open captioning for competition titles.
“We have all traveled to Utah to celebrate independent films and those who devote their lives to making them,” the message read. “There’s a thrill to sit in a room with others who love films and cheer for them together and Sundance has been an important place for each of us to do that over our varied careers. The US 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.”
CEO Sundance Institute Joana Vicente said in a statement about the situation that the festival’s accessibility efforts are “always evolving” and that the feedback was appreciated. “Our team has been working hard in this area but there is always more work to do,” she said, in part. “We all still need to do more as we learn and consider the community at large.”
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