theater offers deaf, hearing impaired captioned film
By Susan Glairon, Camera Staff Writer
LOUISVILLE - Sam Sirkin said he doesn't remember the last time he watched a first-run movie in a theater.
The Boulder resident loves the big screen, but a large hearing loss and distortion problems make it difficult for Sirkin, 67, to follow a movie, even with a headset.
"Louder isn't necessarily better," he said.
But on Tuesday night, Sirkin and 15 other deaf and hearing-impaired people attended a captioned presentation of "Pirates of the Caribbean" at the Colorado Cinemas Colony Square Stadium 12.
It was the first time in more than three years a Boulder County theater showed a captioned movie, said Debbie Mohney, the Colorado coordinator for Self Help for Hard of Hearing People.
Sometimes Mohney and others drive to theaters in Aurora or Cherry Creek, but usually they wait for movies to come out on DVD and video and watch them accompanied by the caption feature on televisions.
"Most of these people haven't gone to the movies in years," Mohney said.
Inside the theater, moviegoers chatted excitedly - many using sign language - while the previews came on without captions. When the movie began, yellow tinged words appeared with the dialogue, usually beneath the person talking. Sounds, such as a knock on the door, or music, were indicated with words or symbols.
"Finally, I have equal access to the movie theater," signed Loveland resident Marie Cacciatore, 54, whose hearing husband, Don, 56, translated.
Marie has been deaf since birth. Don lost some hearing in recent years.
Mohney contacted California-based InSight Cinema, which arranged to bring the film to Louisville. The nonprofit markets first-run open captioned movies to theaters nationwide.
Out of 36,000 movie screens in the country, about 300 have shown captioned films, according to InSight. Steve Ellis, head of film for InSight Cinema, said it takes time to get the word out.
"It's a learning process and a willingness to do something different," Ellis said.
Captions are preferable to the assisted-listening devices available at theaters because those who are deaf don't benefit from headsets and often the headsets don't work, Mohney said. And in movies in which actors speak in heavy accents, such as the newly released "Under the Tuscan Sun," it's difficult to understand, even with headsets.
"What they have done in effect is left out a whole population of people," Mohney said. "There are social aspects. You can't go out with your (hearing) friends and enjoy a movie."
"Pirates of the Caribbean" is not a new movie - it was released July 9 - although it not yet available on video.
Studios won't release the captioned version at the same time as the full release. Several studios won't allow their films to be captioned. Usually captioned movies are not shown on weekends.
"We've complained about it," Mohney said.
Cliff Godfrey, vice president Colorado Cinemas, said Colorado Cinemas will book captioned movies whenever InSight makes a request.
Contact Susan Glairon at (303) 473-1392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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