Judges abandon Sundance premiere due to caption error

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PARK CITY, Utah (TBEN) — Marlee Matlin, Jeremy O. Harris and Eliza Hitman left the premiere of a film in competition at the Sundance Film Festival Friday night after the captioning machine failed.

Matlin, who is deaf, is on the judging panel this week with Harris and Hitman for films debuting this week in the US Dramatic Competition at the festival in Park City, Utah. The judges collectively walked out when they realized the situation, which happened during the premiere of “Magazine Dreams.” Variety was the first to break the news.

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Joana Vicente, the CEO of the Sundance Institute, said in a statement to The The Bharat Express News Saturday that the captioning device, which relies on Wi-Fi, had been checked and worked before the screening, but was still faulty.

“Our team immediately worked with the devices at that location to retest them for the next screening, and the device worked without any glitches,” Vicente said. “Our goal is to make all experiences (in-person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants. Admittedly, our accessibility efforts are always evolving and feedback helps us move forward for the community as a whole.”

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Accessibility at film festivals has been a hot topic for years, and the incident highlighted how organizers are trying to make changes to accommodate all fans. Vicente said her team has been working hard in that area, but acknowledged there is still more to learn.

“We are committed to enhancing experiences and connection for all festival goers,” the statement said. “We view accessibility as one of the key drivers of institutional excellence and this work is done in collaboration with film teams.”

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Matlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vicente said she and her fellow judges would see “Magazine Dreams” in the coming days.

The Sundance Film Festival runs through January 29.

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