Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Touch the Sound." A film about deaf people. But not for deaf people.

I've just found out that the much-anticipated documentary "Touch the Sound", about deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie, will not be released with subtitles.

What the...?

On Roger Ebert's "Answer Man" site, a letter writer expands that "according to a representative of the distribution company, the director" [Thomas Riedelsheimer] "felt that 'the visual aspect of the film is as important as the aural' and that 'the subtitles would be hurtful' in the theatrical release. So this film is about deaf people, but is not for deaf people."

Ebert followed up with the Distribution Company, Shadow Distribution, and reports that spokesman Ken Eisen claims the problem with this is that too few theatres are equipped with rear-projection systems to display special subtitles. But they will patronize the little deaf customers by "working with theaters in each city in which 'Touch the Sound' plays to set up at least one special screening at which the film will be interpreted by a sign language interpreter so that it is as accessible as possible to all audiences who wish to see it."

Except, of course, the late-deafened who aren't yet fluent, like myself and millions of other late-deafened adults. Or users of Cued Speech, distinctly different from American Sign Language.

What a jackass.

To Ebert's credit, he (Ebert) points out that "this answer sidesteps the possibility of actually subtitling all prints of film. The special screening with sign language is not much of a solution, since all the other screenings will be inaccessible, and watching signing during a movie is more difficult than reading subtitles, particularly given the lighting conditions. I believe the non-subtitle decision by director Thomas Riedelsheimer is wrong-headed."

If you're as pissed off about this as I am, let Shadow Distribution (shadow@prexar.com) know. I'd love to pass Director Thomas Riedelsheimer's email along too, but have not been able to find it online.

As for Riedelsheimer, if the unbelievably callous quote attributed to him above is accurate, he's one hearing person who can go screw himself. Big time.



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