[AI] DNA Newspaper Article - Balkans’ blind cinema puts movies in mind

Prashant Naik pranaik at gmail.com
Wed Jul 4 06:23:25 EDT 2007


DNA Newspaper Article dated july4th, 2007


Balkans' blind cinema puts movies in mind



A small screening room in Belgrade is the first theatre dedicated to a blind
audience



Ljilja Cvekic. Belgrade



"From a bird's eye view, the camera zooms in on an ordinary American
provincial town, small houses come in closer and get bigger until we swoop
into one of them, where a girl lies on her bed."

The blind audience listens intently to the voice in the left earphone,
describing the first scene of American Beauty in Serbian. The right earphone
carries the opening score and the first few words of the main character's
monologue in English.

The small screening room in downtown Belgrade, simply equipped with chairs
and tables fitted with headphones, is the first cinema for the blind in the
Balkans.

Run by a Serbian association of the blind, it aims to reach the 25,000
registered blind people in the former Yugoslavia who understand the language
previously called Serbo-Croat, now split into its regional variants.

"I got the idea a long time ago, when trying to enjoy some films with my
wife," says Branko Matic, the head of the Homer association. "It was
impossible for her to read the subtitles and at the same time describe to me
what is happening, what the scene looks like, what are the expressions on
actors' faces."

The adaptation, which costs about 1,000 euros per movie, is done by
volunteers, who read out a detailed description of the scene and actors'
movements, and also role-play the dialogue in Serbian. "By listening, we can
now see in our minds what you can easily see with your eyes," Matic said.

The Serbian voice-over goes only to the left channel of the earphones. The
right channel plays the original sound of the movie, including dialogue in
the original, because, as Matic puts it, "who can replace Laurence Olivier
in Hamlet?".

Watching takes practice, and concentration. Matic, who lost his sight as a
child, said that for people who were able to see for a part of their lives
it was not difficult to visualise what was being described. For those born
blind, it was not much different from a radio play.

"It goes real fast," said Suzana, 15, after the film ends. "You have to
concentrate really hard to experience it and I may not pay attention to
every detail, but it's not so important."
American Beauty was one of the first 10 films to be adapted, along with
Citizen Kane and The Pianist. They were shown at a three-day festival to
celebrate the cinema's opening. —Reuters

End of Article



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