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Cinema industry move welcomed by HRC

Human Rights Commission

16 November 2005

Cinema industry move welcomed by Human Rights Commission

The introduction of new captioned screening technology, allowing a greater range of film titles to be screened far earlier than previously, is being welcomed by the Human Rights Commission.

The new technology, which is being sponsored by the Motion Picture Distributor Association and NZ Relay, means that Deaf and hearing impaired New Zealanders will no longer have to wait for a selected range of titles to arrive from Australia or the US.

Captioned movies can now run through a new digital system called DTS Access which places captions on a regular 35mm film print. Discs are produced for 90 percent of all major releases and are available at the same time or not much later than regular release movies.

As well as reducing the timeframe before they're available, the introduction of DTS Access will widen the choice of movies and help to ensure supply as the disks are far cheaper than the prints used previously.

"This is a very positive development and means that Deaf and hearing impaired people can see the latest releases at the cinema with everyone else instead of having to wait for the DVD release," says Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt.

"We would encourage Deaf or hearing impaired people and their friends and family to look out for captioned film screenings in their area. Strong attendance will help the screenings become a regular feature of the cinema experience", she says.

Angela Sew Hoy, who is profoundly Deaf, said "Recently my partner and I saw a captioned movie, and found it excellent with superior subtitles on DTS - far better than the old 35mm movie for clarity and positioning of character dialogue on-screen. It was fabulous!"

Three movie theatres have been fitted with the new technology. They are Village SkyCity in St Lukes, Auckland; Reading in Courtenay Central, Wellington and Hoyts on Moorhouse Ave in Christchurch. The extension of the new technology to other areas will depend on admission levels and demand in the initial locations.

The new technology has been used for popular recent titles Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bewitched and Cinderella Man and the Cameron Diaz / Toni Collette comedy currently screening, In her shoes. Initial interest in the screenings has been positive.

There are an estimated 420,000 to 450,000 Deaf or hearing impaired New Zealanders. Captioned screenings appeal to other audiences as well - they will be of interest to older people and those for whom English is a second language.

Captioned screenings are more explanatory than sub-titled films as they feature descriptions of sound effects as well as dialogue indicating who is speaking. They provide Deaf and hearing impaired people with greater access to and enjoyment of popular films.

ENDS

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