PARK CITY, Utah (AP) – Marlee Matlin, Jeremy O. Harris and Elijah Hittman walked out of the premiere of a film running in competition at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday night when the closed captioning device failed to work.
Matlin, who is deaf, is serving on the jury, along with Harris and Hitman, for films debuting in the American Dramatic Competition at the festival in Park City, Utah, this week. The jury members walked out en masse upon realizing the situation that had occurred during the premiere of “Magazine Dreams”. Variety first reported the news.
Sundance Institute CEO Joanna Vicente said in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press that the closed captioning device, which relies on Wi-Fi, was tested before the screening and was working, but still malfunctioned.
“Our team immediately worked with the equipment at that location to re-test for the next screening and the device worked flawlessly,” Vicente said. “Our goal is to make all experiences (in person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants. Of course, our accessibility efforts are always evolving and feedback helps drive this forward for the community as a whole.
Access has been a major topic at film festivals for years, and this event once again put the spotlight on how organizers are trying to make changes to accommodate all fans. Vicente said his team is working hard in that area, but acknowledged there is much to learn.
“We are committed to improving the experiences and staying connected for everyone who attends the festivals,” the statement said. “We consider accessibility to be one of the primary drivers of institutional excellence and do this work in partnership with the film teams.”
Matlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vicente said he and his fellow gamblers would have “magazine dreams” in the coming days.
The Sundance Film Festival will run until January 29.
The spelling of ‘hitman’ has been corrected in this version.