An estimated 200 blind and deaf individuals were treated to a special screening of the movie Hugo over the weekend at SM North EDSA in Quezon City where special features provided entertainment and a more vivid insight about the film benefitting special viewers.
The “Special Movie Screening for the Blind and the Deaf’’ spearheaded by SM Cares also presented other movies on the same day like Life of Pi in SM Baguio; Les Miserables in SM Davao and Taken 2 in SM Iloilo for individuals with special needs.
Bien Mateo, program director of Disability Affairs of SM Cares and SM Supermalls assistant vice president for North Luzon, said the movie Hugo has audio description and closed captioning which enable the blind and the deaf to enjoy the movie just like anybody.
The audio descriptive movie has a special narration of key elements of the film.
Mateo noted that an audio descriptive movie will describe the actions, facial expressions, gestures, costumes, scene changes and even onscreen text of a film, enabling the visually impaired to clearly understand the film.
He said narrated descriptions were added to screen dialogues to add flavor and context to the story without disturbing the original flow of the script.
This feature enables the deaf to follow the story flow without guessing or somebody else’s interpretation.
In the case of close captioning, Mateo said the deaf audience can read the printed words on the screen that also identify the speaker in the scene, the sound effects, music and laughter.
He added that the audio description also provides the sighted person with concise translation of the visual elements.
The rare event was spearheaded by SM Cares, a division of SM Foundation, through its Program on Disability Affairs in partnership with SM Cinema, Deaf-Blind Support Philippines, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and C.A.L.L. (Center for Advocacy, Learning and Livelihood).
Mateo said the film showing was also supported by various People with Disability (PWD) organizations, among them AKAP Pinoy, Philippine Blind Union, National Council on Disability Affairs and Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled.
After the positive feedback in last year’s special screening at the SM Megamall, according to him, they had expanded this year’s screening to other malls to accommodate more persons with visual and hearing impairments. They are also planning to make it not only a once-a-year event but a quarterly one.
“The PWD sector has accepted this program very positively. The families of the PWDs who experienced the sensory-friendly movies in SM Cinemas are very thankful for the experience that they see their children enjoy the cinemas just like anyone else,” Mateo said.
When asked on why the program was launched, he noted that this is consistent with SM’s push for inclusion rather than segregation.
“It has been part of the corporate social responsibility of SM to make all SM Malls a Mall for All, that no one gets left behind, even those members of the family that are physically challenged such as the blind and the deaf. This is one way to integrate them in our society, for them to enjoy the malls and all their offerings just like everyone else,” Mateo said.