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Subtitles for the deaf

Deaf people will be able to enjoy the magic of the big screen from this week as two cinemas start showing films with subtitles to gauge the demand for such movies.

The Eden and Empire Cinemas will be projecting subtitled blockbuster movies a couple of times a month and may raise or reduce the frequency depending on demand.

George Vella, a deaf person and former president of the Deaf Association, welcomed the introduction of subtitles, saying they provided deaf people and sign-language users with equal access to public life.

This was a human right that should be protected and promoted by authorities, he said, adding that it helped the deaf community to achieve accessibility.

The need for subtitles in cinemas was highlighted through a recent survey carried out by Lithuanian student Ieva Lolat. She found that the 30 deaf people she interviewed craved more subtitles on local TV stations and cinemas so they too could follow the dialogue.

Charles Pace, managing director of KRS Film Distributors, said he had made arrangements with suppliers for subtitled films to be made available at cinemas equipped with digital and 3D systems. Unlike the older 35 millimetre system, digital and 3D can take subtitles without the need to buy costly additional equipment.

“KRS is pleased that both the Eden and Empire cinemas have responded favourably to the demand in agreeing to screen films with subtitles on particular days and times which will be notified through their daily newspaper advertisements,” he said.

The films with subtitles to be shown this month in both cinemas include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Tron Legacy and Gulliver’s Travels.

Simon De Cesare, from Eden Cinemas in St Julians, said the first subtitled film to be shown will be Harry Potter on Saturday at 6 p.m.

So far the plan was to screen a subtitled show per blockbuster. This would increase according to demand. While the long-term plan was to keep showing subtitled films, he said it was difficult to plan ahead since the cinema had its restrictions given that only three out of the 17 screens were digital and could take subtitles.

Jimmy Zammit, of the Empire Cinema in Buġibba, said only two of its seven cinemas could show subtitles. The plan was to show a subtitled movie every Tuesday but this would change according to demand.

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