Marlee Matlin Highlights Importance of Open Captioned Films After Sundance Jury Strike

A day after Sundance jury member Marlee Matlin walked out of the “Magazine Dreams” premiere in protest, along with the rest of the festival jury, the Oscar winner spoke in depth about the importance of open subtitles in the movies. speaking in the Variety and Stacy’s Pita Chip Rise Brunch, an event celebrating female creators on January 21, Matlin passionately advocated for better inclusive storytelling.

When asked about his work on the 2022 best picture winner “CODA” (which also swept the 2021 Sundance festival), Matlin emphasized the lengths it took for his film to embrace all movie fans. “The movie was open captioned, the whole movie, so you couldn’t just turn it off and on,” Matlin said. Variety Senior entertainment writer Angelique Jackson. “For me, it made me feel very included, because I could sit and watch the movie with everyone reacting in the same way, at the same time, feeling the same emotions. It worked on many different levels. It’s about ‘CODA,’ and it’s a film I’m very proud of.”

On the Friday before this conversation, Matlin was unable to sit with the Sundance audience at the premiere of the film “Magazine Dreams” after the closed captioning device provided to him did not work. Variety exclusively reported that, in a sign of solidarity, all of the jury members decided to walk out of the theater with her to highlight a larger issue related to the festival’s ability to make films accessible to all viewers.

In their conversation, Matlin opened up about his goals, ambitions, and his first time directing for television. Towards the end of the discussion, he returned to his earlier statements on open captioning, stressing the importance of it.

“I am the queen of subtitles, if you want to know the truth,” she continued. “Subtitles are not just for deaf people. I’ve heard that ‘The Crown,’ which is wonderful, is probably a hard show to get your head around. So you turn on the subtitles, how many people turn on the subtitles for ‘The Crown?’… The subtitles are for everyone, clearly. So I keep making noise and spreading the message to everyone that it’s crucial to be able to have subtitles, whatever we’re talking about, everything, on the screen.”

“You’re on a plane and you want to watch a movie and I need to watch it with subtitles. But the airline, for some reason, chooses, and it’s a strange reason, which movie you can watch with subtitles, even though they are already subtitled. Not like everyone else who can pick whatever’s in there, they’ll give us just one choice out of 10 of whatever they can have. So why are you making the decision for us? That’s just a part of the many things I have to work on. There’s so much out there.”

Watch the full conversation above.

He Variety and Stacy’s Pita Chip’s “Rise” event also featured two additional conversations: The second panel featured Debby Ryan (“Insatiable”), Algee Smith (“Euphoria”), Grace Byers (“Harlem”), Arianna Bocco (President of IFC Films), Lily Gladstone (“Fancy Dance”) and Karrueche Tran (“Claws”).

Panelists discussed the intricacies of film and the entertainment industry; each recounted how they got to the point in their career that brought them to this Sundance panel. “Fancy Dance” actress Gladstone explained while mentoring children that she learned that “people are people and we all have something really important and unique to share and sometimes there’s a camera there to capture it.” The panelists proceeded to discuss how they approach their craft, whether it’s acting in movies and television or acquiring and distributing entertainment.

Ryan elaborated on the daunting aspect of presenting your trade. “You get so lost and found in this whole body of work that so many people have created. But then the public-facing element is really daunting and a bit confusing and there’s no roadmap for that either,” he said. Ryan concluded by advising the ward to stay on the job. “Focus on the job,” he said. “If you feel like you don’t deserve to be there, then you deserve to be there. Learn it. Take the class, talk to the person, and if they’re there, be where you need to be.”

Watch the full conversation above.

The final conversation included Stacy Madison, founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips; Nisha Ganatra (Late Night Director) and Rhasheda Boyd (Frito-Lay VP of Marketing) discussing Stacy’s first Pita Chips short film, “Rise,” which was also screened at the presentation.

“Rise” sheds light on the struggles facing women entrepreneurs today and the fight for progress. The film highlights three previous winners of the Stacy’s Rise Project: Jocelyn Ramirez, Maria Jose Palacio, and Sajani Amarasiri.

Filmmaker Ganatra explained the inspiration behind her short: “We thought about what makes you resilient and it seemed like it all came from our roots. they were roots [that] Give us resilience and with resilience we rise. And then we all work together. It was really a collaborative group of all women coming together to make this movie a reality.”

Stacy Madison added that a film like “Rise” has provided an opportunity not only for young women around the world, but shows their own twins that women can create their own story. “[‘Rise’] it shows that in the future our future can be different and you can do it”. The founder reveled in the idea that her daughters could continue, knowing that there are no longer “certain jobs that are okay for a daughter or a son.” They no longer have to ask the question: “Where is a woman’s place?”

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