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Film Scene creates more accessible movie-going experience with captioning

More information on movie times for regular and open caption screenings can be found on Film Scene's website.

Film Scene is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year as a non-profit cinema in the Iowa City community. Now, the staff are working to cater to a larger community of movie goers by adding open captions to some of their films.

"With film exhibitors it's been big conversation lately about how we can make our spaces more accessible," said Programming Director Rebecca Fons.

Fons said it was the deaf community who first encouraged her to find a more inclusive way for all patrons to experience films at their cinema.

"We were recently approached by Carly Armour at the Student Disability Services at the University of Iowa," said Fons. "She is part of the community, part of the deaf and hard of hearing community, and she asked us what we can do now."

Now, open caption screenings appear one a week as a way to include deaf and hard of hearing patrons. However, anyone can choose to attend those screenings.

"Most of our new releases, because they come from larger studios come to us with that possibility of open captions," said Fons. "So it's easy as flipping a switch to make the captions appear on screen."

"We've gotten people to come in from Cedar Rapids and from Coralville and all around Johnson County and the greater Iowa City area," said Fons.

"We're responding to what the community is asking for, and that is more and more films and more and more programs," said Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler.

Film scene is also making movie-going more equitable off screen.

"We're also working with ASL interpreters who are coming to interpret our introductions. We always offer an introduction by our staff before our films, and so they're coming in and actually interpreting the introductions. And the last screening we did, we did the interpretations of the trailers," said Fons.

Staff hope they can connect more people to this program and their films when they transition into a larger space next fall and offer more screenings in the future.

"We love where we're at, but we are in the back of a building inside the Ped Mall that doesn't have a lot of visibility and accessibility," said Tiefenthaler.

More information on movie times for regular and open caption screenings can be found on Film Scene's website.

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