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NEWS > ENTERTAINMENT > NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND TO PROTEST BLINDNESS

blind person with cane

NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND TO PROTEST BLINDNESS

October 2 2008

Baltimore, MD – The National Foundation for the Blind (NFB) is planning to protest 75 screenings of the new movie ‘Blindness’ when it releases this Friday. The film portrays a world in which every person but one has been stricken by an epidemic that renders them blind. The world then descends into chaos with riots and violence. The film is based on a 1995 novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago and stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

"The movie portrays blind people as monsters, and I believe it to be a lie," said Marc Maurer, president of the Baltimore-based NFB "Blindness doesn't turn decent people into monsters."blindness poster

Maurer, who himself is blind, stated that several staffers from his organization attended a preview screening of the film and all were ‘offended’. The organization is basing its protests on the portrayal of blind people as disoriented and unable to take care of themselves.

"We face a 70 percent unemployment rate and other social problems because people don't think we can do anything, and this movie is not going to help — at all," said a spokesperson for the organization. “Hollywood has consistently portrayed the blind as inept bumbling fools and this film, if you can call it that, is the ultimate rendition of that attitude. We have seen the light, so to speak, and will not stand for this kind of prejudice.”

The filmmakers maintain that the blindness portrayed in the film is a metaphor and not to be taken literally. Miramax, the studio behind the film, issued a statement supporting the director and content of the work.

“Fernando Meirelles has crafted a moving and touching story. A courageous parable about the triumph of the human spirit when civilization breaks down," said the company in part. “We are saddened to learn that the National Federation of the Blind plans to protest the film `Blindness.’ It was not our intent to offend anyone, even those who won’t be attending our films because they can’t see."

The NFB plans to picket screenings of the film in at least 21 states. The organization boasts 50,000 members across the United States.

“I’ve never seen, excuse me, heard of anything like this happening before,” said Scrape TV Entertainment analyst Tracey Temple. “It’s a totally bizarre objection. I’ve seen the film and it in no way trivializes the plight of blind people. It’s an allegory, a bad one, but an allegory nonetheless. Its fantasy and shouldn’t be taken literally. It is kind of funny though that an organization for the blind is protesting of all things a movie. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of people going to see the movie making fun of the protestors. It’s easy after all. Of course that also depends on whether or not anyone actually goes to see the movie at all.the three monkeys

Critics have not been kind to the movie which has been significantly tweaked since its initial screening at the Cannes film festival. This protest may actually have the opposite effect from what the group intends, drawing new attention to the release.

“The NFB needs to show they are doing something, and this is certainly something,” continued Temple. “It’s nothing more than a ploy to gain more exposure for their group. My guess is all that effort is just going to fall on deaf ears.”

Samantha Dryden, Entertainment Correspondent

NEWS > ENTERTAINMENT > NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND TO PROTEST BLINDNESS

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