Sundance Film Festival jurors Marlee Matlin, Jeremy O Harris and Eliza Hittman walked out of the world premiere of Magazine Dreams in Park City, Utah after the closed captioning device for Marlee, who is deaf, malfunctioned on Friday night. The boxing drama, starring Jonathan Majors, was shown in part of the US Dramatic Competition of the festival. The device was fixed a few hours later and the festival reported that the jurors will screen the film again before it ends on January 29. (Also read: Magazine Dreams review: Elijah Bynum’s powerful character study is a volcanic mix of Travis Bickle and Jake LaMotta)
Directed by Elijah Bynum, Magazine Dreams revolves around Jonathan’s character, a Black bodybuilder with self-destructive qualities. The actor has already received raves for his performance and commitment to the role.
In a statement shared with The Associated Press, Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente said on Saturday, “Our team immediately worked with the devices in that venue to test them again for the next screening and the device worked without any malfunction. Our goal is to make all experiences (in person and online) as accessible as possible for all participants. Our accessibility efforts are, admittedly, always evolving and feedback helps drive it forward for the community as a whole.”
“We are committed to improving experiences & belonging for all festival attendees,” the statement continued. “We consider accessibility as one of the primary drivers of institutional excellence and this work is done in partnership with film teams.”
Joana shared that captioning device, which works on Wi-Fi, had been tested prior to the screening, but malfunctioned during the screening nonetheless. The movie will be screened again for the jurors before the festival ends.
Marlee, who lost her hearing as a toddler, has not yet commented on the incident. She won the Oscar for Best Actress for her acting debut in Children of a Lesser God (1986). She also starred in last year’s coming-of-age drama CODA which also won the Best Picture Oscar.
The Hindustan Times review of Magazine Dreams stated, “Bynum, who also wrote Magazine Dreams, conjures up an excruciatingly intense character study that is almost unbearably hard to watch at times. More than the violence, its the anticipation of it that powers the narrative, as Maddox’s obsession takes a full swing over him. The last 20 minutes in specific become agonizing to sit through – as Bynum dares the audience to leave his side. It all works because of Jonathan Majors, who gives the performance of a lifetime as Killian Maddox.”