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Entertainment - September 1, 2021

‘Talking movies’: The Chinese cinema bringing film to blind audiences

‘Talking movies’: The Chinese cinema bringing film to blind audiences

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Every Saturday, Zhang Xinsheng travels two hours for a movie date with friends, navigating Beijing’s confusing subway system with his white cane and a speaking map that screams directions on his mobile phone.

Zhang lost his sight in his early twenties due to a degenerative condition, but since going blind has discovered a love for cinema at the “talking film” club, where volunteers give vivid narrations to an auditorium of blind or partially sighted cinemagoers.

“After I listened to a film for the first time in 2014, it felt like a (new) world had opened up for me,” he said.

“I felt I could understand the film despite my blindness. There were clear images forming in my mind’s eye… as (the narrator) described the scenes… of laughter, the crying.”

Now 51, he makes the weekly pilgrimage to a theatre in Qianmen, in the heart of old Beijing, without fail.

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