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September 25, 2004

Local drive-in theatre first in the nation to offer captioned movies for the deaf

From: Fulton Valley News, NY - Sep 25, 2004

by Abby Jordan

Drive-in theater goers in Minetto may notice something different on the big screen this weekend. Movie showings today and tomorrow will feature English captions that will enable deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to understand the films.

"There is not a lot of opportunity for deaf or hard-of-hearing people to see movies," said Dan Farfaglia, a Fulton native who currently lives outside of Albany. "It's a win-win situation because people can hear the movie, but those who need to can read the captions."

Farfaglia, whose girl friend is deaf, approached Midway Drive In owner John Nagelschmidt about hosting an open-captioned double feature. Nagelschmidt, who was Farfaglia's high-school science teacher, was able to obtain two movies through Insight Cinema, an open-caption film distributer.

The Midway Drive In is the first drive-in theater in the country to host a screening of open captioned films. "We recently received official verification from Insight Cinema that this is definitely the first time that something like this is happening," said Farfaglia.

The event is expected to draw members of the deaf community from around central New York. "It also corresponds with Deaf Awareness Week," said Nagelschmidt. "This is a big thing for members of the deaf community."

Movie theaters in Rochester, Ithaca, and Albany show open captioned films, however, Nagelschmidt said they hope this event will encourage theaters in the Syracuse area to follow suit.

"This should do more to get open captioned movies in the theater," he said.

Farfaglia noted that there is a large deaf and hard of hearing community in the area that has no where to watch movies locally. "A good portion of people stay away from movies because open captions aren't available," he said.

Nagelschmidt cited the extra cost of showing an open captioned film as the reason why some theaters may choose not to show the movies. "Then you have to split the profits an extra way," he said.

Depending on the popularity of this weekend's event, Nagelschmidt may host open captioned features again. "If it goes over well we might make it an annual tradition," he said.

Farfaglia noted that many people have expressed excitement over this weekend's features. "It feels like Christmas for some people," he said. "A lot of people are excited about having a drive-in experience."

Movie showings begin tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.

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