Blind people can’t ‘watch’ movies, right? Wrong.
Many of us enjoy movies — we see different worlds come to life on a big screen, watch stories form through sound and visual effects. But what if you are blind?
For Irma Hikmayanti, watching movies was once a joy she indulged in at the cinema, or she would rent movies to watch at home. However, after suffering an accident as a child, she was diagnosed with glaucoma and eventually lost her vision.
Irma lost all joy in watching movies, until she came across Bioskop Bisik. Meaning “whispering cinema” in Bahasa Indonesia, Bioskop Bisik allows everyone to enjoy movies, even if they have vision problems — by pairing them with volunteers who describe whatever is happening in the movie to them.
“I felt like I wasn’t blind, because I enjoyed the movie very much, just like I had my vision again.” says Irma of her first time at Bioskop Bisik.
Bioskop Bisik was founded by Ramya Prajna, who wanted to create a space for people to interact with those who may be different from them, through a simple experience like watching a movie together. “The main objective is to give the experience of how our eyes are not just for us, but for others.” he says.
Being able to watch movies is a “change” for Cheta, a participant who has formed a friendship with her whisperer, Kenny. “She...describes the scenes very clearly for me, sometimes we go out of context and start giggling (during the movie),” she says.
Adds Kenny: “We’re just having fun.” She sees Bioskop Bisik as simply a club for those who love watching movies, whether they can see or not, and feels there should not be a segregation between those who can see, and those who can’t.
It is these conversations that Ramya hopes to spark by organising the screenings. The whispering cinema aims to break barriers on both sides — for volunteers to understand the needs of the blind better, while the blind can go about their lives with more confidence, knowing there are people out there who care, genuinely.