Film a disappointment to hearing impaired

TOKYO — The lack of Japanese-language subtitles in prints of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Babel” has earned the wrath of the hearing-impaired in Japan.

The multicultural pic’s Japanese section centers on the struggles of a hearing-impaired girl, played by Rinko Kikuchi, to communicate. Several hearing-impaired actors appeared in the pic, though Kikuchi has normal hearing.

According to reports, nearly 500 hearing-impaired people participating in the film were invited to a preview screening in January in Tokyo but left disappointed that the Japanese-language scenes were not subtitled, making it hard for them to follow the story.

Ruruka Minami, a sign-language translator involved in casting of “Babel,” is leading a petition to persuade the distrib, Gaga Communications, to offer subtitled prints for the pic’s April 28 release. the petition had 15,000 signatures as of the end of February. Minami has also met with Gaga reps to press the case.  

 A Gaga spokesman says the distrib is considering the request but has not yet decided how many prints to subtitle, adding that “resubtitling all the prints would be impossible.”

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