Offbeat Video

By Nelson Groom 


These touching photographs give a view inside the world’s first ‘whisper cinema’ – where blind people get the movie experience by having it described to them by their friends.

The Whisper Cinema in central Jakarta, Indonesia, offers the big screen experience to the visually-impaired by pairing blind movie-goers with volunteers who describe the scenes of the film, allowing them to bridge the visual gulf of going to the movies.

PIC FROM Eko Siswono Toyudho / Caters New

And while most movie audiences are expected to keep quiet, conversation between the commentators and their buddies and flow freely in the Central Jakarta cinema.

Images from a screening last month screening show 11 visually-impaired viewers beaming from ear to ear watching a local film with the aid of 15 volunteers.

Photographer Eko Siswono Toyudho, who captured the experience, said he believes the visually impaired viewers have heightened senses that helped the process.

Eko, 37, said: “They can’t see, but their senses of hearing and feelings are very sensitive. With the help of volunteers they can follow the plot closely.

PIC FROM Eko Siswono Toyudho / Caters News

“The atmosphere is very different to your normal cinema, the sound of whispers are regular throughout.

“Although it’s unusual, the blind people clearly enjoy the program. Their facial expressions illustrate that they are closely following.

“They break into smiles and laughter when the scenes are happy and frown when the scene is sad.”

The event was dreamed up by Ms Cici Suciati, who opened the cinema’s doors in January 2015 after hearing the local blind community wanted a way to go to the movies.

Ms Suciati screens the mostly local films at a small, intimate cinema in the Indonesian capital, before enlisting the help of volunteers on social media.

Nia Samantha, the cinema’s 28-year-old manager, said she hopes this program will help to cross the barriers between the visually-impaired community and mainstream society.