Release Date: 
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Michael Barber
National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
(515) 771-8348

Blind Group Condemns and Deploresthe Movie Blindness

Des Moines, Iowa (October 2, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI), Iowa's largest consumer group of blind people, today announced its vehement objection to the forthcoming Miramax film release Blindness and announced that its members would protest in front of the Carmike Wynnsong 16 Theater in Johnston on Friday evening, October 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Michael Barber, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, said:  "We condemn and deplore this movie because it perpetuates society’s fears and misconceptions of blindness in the worst possible manner in that blind people are shown as incompetent, helpless, vicious, and depraved, unable to carry out even the simplest tasks such as taking care of personal hygiene, finding their way to the bathroom, bathing, or even dressing themselves." 

The film is based on a novel by Portuguese author José Saramago, in which the inhabitants of an unnamed city suddenly go blind.  Fearing that the mysterious blindness is contagious, the government quarantines the blinded citizens in an abandoned asylum, where moral, social, and hygienic standards quickly deteriorate and the blind extort valuables, food, and sex from one another.  Only one woman, played in the film by Julianne Moore, remains able to see, feigning blindness to remain with her husband.  She is portrayed as physically, mentally, and morally superior to the others because she still has her sight.

Outside the makeshift prison, everyone has gone blind and the city has descended into total chaos; no government services or businesses are functioning and nomadic groups of mostly naked blind people wander through the streets, squatting in abandoned houses and shops for shelter and taking food where they can find it-including in rubbish heaps.  There is no electricity or running water, so the streets and buildings of the city are as filthy as the asylum was.  Dogs that people used to keep as pets have gone wild and roam in packs, feeding on refuse and human corpses.  The home of the doctor and his wife, however, is intact, and their group sets up residence there. The movie ends just as they regain their sight–as suddenly and mysteriously as they lost it.

"This movie is the most degrading and disgusting depiction of blindness," said Barber.  "The real truth is that blind people are not filthy, immoral, or helpless; we are normal, contributing members of society.  We are teachers, mechanics, employers, parents, and community leaders, the same as any successful sighted person. “

The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa is a statewide organization of blind and sighted individuals working to advance the general welfare of the blind of Iowa and the nation.  Under the motto, "We are changing what it means to be blind," the organization educates the public about the ability of persons who are blind to lead productive and self-sufficient lives and advocates for the rights of blind people.