n 2018, Accessible Cinema signed up for a project to provide an audio description for 10 Ukrainian films, which was financed by Ukrainian Cultural Fund. The list included older films like the 2008 romantic drama "Summer Love" and new hits such as the 2018 war drama "Donbas."
Luchka says that one of the most important parts is picking a person to narrate the description. "Their voice should match the tone of the film. It's very intuitive and depends on the emotion that a voice evokes," she said. The initiative usually invites professional narrators, including journalists, actors, and TV and radio hosts to read the descriptions.
According to Luchka, the best audio descriptions are made in cooperation with a film's creators, who can emphasize important visual details that may have been missed by audio description team.
Starusiova says that her introduction to the world of audio description was disappointing. After watching two films online with descriptions "for dummies," she never used the service again. However, her first audio description experience in cinema, when she watched the Ukrainian comedy "Dzidzio's First Time," was very different.
"It ruined my stereotypes about audio description," she said. "I was so inspired."
Starusiova says she loved the narrator's "pleasant" voice and the way the description was written. "Like when it said, 'he touched the place where she just kissed him," she said.
The film's audio description was created by Accessible Cinema. It was also the first film in Ukraine to receive a distribution license from the State Film Agency for audio descriptions in theatres. Before, descriptions were just added to the online after they had been distributed.
Although it was a big victory, the initiative soon realized there was another obstacle: most of the cinemas in Ukraine didn't have the necessary equipment, to play their descriptions, which is similar to the machines used for simultaneous translations.
That's when Accessible Cinema decided to take their work step further.
Many countries require filmmakers and theaters to provide audio descriptions with their films.
In the United States, for instance, all cinemas are legally required to offer audio descriptions to the visually impaired, and theatres provide headphones and a transmitter boxes. In Austria, all state-funded films have to be made with audio descriptions, and there is an application that synchronizes with the sound during screenings and plays descriptions between pauses in the film's audio.
Ukraine hasn't adopted any legislation in this regard, and Luchka believes that like Austria and the United States, all of Ukraine's state-financed films should be required to provide an audio descriptions to audiences.
"Those films that are funded by our taxes should be accessible to everyone," she said. "It should be the next logical step for the State Film Agency not only to support Ukrainian cinematography but also to support its accessibility."
For now, the initiative is fighting without support from the state. Along with international organizations, whose names they can't yet disclose, they developed their application for impaired audiences, which will offer both audio descriptions and adapted subtitles for download. The visitors will just need a pair of headphones and their own smartphone to use it.
The first film to be released through the app will be "Mr. Jones," a co-production of Poland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, which hits cinemas on Nov. 28. Based on the real-life events, the film tells the story of Gareth Jones, a journalist from Wales who discovered the artificial famine carried out by the Soviet authorities in Ukraine in 1933.
The Accessible Cinema initiative collaborated with "Mr. Jones" through their Ukrainian distributor, Film UA Group.
"They reacted very warmly," Luchka said. "It was important to them and they wanted to get involved."
This will be the first film screened in Ukraine that anyone with a smartphone will be able to watch with an audio description or adapted subtitles.
Luchka also emphasizes that accessible cinema shouldn't be separated from the mainstream movie-going experience. "We object arranging some separate segregated screenings where we bring all blind people." she said.
"We want people with visual or hearing impairment to be able to participate freely in the life of society and if they want to go to the cinema, they don't have to go to any special place, but watch any film at any cinema."