The reviews about the new documentary film by Ron Howard spotlighting the life of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti have been mostly glowing raves. That is encouraging news to someone like Michele Spitz who narrated and co-produced the film’s audio description. The film “Pavarotti’ opened this past June 7 in San Francisco at the Kabuki.
“I love opera, she told this reporter and… I’m a big fan of Pavarotti’s beautiful work.” For her the ability to make a visual presentation accessible to the blind is of the utmost importance. Yes, the visually impaired can share in the music of Pavarotti, obviously. But when attending the film, they can’t experience the visual aspects put up there on the screen by Howard and others about Pavarotti’s life.
Audio description is a visual description of key elements, (in any film) essentially painting a picture with words that is essentially what Spitz does. When Howard’s 1-hour and 44 minute documentary features dozens of photographs and rarely seen clips of the sensational tenor’s life, Spitz’ audio description allows the visually impaired to understand what is on screen.
Yet for her this work is on a much deeper level. As founder and CEO of Woman Of Her Word, Spitz is more than following a calling she is driven. She is dedicated to making world-class performances and cultural events accessible to people with disabilities, seniors, veterans as well as members of under-served communities.
Even with her tremendous generosity and amiable personality, Spitz is taken aback when people in the know (especially media people like directors, producers, casting, editing crews, etc.) are lacking in some basics. She noted recently to the non-profit RespectAbility in its June newsletter. “As of 2018, the law requires movie theaters to provide closed captioning and audio description viewing equipment available for patrons who are hard of hearing or deaf and who are low vision or blind.”
Just to get a sense of the impact visual disabilities have on the population, the World Health Organization estimates that at least 1.3 billion across the globe have some form of vision impairment.
Art in all forms is for everyone and Spitz believes this without question and importantly she lives it through the work she does. Not only by donating her time but even her own funds often go into a voice-narration, description project for a film.
She has focused her work on making great independent and documentary films accessible, and has voiced more than 56 films. ‘Pavarotti’ is her second Howard documentary. Her work has been part of some of the most compelling documentaries in recent years; including Itzhak, How Sweet the Sound – The Blind Boys of Alabama; CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion; The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years; and Miss You Already. Spitz has also provided and designated in-kind post-production audio description grants for 80 percent of the films she has worked on.
The fact that as an international sensation, Pavarotti was one of the most popular opera singers ever this is not lost on Spitz. Her audio-description work further compliments the film. But it also makes a more subtle and profound statement. “Audio description is one more step toward full inclusivity in media and entertainment,” said Spitz.
She went on to say… “this film will expose more people to opera and beautifully bring them together. Pavarotti would have likely been thrilled to know that one day this documentary profiling his life was going to reach additional audiences of low-vision and blind fans all over the world.” Adding to that, if we take into account the World Health Organization’s estimate of 1.3 billion people having some form of visual impairment, then that truly is a very large audience on a global scale.
Wherever her voice is heard, as advocate and philanthropist Spitz is dedicated to making the world accessible to all community by offering her talents to filmmakers, publishers, speaking venues and charitable organizations.
Ron Howard’s documentary “Pavarotti’ is now playing at the AMC Kabuki and will continue there until at least the end of next week. For details and show times visit the AMC Kabuki website.
Spitz will be participating in a Question & Answer session about the audio description following a screening at the Rialto Theater in Elmwood on June 23, 2019 at 2:00 PM, as well as at the Rialto Theater in Sebastopol on June 30, 2019 at 2:20 PM.
And, to learn more about professional voice-over and descriptive audio services artist Michele Spitz visit Woman Of Her Word web site.