Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 12:01 UK

Blind activists plan film protest

Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo star in the film.

The National Federation of the Blind in the US has announced that it plans to protest at cinemas across the country over the film Blindness.

Based on the novel by Jose Saramago, the film focuses on a town hit by a sudden epidemic of sight loss resulting in a collapse of social order.

"The movie portrays blind people as monsters and I believe it to be a lie," said Marc Maurer, president of the NFB.

Miramax Films said it was "saddened" to learn of the protests.

The NFB plans to protest against the film at 75 cinemas in at least 21 US states when it is released on 3 October.

It stars Julianne Moore as the wife of an eye doctor who loses his sight and then feigns blindness to stay with him after he is put in government quarantine.

'Substantial harm'

"The NFB condemns and deplores this film, which will do substantial harm to the blind of America and the world," Mr Maurer said.

"Blind people in this film are portrayed as incompetent, filthy, vicious, and depraved. They are unable to do even the simplest things like dressing, bathing, and finding the bathroom.

"The truth is that blind people regularly do all of the same things that sighted people do."

Saramago's 1995 book was praised for its use of blindness as a metaphor for the lack of clear communication and respect for human dignity in modern society.

Miramax said in a statement that filmmaker Fernando Meirelles "worked diligently to preserve the intent and resonance of the acclaimed book, that is a courageous parable about the triumph of the human spirit when civilisation breaks down".

Maurer said it would be the largest protest in the 68-year history of the NFB, which has 50,000 members and works to improve blind people's lives through advocacy, education and encouraging independence and self confidence.

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