"The Ultimate Gift" Premieres for Blind and Visually Impaired Community in NYC

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Jim Stovall, the author of the best-selling novel, “The Ultimate Gift,” will offer a showing of the movie based on his book at the famed Empire Theatre in New York City for an audience of blind and visually impaired persons on March 6.

It’s a rare and truly fantastic occasion for all of us.

On March 6, one of the nation’s best-known champions for the visually impaired, Jim Stovall, will be in New York City to partner with organizations that aid the blind in presenting a first-ever event for this unique audience.

Stovall, the author of the best-selling novel, “The Ultimate Gift,” will offer a showing of the movie based on his book at the famed Empire Theatre in New York City for an audience of blind and visually impaired persons in that vicinity. The event is being called the Narrative Premier of “The Ultimate Gift” and, according to Stovall, is the first time this audience has been invited to view a movie prior to its release to the general public, which is slated for March 9.

For this event, the movie will feature a narrative tract designed to run without interrupting the original dialogue or sound effects by inserting description only where there is a pause in audio. Minimal description is inserted so as to be helpful without distracting the audience from the flow of the program. This feature, currently available for scores of television and movie presentations, was introduced by Narrative Television Network, which was co-founded by Stovall. The American Life Channel (cable), a long-time supporter of “accessibility” for the blind, is partnering with Stovall in promoting the event.

Also at the center of activity around this event are a number of key organizations: the American Foundation for the Blind; Lighthouse; the American Council for the Blind; the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People at Baruch College (Cuny); and VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. As NYC’s only community center specifically for the blind and visually impaired, VISIONS is getting word out to the 3500, mostly lower income, people it serves. “Our folks couldn’t be more excited about attending a screening and the opportunity to dialogue ‘face to face’ with other people about ways to make life more meaningful,” says VISIONS Executive Director Nancy Miller. “It’s a rare and truly fantastic occasion for all of us.”

Stovall has been actively involved in many of the decidedly “novel” events surrounding the pre-release of “The Ultimate Gift” starring Oscar-nominee 10-year old Abigail Breslin together with veterans of the stage and screen James Garner, Lee Meriwether, Brian Dennehy and rising star Drew Fuller.

The film tells the story of a young man, Jason, (Drew Fuller) who stand to inherit an unimaginable fortune if only he agrees to accept 12 tasks – or “gifts” – from his recently deceased grandfather (Garner). The challenge results in a journey of discovery in which Jason receives a crash course on life that reveals the relationship between wealth and happiness.

The movie has spawned a movement, of sorts, that encourages discussion around a number of life values, with an emphasis on the “gift” of giving. The movie is making headlines across the country with its screenings to benefit charitable organizations, with a reported $25 million in donations to efforts ranging from literacy and youth initiatives to the building of hospitals. The $10-million independent film was underwritten by the Stanford Financial Group, a Houston-based wealth management company, and has drawn nods of approval from such well-respected persons as Steve Forbes, Paul Harvey and Robert Schuller.

As to why this movie and why this audience, Stovall is clear: “As a blind person myself, it was imperative that I include those like me in this movie and this message. The ability to enjoy and discuss a first run movie with others is a real cultural thing. The inability to do that brings further separation between the visually impaired and others. This was an ideal opportunity to invite the constituency we’ve built through narrative TV to be part of this nationwide movement.”

About the Movie

The nationwide release of the movie, “The Ultimate Gift” will be marked by a premiere event at Phillips Place Cinema in Charlotte on March 7. The film was produced by Rick Eldridge, President of Charlotte’s Film Foundry and is the first of a steady stream of films coming out the of the recently announced Independent Producers Alliance (IPA). Headquartered at the Film Foundry, IPA is an effort to help filmmakers fund and distribute their products in the most efficient and effective manner, according to Eldridge. “The Ultimate Gift” is one of four IPA films expected out this year.

About the Narrative Television Network (http://www.narrativetv.com/)

Since 1988, NTN has been a leader in making television programming and movies accessible to our nation's 13 million blind and visually impaired people and their families. NTN uses a technique in which the voice of a narrator is added to the existing programming sound track without interfering with any of the original audio or video. Over the years, NTN has received top honors from the American Council of the Blind, as well as the American Foundation for the Blind, for its pioneering work. Currently NTN provides accessible programming for a number of broadcast and cable networks.


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Chuck Robbins
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