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on audiovisual translation, subtitling, and the French & American film industries

Cannes 2009: Not (quite) the end of the world as we know it

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

I wish I were posting this from a sunny café table (or better yet a yacht) on or near the beach, but instead am in a sundrenched apartment on the Upper West Side.  Last year, Cannes was almost an augury of the financial tsunami to come–at least as far a wave of mostly disappointing films.

Being a translator at a film festival is a bit like being a bookkeeper at a corporate annual meeting:  generally, people understand what you do and why you’re there, and some might have some use for you, but “not right now” is more often than not their response.  Especially when they’re desparately trying to justify their own presence there by showing their bosses/investors/partners they can bring home . . . something.

This year, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, predictions of doom and gloom haven’t seemed to entirely been bourne out.  While there hasn’t been a surge of activity (“Hollywood Reporter”  refered to it as cherry picking), business is going forward as last year’s indie distributor shakedown coupled with the financial credit freeze is adding up to a new Darwinian math amongst the existing players, according to “Variety”.

What does all this mean for audiovisual translation?  One Cannes-related item I found mentions Fox remaking some titles from its library (“Working Girl” and “Man on Fire”) in Russia for the local market there.  So instead of exporting local stuff (hawking their wares annually through the market circuit from Sundance through Toronto), perhaps (in the way of globalization) we’ll see more remakes of foreign titles . . . globally (even in the US?), tailored to individual markets?  Meaning (to attempt to answer my own question), that professional translators will be just as vital if not more so, to have the original script to work off of for whomever is re-making it. InshAllah . . .

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Filed under: audiovisual translation, French film industry, US film industry, , , ,

5 minutes with Jerry Rudes of LVT

Jerry Rudes heads the French subtitling company LVT‘s New York operation, which French-subtitled a number of films for this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock”, playing in competition.  He also founded and ran the Avignon Film Festival for over two decades, which also had a New York counterpart for a number of years as well.

I’m honored and delighted Jerry took some time out of a very hectic schedule last week getting ready for Cannes.  He’s a wonderful starting point for this virtual conversation on translation and film. Hopefully the video speaks for itself–it’s my first!

One question I didn’t ask him, was why Americans have such a hard time with foreign films, when many other cultures than ours put up (with reading) or “shut up” (watching the orignal English or having US films dubbed).  I for one hope, after the fall elections, the more the US begins to open up to the world, the more we let the world in.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, French film industry, subtitling, US film industry, , , , ,