Say What?


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

Sidebar: Personal recommendation

You’ll know by now that I’m a sucker for romance (with consequences), and my latest recommendation is no exception.  Eyes Wide Open was actually an official Cannes selection from Israel last year, and got a very strong review in the Times, yet despite all this I only heard about the film through an acquaintance.  And this, over a month after the film was released here in New York.

Subtlety is the name of both the games the characters play, and the art and skill employed therein by all involved with the film.  Except the subtitles, which though I can’t critique their accuracy as my Hebrew is long out of practice, but the timing on a good 25 – 30% of them is either early or late, especially toward the end of the film.  But do not let that dissuade you from going.

The film is powerful enough, both in its imagery and emotion to triumph over minor linguistic lapses.  And though I want to rail against the ongoing censorship of gay male romantic imagery as I did earlier, but this film is strong enough to speak for itself.  Shalom.


Filed under: audiovisual translation, divers, subtitling, , ,

Dear World, remember me?

What loads of work will do for one translator!  Julie Powell-like (boo-hoo), I wonder is anyone reading this anyway, but have missed plugging into the blogosphere (so I guess that means I like it).

In the midst of my brisk autumn, I happened to catch sight of this dissertation that somehow made its way on to the ATA‘s monthly news roundup.  I can barely make heads or tails of it, but it’s pretty interesting (from a purely academic POV, and even then Swedish language skills would probably help) to see how small words and phrases generally end up in the trash, even as multi-lingual viewers get tripped up from not actually seeing what they hear, but no one else notices.

Otherwise, on the subject of rabbit holes, recently making my way out of mine, I “discovered” The Da Vinci Code (the film, not the phenom), and was pleasantly shocked to see a bilingual Hollywood film?  Incroyable, but true!  Looking to see Angels and Demons soon enough to see how much if at all la bella lingua turns up in that.  Meanwhile, dear readers, stay tuned for a posting-packed end of year, as I try to fold in at least a month’s worth into ten days.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, subtitling, translation, Uncategorized, , , ,

Beginning of the end . . . or visa versa?

"It's Always Darkest . . . " by Judy Chicago

"It's Always Darkest . . . " by Judy Chicago

VOD is rapidly getting more attention, if for no other reason that films don’t seem to be catching distributor attention, or rather distributors.  The news from Toronto was dreary, both inside and outside screening rooms.

I heard an old friend/colleague say this recently, which could mean it’s now a mantra, but producers and filmmakers who complain about “too many movies” seem to me more like desperate reality TV participants than sober business people, essentially opting for a “women & children first” policy for the film business.  Why not let go of the sinking old model, and let in what could be a warm sea and rising tide of new opportunities?

Filed under: subtitling, US film industry, VOD,

Five minutes with Noah Harlan of 2.1 Films

I first met Noah, co-founder and producer of 2.1 Films, over a year ago at an orientation for IFP/NY members participating in the Cannes Film Festival and Market.  I’m delighted he sat down with me to talk shop, and was very happy to learn he is such a conscientous filmmaker regarding audiovisual translation.  He also has some terrific things to say about script translation, and the future of distribution (as the New York Times recently mentioned as well).

One thing he mentioned that didn’t make the final cut:  Truffaut’s 400 Blows, and the translation of the title.  Noah considers it a mistranslation into English, but I’m not so sure, especially in context of its time.  Doubtlessly a UK translator did it, but it probably resonated with Americans of that time, and Britishisms aside, I think tampering with a classic is a tall order at the very least.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, subtitling, 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, , , , ,


I’m a French<>English audiovisual translator, and am authoring this blog on audiovisual translation, subtitling, and the French & American film industries.

To start off with, I’m fascinated by the very idea of subtitles in film themselves–antithetical to the very nature of the medium.  In this red, hot, bright moment of change, in everything and the business and craft of film, I wonder about how much longer we’ll be seeing/reading/using them.  As a translation professional, I’ve often wondered about the process of making subtitles, and plan several posts in the future to show how the professionals do it (in part, because I’d like to do it myself).

I also, more for other translators and industry professionals, want to explore the translation interaction between filmmakers and translators, for TV and film scripts, and into the subtitling process.  Lastly, because it’s my business, I’ll be picking out news from out west (Hollywood) or east (France) that seems worth commenting on.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, subtitling, , , ,