Spanish subtitle rebellion

Entering Cine Gaumont was a bit smoother than I expected, so I knew that somehow I was late for the event, otherwise there would be a long line to get inside the cinema. It was a file festival organised by Irish embassy. I was told that there would be a debate about creativity in filmmaking process, which I expected to be productive for my writing, but when I arrived to the cinema, I realised that it wasn’t about a debate but a film. Maybe a debate was planned after the film so that the director of the movie could share her vision with the audience.

It was three pesos for the entrance. The movie already had started so I had to get in from the back door since the projection was running. The movie started. It was somewhat called one million Dubliners, and the scene started as a tourist guide explain the history of a cemetery that is located in Dublin. When the camera closed up the guide’s face, everyone clapped their hand for a long time. I thought that guide is a quite famous figure and maybe people here in this cinema are mostly Irish. I was just amazed how expressive people are for a figure that they had known before coming to Buenos Aires.

I was just naïve. The clapping went on and on, and it became a bit weird. I was starting to doubt the education level of people, for it was just a nonsense that people kept clapping when a movie was on. Then I realised that they weren’t clapping for something good, but it was about to annoy the theatre since the movie came without Spanish subtitle. Lights were back on, and people started to stand up to walk around to ask any theatre staff about the subtitle. I even didn’t notice that there were no subtitle, then I could imagine how suffocating the movie would be for the old Argentine people who don’t speak English.

Eventually the movie for the next day of Irish Film Festival was projected since the planned one had a technical problem with subtitle. So shortly I could see two different movies from Ireland; and interestingly both of them treated about Irish independence from the United Kingdom, reproducing the national pride and sovereignty backed up by a historial context. Those documentary-like films, yes, are a propaganda media to educate population. Another example of an Irish film that I know that isn’t about its historical context is ONCE, a quite romantic movie with melancholic and nostalgic song lyrics. This movie was also programmed to be projected on one of the festival dates.

Anyway, people clapping all together to demand a solution for a Spanish subtitle made me think some points: the original context is in English, and if so, shouldn’t be the recipients who supposed to know how to deal with such language? English became an international code for common communication. Most of the audience at the theatre were the aged people who might have had enough opportunities to learn English, I thought, until I got criticised that even in this very era it isn’t easy to learn English. Even though we are living in more globalised world where English is a common protocol, actually having a English tongue still remains as a cultural capital which can convert to economic capital when wanted.

But then, we just can’t blame for those people who don’t know how to speak English, since it’s not their mother tongue nor it is fair for them to learn such language to enjoy different art context around the world. Surely it can be an asset if one does, but still the opportunity should be spread out. At the same time, this is the source of the job opportunities for translators and interpreters. The subtitle problem was no one’s fault as shits happen time to time, but I was amazed somehow by that collective action of clapping that led to cease the movie projection and to substitute to another film with a Spanish subtitle.

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