Trans­la­tion woes plague Chi­nese films abroad

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - ByWANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Chi­nese film and TV industry wants bet­ter “for­eign voices” on over­seas screens.

Trans­la­tion is still a prob­lem, though. At least, that is the con­sen­sus of a re­cent sym­po­sium co-or­ga­nized by the Min­istry of Cul­ture and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion.

Dur­ing a 10-day Sino-For­eign Au­dio­vi­su­alTrans­la­tion and Dub­bing Co­op­er­a­tion Work­shop and Sym­po­sium in both Bei­jing and Shang­hai, which ended on Wed­nes­day, nearly 60 film­mak­ers, trans­la­tors and film com­pany man­agers from 30 coun­tries shared their in­sights on how to bet­ter pro­mote Chi­nese pro­duc­tions in theirhome­coun­tries with more ap­proach­able chan­nels for au­di­ences.

Nus­sipzhanov Yer­tay, a sym­po­sium at­tendee and a ma­jor pro­moter of Chi­nese films and TV se­ries in Kaza­khstan, says he watched last year’s pop­u­lar 48-epo­side spy thriller The Dis­guiser within five days.

“I was look­ing for some­one to trans­late it into Kazakh, but it has to be some­one savvy in his­tory with a wide in­ter­na­tional hori­zon rather than some­one who does only di­rect trans­la­tion,” he says.

“WhenI went to a film stu­dio in Bei­jing, I was shown some clips of Chi­nese films, which are dubbed in Rus­sian,” Yer­tay re­calls.

“Frankly speak­ing, I don’t quite un­der­stand some parts.

“The qual­ity of dub­bing and trans­la­tion needs to be im­proved. A good work shouldn’t be dragged back by dub­bing.” This is not a sin­gu­lar case. Michael Sin­terniklaas, founder of NYAV Post, a New York-based record­ing stu­dio, says Chi­nese and English trans­la­tions in cinema can be bet­ter.

“When you spend so much money to shoot a film, it is equally im­por­tant to spend money on dub­bing for over­seas pro­mo­tion,” he says.

“In the past, we’ve seen that China is a place full of tech­nol­ogy and cul­tural cre­ativ­ity, but the ef­fi­ciency of our co­op­er­a­tion can be im­proved.”

NYAV Post’s most re­cent pro­ject has been to dub for last year’sChi­nese hit an­i­ma­tion Mon­key King: Hero Is Back, which soon will be screened in the United States.

Deanna Gao, founder of the China Film Fes­ti­val in Paris, says: “In most cases, dub­bing is re­placed by sub­ti­tles to save money and time. But sub­ti­tles are dif­fi­cult to read for many peo­ple, like chil­dren.”

Nev­er­the­less, in China, dubbed for­eign films have be­come rarer in cin­e­mas, and that may par­tially ex­plain why Chi­nese films rely more on sub­ti­tles than dub­bing when they are ex­ported.

Mean­while, a re­port re­leased by Bei­jing Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity in March shows 70 per­cent of over­seas film­go­ers are un­sat­is­fied with sub­ti­tles in Chi­nese films.

Gong Lan­wei, pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Chi­nese Film Fes­ti­val, says that ticket hold­ers for award­win­ningChi­nese films some­times leave the cinema be­fore the end due to poor trans­la­tion of sub­ti­tles.

Vet­eran Chi­nese film pro­ducer Yue Xiaomei says mak­ing a dubbed ver­sion is like re-cre­at­ing a film, and thus de­mands more at­ten­tion.

“We don’t en­cour­age for­eign­ers to trans­late Chi­nese films. It’s dif­fi­cult for them to cap­ture some cul­tural mean­ings,” says Zhang Sh­u­fang, pres­i­dent of China Broad­cast­ingMe­dia.

“How­ever, the dubbed voice must come from a na­tive speaker of for­eign lan­guages and the post­pro­duc­tion needs to be com­pleted in their home coun­tries.”

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