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Intervento A.I.D.A.C. del 26 Giugno 2008 - Filippo Ottoni

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Intervento A.I.D.A.C. al Media Mundus Public Hearing – Bruxelles 25/06/2008


My name is Filippo Ottoni and I’m here to represent AIDAC – an acronym that stands for Associazione Italiana Dialoghisti Adattatori Cinetelevisivi. Our nearly 200 associates are professionals who translate and adapt for dubbing into Italian dialogue of foreign films, tv movies, tv serials and all other forms of audio-visual products. Because of my profession – but not exclusively because of that-  I am obviously very interested in a particular medium for international audio-visual diffusion : “dubbing”; that is “translation” applied to audio-visual products. But, so far, in this well-meaning Public Hearing the word “dubbing” has only been spoken once –and in a passing reference at that- by Aviva Silver, while the phrase “cultural difference” has been spoken, so far, about a hundred times. Now, if I were to speak Italian right now, few of you –if any- without the aid of a simultaneous translation would understand what I am saying, and thus my precious “cultural diversity” would be completely lost. In other words, without a sure way of opening up to a wider understanding the contents expressed by cultural diversities what would be the sense of protecting cultural diversities? Let me be clear about this: I am all in favour of “cultural diversities” and consider them extremely important in the face of the devastating cultural globalisation that is turning our world into a tasteless and colourless jam. And of course I also fully share the Media Mundus awareness of the globalisation paradox; namely that while it breaks down commercial, financial and technological barriers, globalisation creates – or re-creates -  an irrepressible need for individual cultural identity. As they are deprived of readily recognizable personal identity, individuals tend ever more to seek their specific identity in their cultural and territorial roots. This can give birth to authentic works of art, poetry, literature, plays and –of course- audio-visual products. But while it is generally accepted as downright obvious that poetry, literature and plays need to be translated in order to be appreciated in full and to reach the outside world and foreign audiences, a sort of “cultural suspicion” seems to be hanging over audio-visual products. “Subtitle them” – says our European Commission. It is like saying: “make a précis of War and Peace”, or of an Aeschylus play. Are readers or theatre audiences supposed to appreciate in full those works of art by merely being informed about the plot? Of course it would be great if the majority of people of the world learnt Russian, ancient Greek and all other minority languages of the planet, but meantime?…  Meantime the American film industry, being by far the dominant producing and distributing audio-visual industry in the world, makes sure that its films and tv-serials are regularly dubbed into almost all European languages so that they can be sold and reach the widest possible non-english-speaking markets in he world, in addition to the over one billion english-speaking audiences they can count on.

In the face of this, what chances do European audio-visual products stand?  And I would like to stress words like “industry”, “products”, “productions”, “markets” and such like, for it is about these that we are talking about.  Film and audio-visual productions worthy of this name, and with a minimum chance of being sold abroad and thus recoup their initial cost, can rarely be carried off with less than 4-5 million euros. The 2 million euros allotted to  Media Mundus are a sign of undoubted good will, but –as an ancient Italian proverb recites- “with good will alone one can only  pave the streets of hell.” It is very pleasant to come to Brussels to exchange ideas and news over an excellent buffet, but a waste of time and money if the ideas are the same old ones, resuscitated for the official occasion.

In our opinion if Europe really intends to compete with the present dominant audio-visual world industry and achieve a reasonably good world distribution for its films and other audio-visual products it must have its films and tv-series and everything else pertaining to audio-visuals dubbed into English. We suggest that part of those 2 million euros –and a good portion of other possible future allotments to Media Mundus- should be spent in creating schools for English-speaking dialogue writer-translators, dubbing directors and dubbing actors and to start dubbing our various products into the language that can count on the largest market in the world, a market up until now protected from foreign competitors by simply artfully spreading the word that dubbing is uncouth and that it spoils cultural diversity.




Filippo Ottoni




















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