16.02.2017 – Ian BurleyMarie DumoraAndrea KirchhartzRebekah SmithBeatrice von Moreau, moderated by Natascha Noack

When film dialogue is professionally translated through subtitling, the viewer forgets the process of reading. As a form of literary translation, subtitling is a highly skilled technical craft and at the same time an art form. How is cultural specificity and semantic nuance transported through subtitles, and what are the limitations therein? What alternatives to classic subtitles exist? Does live voice-over present other possibilities, as it is practiced e.g. in the Berlinale’s Generation section? These and further questions are raised by experts taking Marie Dumora’s Belinda (Panorama) as a practical case study and demonstrating a live voice-over.


Ian Burley

photo of Ian Burley

After a post-graduate course in subtitling, Ian Burley began work as a subtitler and script translator for the French, Belgian and Italian film industries and has collaborated regularly with such renowned directors as Alain Resnais, the Dardenne brothers, Robert Guédiguian, Nicolas Philibert, Bertrand Bonello and Bruno Dumont. He holds degrees from the University of Swansea, Université de Bretagne Occidentale and Université de Lille III.

Marie Dumora

photo of Marie Dumora

French director Marie Dumora has completed nine films, all of which she has filmed by herself. They were all are shot within just a few kilometres of each other in Eastern France, thus creating a cinematic terrain where one film leads to the next. Her films have won awards at various festivals, including Best Documentary at FID Marseille and the Heritage Award at Cinéma du Réel. Her film BELINDA will open the Panorama Dokumente section at the 2017 Berlinale.

Andrea Kirchhartz

photo of Andrea Kirchhartz

Andrea Kirchhartz studied Theatre, Film and Television Studies in Cologne and Paris and has worked as a freelance film translator for subtitling, voice-overs and dubbing since 1999. She translates screenplays and texts in the field of Film Studies and is an interpreter at festivals. She is a member of the subtitlers’ association Untertitelforum – AVÜ.

Rebekah Smith

photo of Rebekah Smith

Rebekah Smith studied German and French at Goldsmiths College, University of London before training as a subtitler and translator in Berlin. Over the last ten years, she has subtitled and translated numerous documentary and feature films, voice-over scripts and screenplays. She is a member of the subtitlers’ association Untertitelforum – AVÜ and the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ).

Beatrice von Moreau

photo of Beatrice von Moreau

Beatrice von Moreau is a German actress. After studying at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, she primarily worked in theatre. Since 2003 she has also written for the stage. At the same time she began producing and distributing her own films. She co-produced the indie films BABA and HIRSCHEN, which screened in cinemas in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and are now available on Netflix. Since 2004 she has worked for the Generation section at the Berlinale as a live voice-over speaker and translator.


Natascha Noack

photo of Natascha Noack

Natascha Noack works at the intersection of language, film, music and movement. She is a dancer and choreographer, translates films and film theory, appears as a voice-over artist and is a member of the selection committee of the Generation section of the International Film Festival Berlin.

Normandie. Ses traductions aident le cinéma à s’exporter

Sionann O’Neill avec Alain Guiraudie au festival de Cannes. Elle est interprète pour le réalisateur de « Rester vertical », en sélection officielle.Sionann O’Neill avec Alain Guiraudie au festival de Cannes. Elle est interprète pour le réalisateur de « Rester vertical », en sélection officielle. | Flo Alex

Par Ouest-France

Sionann O’Neill, Américaine installée en Normandie, est traductrice adaptatrice de sous-titres, du français vers l’anglais.


« Je vis en France depuis vingt-huit ans. J’étais venue me promener en Europe et je suis restée. » Elle s’installe à Paris et s’inscrit à la Sorbonne. « J’ai fait des études de cinéma. »

Elle obtient une maîtrise et s’oriente vers le sous-titrage : « J’aime la langue, j’aime écrire, j’aime le cinéma. » Sionann O’Neill commence par traduire le film d’un camarade de fac : Pascal-Alex Vincent. « Il m’a impliqué dans un court-métrage sélectionné dans un festival, à Mamers, dans la Sarthe. François Ozon était aussi là. Il sortait de la fameuse école de cinéma la Femis. On a fait la fête en semble. Ça crée des liens. »

C’est le début d’une belle collaboration avec le réalisateur de Huit Femmes« Il avait besoin de quelqu’un pour traduire ses films. J’ai commencé avec ses courts-métrages, puis tous ses long-métrages. »

L’intégralité de l’article dans l’édition Ouest-France du samedi 21 mai 2016, et en édition numérique.

Crédit photo : Flo Alex

ASIF at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival of Short Films

2048x1536-fit_illustrateur-strasbourgeois-blutch-signe-affiche-38e-festival-international-court-metrage-clermont-ferrand-5-13-fevrier-2016-1024x665ASIF at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

ASIF was represented at the Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand and at the SPI* lunch which brought together producers, broadcasters and Unifrance representatives. After this initial contact, ASIF – together with our umbrella organization ATAA (Association des Traducteurs et Adaptateurs de l’Audiovisuel) – intend to meet the heads of SPI and Unifrance in Paris to consider possible ways of collaborating and raising awareness on the importance of our profession and good practices which facilitate professional translations/adaptations.
ATAA worked with the company MEDIA SOLUTION to offer the winner of the ‘Grand Prix’ (“Les Amours Vertes” by Marine Atlan) professional subtitles in four European languages. The aim is to publicize the level of technical expertise and quality adaptations in France. Thanks to its international audience, Clermont-Ferrand Festival is the ideal place to raise directors’ and producers’ awareness in the long term about how crucial it is to have high-quality subtitles.

* Independent Producers Union (Syndicat des Producteurs Indépendants – video, TV, cinema

Open letter from UNTERTITELFORUM & ATVE to the European Commission

Open letter on the EU Commission’s “initiative to crowdsource subtitling to increase the circulation of European works”

As professional subtitlers, we would like to voice our concerns about this initiative. In your summary, you mention the high costs involved in subtitling of between 600 and 1,000 euros per film. This is a rough and fairly low estimate. Even with the kind of time-saving professional software most subtitlers use, subtitling a feature film can take anything from four to ten days, depending on the length of the film and the complexity of the dialogue. As it is, professional subtitlers often earn hourly rates that are below the minimum wage, even though most are university-educated, experienced language practitioners. Financial pressure has been mounting for years. As a result, the rates for subtitling have dropped to a level that has often become unsustainable, forcing many to leave the profession altogether. In view of this, you may imagine our consternation when reading about your well-meaning initiative. Your aim is to increase the supply and the visibility of European audiovisual works online and increase their proportion in catalogues of VOD services available in the EU”. To make this possible, you would like to find ways to subtitle the films completely free of charge. We would like you to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you really want to outsource the business of subtitling to amateurs or machines? Condensing the film dialogue to make it readable while retaining all of the essential information, the language register and allusions to previous dialogue or future sequences within the film is not an easy task. Subtitlers need to have a feeling for the audio-visual medium as well as for the languages involved. They must have training, experience, technical understanding and the will to rewrite a subtitle as often as is necessary to convey the message and ensure that it can be easily read in the time available. As far as machines are concerned, they are still barely able to translate standardised texts let alone spoken language, which lives from colloquialisms, word play and many other features that a machine cannot grasp.
  2. How do you plan to prevent copyright infringement if one or possibly even several amateur translators are subtitling a film?
  3. What kind of workflow do you envisage? Do you plan to contract expensive editors to revise translations that have been produced quickly and by amateurs? Any professional translator will tell you that it takes longer to correct a bad translation than to translate the text from scratch.
  4. Are you suggesting that professional filmmakers and screenwriters place the fruit of years of hard work into the hands of people who could, potentially, ruin the reputation of their film overnight for the sake of a few hundred euros? Contrary to general public perception, subtitling is NOT just a translation of the text. Bad subtitling can make a mockery of a film or even render it unintelligible if dialogue is poorly translated or the translations too long for the time available, meaning that the audience are not able to follow the plot. Subtitles created through crowdsourcing projects are teeming with these kinds of errors.

If the EU is serious about wanting to provide a larger range of smaller films to a wider audience, then trying to find ever-cheaper solutions for subtitling is not the solution. No filmmaker would dream of appointing their neighbour as DOP just because they had purchased a video camera. Instead, the EU commission should try and make subtitling a standard part of the post-production process and ensure that the professionals involved receive fair rates of pay. As long as the translation of film dialogue is perceived as an inconvenient afterthought that is not accounted for in the film’s budget, subtitling will never receive the recognition it deserves. Crowdsourcing subtitling can only damage a film’s international reputation. Everyone is a loser in this scenario: decent subtitles do not come for free!

The members of Untertitelforum
The members of AVTE, AudioVisual Translators Europe
Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel, President of VdÜ (German Association of Literary Translators)
Eva Leipprand, President of VS (German Writers Association)

Berlin, September 2015

Translators targeted by scammers?

Several asif! members have recently received emails like this one:


Je suis  Mme  ***** ***** ****   . Je réside actuellement  au  Sénégal.  Je suis  à la recherche d’un traducteur, pour la traduction du Français vers l’anglais,  d’un  document  de 105 pages qui servira de support de programme scolaire ou universitaire.

Je m’adresse à vous pour vous proposer le projet de traduction du document  .Je suis désormais à votre disposition pour de future conversation et pour vous faire parvenir une copie. Afin que vous puissiez voir la cible, les objectifs. Ensuite me dire en combien de temps vous pouvez finir et me faire un devis.

NB : je dispose d’un budget de 12000 € pour la traduction, (révision et  correction).   La traduction sera destinée  à des fins pédagogiques dans les universités d’Afrique de l’ouest.

Délais  de livraison  la traduction : 4 mois.

Some of our German colleagues were contacted similarly last month, and we believe this to be a scam aiming to harvest bank account details.

We advise translators to treat this with extreme caution, to not enter into negotiations, and to not supply any personal/bank details to the sender.

If a job sounds like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is!