The Guardian follow-up


Roman Polanski adds voice to French subtitle protest

Director is among the high-profile figures to back complaints over reduction in fees for captions on French films
Andrew Pulver
Roman Polanski at the Cannes film festival earlier this year.

Voice of protest … Roman Polanski. Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP

Roman Polanski has joined campaigners protesting against difficulties faced by subtitle writers on French language films, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Carnage director is one of a string of high-profile names to sign a petition calling for an end to a recent reduction of payments to subtitlers translating French films into English. Other signatories include Laurent Cantet, director of Firefox, Patrice Leconte and Cyrano de Bergerac scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière.

According to the recently formed Anglo Subtitlers in France (ASIF), subtitlers’ fees are being hit by film laboratories looking to reduce costs and increase profits. The petition is to be accompanied by an open letter, which states: “Good subtitles directly help a film to generate profit … After spending hundreds of thousands, or even millions of euros to produce a film, it seems counterproductive to try and make minor savings on the subtitling, at the risk of undermining the film’s chances of success on the international marketplace.”

ASIF say the union rate of €4.10 (£3.40) per subtitle is rarely adhered to, with a recent feature film, Claude Lelouch’s Salaud, on t’aime (Bastard, We Love You) reportedly offering €0.69 per subtitle.

Subtitlers are hoping the upcoming Cannes film festival, which begins on 14 May, will provide a platform to illustrate their grievances, as it is a key showcase for French films to international audiences. “A good film poorly translated becomes a mediocre film,” said Leconte. “Don’t allow our films to be translated on the cheap.”

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