Subtitling the Caribbean: A Beautiful Challenge

Cultures Connection provided the FIFAC Documentary Film Festival –that showcases films from the Amazon and the Caribbean– with subtitles services in French for 5 films 

Cinema is so much more than blockbusters and Hollywood hit movies. Films play a huge role in bringing cultures together, even the ones that are not always as popular as the well-known screenplays from North America and Europe. Documentary films notably attempt to portray social realities as accurately as possible. Film festivals such as the FIFAC strive to make film productions from little-explored areas like the Caribbean and the Amazon accessible and global.

Amazon – Caribbean Documentary Filmmaking

The Festival International du Film Documentaire Amazonie – Caraibes –FIFAC, is a multicultural event held since 2018, that showcases documentaries and digital content inspired by the peoples, cultures, and identities in the Amazon Basin and the Caribbean. This festival is part of the same initiative as the International Oceanic Documentary Film Festival (IOFF) or the Indian Ocean Film Festival. 

The 2nd edition of the FIFAC takes place in the city of Saint-Laurent du Maroni in French Guiana, from October 6th to 10th. This event brings together the audience and the documentary filmmaking non professionals and professionals. The festival is both outdoors and virtual, with online access to a total of 12 feature films, 10 short films and 7 web documentaries produced in French Guiana, the Amazon and the Caribbean areas over the last two years.

Subtitles by Cultures Connection: a challenging project

Audiovisual translation and subtitling services are essential to the cinema industry in order to overcome borders. This is why the organizers of the 2020 FIFAC have called on Cultures Connection, an international translation agency having close ties to the Americas, especially South America, thanks to its diverse staff. Actually, the project managers are film lovers, they studied audiovisual translation and collaborated with the French Ministry of Culture as well as several museums (such as the Centre Pompidou or the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco).

The task of subtitling for the FIFAC was challenging yet exciting. Indeed, the documentary I’m Citizen was unique, because one of the spoken languages is the Creole-English dialect of Trinidad that needed to be perfectly translated; the video also came without a transcript.

The Cultures Connection team was asked to translate and subtitle into French the following films scheduled at the festival: Lapu (Colombia), Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, Congo Mirador (Venezuela), Massacre River (Dominican Republic/Haiti), the documentary I’m Citizen (Trinidad and Tobago) and the short film Unbroken (Jamaica).

“Organizing a festival is like a combat sport”

“The health crisis has plunged theaters and cinemas into an unprecedented situation, endangering hundreds of thousands of jobs and the whole economy. How can we bring culture to life without its main reason for existence, that is meeting the public? Under such conditions, organizing a festival is a combat sport, where you have to endlessly reinvent yourself and adapt to exist”, said Frédéric Belleney–General Delegate of the FIFAC.

The event is made possible thanks to the effort of producers, directors, artists, institutions and other professionals in the industry. Moreover, Frédéric Belleney appreciates the role of Cultures Connection: “Subtitling films in French also contributes to the films’ promotion and allows to expand their broadcast area!”.

“Our program reflects the world, made of multiple fights. It’s a witness to the state of our society: deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, soil and ocean pollution, violence against women, racism and discrimination. But it is also about freedom, love and the union of cultures”.