Yesterday, Mr. John Tagliabue authored a piece in the NYT on the new law requiring movies be dubbed in Catalan. More precisely, if it is approved, the law establishes that 50% of the copies available on theaters must be dubbed in Catalan.

As usually happens, Mr. Tagliabue misses one key point in his article. Catalans are not a kind of ultranationalist people, having in mind to destroy American film industry. Not really. We just want the right to choose, to decide in which version we want to watch a movie.

Currently almost 95% of all movies are dubbed in Spanish, including of course, American blockbusters. In Spain there is no tradition to watch movies in original version with subtitles, as in the rest of the (non Anglophone) World. Even my mexicans and other latin americans colleagues living in Barcelona are astonished with this fact. Only intelectuals and selected minorities watch VOSE movies (that is movies in Original Version with Spanish Subtitles) or VOSC movies (Original Version with Catalan Subtitles).

This scenario is not by any means the outcome of a natural process. On the contrary is the result of a manufactured political, cultural and linguistic process back to the Francoist régime. Under its authoritarian rule, dubbing movies in Spanish was compulsory. No films were exhibit if they were not dubbed in Spanish. At the same time, Catalan language was chased from the public sphere.

As a consequence a number of generations used to watch TV films and movies in theaters in VE (that is dubbed in Spanish) only.

So I think your readers will get a fair information if you explain that the purpose of the referred law is to balance VE movies and VC movies (dubbed in Catalan). Currently only 3% of the copies are VC movies. Worst, blockbusters such as “Avatar” are not available in VC. If you want to watch an available VC movie you have to spend time and money in order to find the right place and get there as in most cases are not displayed in Barcelona downtown theaters.

I totally agree that it would be better to watch movies in its original version (VO), or alternatively with subtitles. But I think it is not fair to write articles only explaining half of the story.

We just want the right to choose to watch Avatar in VO in VE, in VC, in VOSE or in VOSC. Currently, If I’m not wrong only VE and VOSE are available in theaters -I’m not sure about VO (original version with no subtitles). And this is a totally unacceptable scenario.

Author :