Interpreters erase language barriers between IFFK’s celebrated guests and their fans

Korean filmmaker Kim ki Duk offers his microphone to a delegate to ask a question during a programme as part of a previous IFFK in Thiruvananthapuram

Korean filmmaker Kim ki Duk offers his microphone to a delegate to ask a question during a programme as part of a previous IFFK in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: S Mahinsha


Interpreters help celebrated guests of the IFFK reach out to their fans and followers

Argentine filmmaker Fernando Solanas, who was awarded the Lifetime achievement award of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) 2019, speaks Spanish. Helping him break the ice and communicate with his many admirers will be Italian Davide De Martino, who speaks Italian, Spanish and English.

Every year, during the IFFK, interpreters move centre stage as they become the voice of legendary directors and filmmakers participating in the fete. Bina Paul, Artistic Director of the IFFK, laughs when she recalls the challenges the mandarins of Kerala State Chalachitra Academy (KSCA) had to face while trying to locate interpreters. “There were times, when we had to turn to students, tourists and expats living in the city to communicate with the filmmakers. With departments of the University of Kerala teaching Russian, French and German, Arabic and so on and with the establishment of centres like the Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, Goethe Zentrum and Russian Cultural Centre, it has been comparatively easy to recruit interpreters. But finding interpreters for Chinese and Korean filmmakers has been challenging,” she adds.


But find they did by turning to Chennai and Bengaluru with a large population of expats and techies. By tapping into the network of techies and translators, we were able to recruit interpreters, explains Banduprasad, Film Liaison-in-charge.

“Kim ki Duk was coming to Thiruvananthapuram for the IFFK (2013) and there was excitement among programmers and delegates. However, we had to find an interpreter who knew Korean and English. Finally, we found a person from Bengaluru who became his interpreter during his stay in Kerala,” recalls Bina.

“Until a few years ago, theatreperson Yasmin Jasdanwala was a resident of the city and she chipped in whenever we needed a Spanish interpreter. Similarly Maryse Noiseux, a Kathakali practitioner living here could be depended on to help with Italian,” adds Bandhu.

Acting as the voice and ears of the filmmakers, they erase barriers of language. Sreeresh S recalls how he had acted as interpreter for filmmaker Werner Herzog. “Werner was not comfortable with English and so I took him around the city and showed him the sights. As he wanted to converse with the locals, I helped translate,” says Sreeresh, who adds that German interpretors are assigned to a delegate only if requested by the KSCA.

Similarly, it is the Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum that comes to the rescue of the KSCA if they need interpreters for French. Rupasree Rajendran, a tutor at Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, recollects the time she chipped in as an interpreter for French sound editor Jean-Claude Laureux during IFFK years ago. Jean-Claude Laureux had worked on the acclaimed Three Colours trilogy. “I had watched the movies and hence, personally, it was an interesting occasion to meet him. What I noticed is since awareness about world cinema is high in Kerala, there were a lot of people who had turned out to meet him,” she says.

Rupasree’s role was to translate what Jean-Claude Laureux said and help him understand the audience’s queries. She remembers the trilogy was so famous that sound designer Resul Pookutty had come to IFFK to visit the sound editor.

“Knowing another language is an experience in itself,” says Ajith Gopinath, who has been an interpreter of Russian at the film festival for a decade now. A lawyer by profession, Ajith says that he helps out filmmakers or technicians or representatives from erstwhile Soviet countries.

“I have had some interesting experiences as well. Once I was interpreting for one of the members of the jury. Another member wasn’t happy that I was around when the discussions were on and after a while that person asked me to leave. I didn’t feel bad because I understood their predicament. However, later the jury chairman and that particular person apologised!” says Ajith.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 11:29:42 PM |

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