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Found in Translation: Giving voice to the 'Subtitlers'

As far as documentary movie subjects are concerned, it is akin to examining the lives of toll operators at the Dartford Crossing.


Nonetheless, it is just the kind of topic that gets your curiosity aroused.


‘The Invisible Subtitler’ is a new documentary by Aliakbar Campwala and sheds some light on the work of the army of translators providing the subtitles for the benefit of everyone from non-Hindi speaking Amitabh Bachchan fans to anyone who watches ‘Geordie Shore’.


Actor and filmmaker Campwala - last seen providing the silver lining in the otherwise dross ‘7 Welcome to London’ in 2011 – first had his interest piqued in this unseen army during his time living in South East Asia.


“I learnt to speak a variety of languages, like Malaysian and Indonesian when I was living out there and that was largely due to the fact that most films and TV programmes are all subtitles’’ he says.


“It got me thinking how so many thousands of people benefit and are entertained based on what the subtitlers do.”


As a first step, Campwala began making enquiries about subtitlers and companies in London before expanding his investigation to the sub-continent and even Hollywood.


Some of the subjects featured in ‘The Invisible Subtitler’ have Hollywood projects under their belts, Campwala says.


“I was fascinated about languages and how these people can bind a foreign viewer to a medium which is, at first, alien to them.”


‘The Invisible Subtitler’ also sheds light on how the subtitles industry has developed, as well as – surprisingly enough – the conventions that govern the business.


Campwala – who self-funded the project - also doesn’t shy away from exploring the problems that have beset the industry in recent times, including concerns about pay and professional standards.


The film’s debut screening will be held at London’s Europe House on Tuesday February 26.


For timings and more information, visit