For the second year, we’ve worked with Glasgow Short Film Festival, this time expanding coverage to nine feature-length programmes of shorts, including the entirety of their Scotttish Competition and our own Girl in the Picture: The Youth Films of Nobuhiko Obayashi programme. The latter celebrates the early, experimental work of the House director and includes films subtitled in English for the first time. We’ve worked with translator Moe Shoji to produce SDH for these films, and they represent the start of a bigger project we’re very excited about – watch this space!
Find all the captioned films screening at GSFF20 here.
Why Don’t You Just Die! (Kirill Sokolov, 2020) is the first in our new, monthly screening series Arrow Video Night, in collaboration with Arrow Video. Arrow produces SDH for all their home releases, but we’ll guarantee them either way, since some of the programme will be sneak previews and descriptive subtitles may not be ready in time for our screenings. Why Don’t You Just Die! is a prime slice of Russian splatterpunk comedy, lots of fun and an advance screening ahead of its Blu-ray release in April.
Remakesploitation Fest is our collaboration with Iain Robert Smith (King’s College London/Remakesploitation Film Club) and the result of a long, long infatuation with the weird world of Turkish fantastic cinema – particularly the era which featured countless unauthorised remakes of Hollywood films. Following our sold-out premiere screening of the 2K restoration of Turkish Star Wars (Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam) last year, we’re bringing a whole day of Turkish remakes to CCA Glasgow, all with exclusive, brand-new translations, screening for the first time in the world with English SDH. Thanks to King’s College London and Film Hub Scotland for making this possible!
Very different events, but both a pleasure to work on. One is a showcase of the absurd, political and queer musical films of John Greyson, the other a new restoration of a 1988 documentary on Leith and its changing socio-economic landscape.
Sing and Fight! is an event showcasing the absurd, political and queer musical films of John Greyson. Produced by Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival, in collaboration with HIV Scotland and Pollyanna queer cabaret, it takes place at Glasgow’s The Deep End. Alongside rarely shown musical short films from the 1980s, the event centres on clips from Zero Patience (John Greyson, 1993). Greyson’s film uses the unlikely form of song and dance to tell the story of the unfairly stigmatised, supposed ‘patient zero’ of the AIDS epidemic in North America.
Leithers (Alistair Scott, 1988) documents the people who lived and worked in Leith during the ’80s and examines the changing socio-economic landscape of Leith at that time. The film screening will be introduced by film-maker Alistair Scott, Associate Professor of Film & TV at Edinburgh Napier University. The screening will also be accompanied by a short compilation of archive footage of Leith from the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive and will be followed by a short panel discussion about Leith’s past, present and future.
Janice Forsyth invited our producer Megan Mitchell to discusses the rise in popularity of subtitled films on BBC Radio Scotland’s Afternoon Show
Megan was invited on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Afternoon Show yesterday (16/12/2019) to discuss subtitling in films, with host Janice Forsyth and writer, academic and programmer Pasquale Iannone. If you’re in Britain, you can listen to the segment (for the next 29 days, at least) on the BBC’s website, here.
BBC doesn’t currently provide transcripts of its radio shows, so we’ve made one ourselves. Read it below, download a PDF here, or listen along with our subtitled clip.
Janice Forsyth: Now, until recently, subtitles and film and television were restricted to foreign language presentations, but now, well, I think a lot of us expect them as an option, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, BBC iPlayer, which offer so many shows fully captioned or subtitles. It’s great for world cinema and allows viewers to broaden their horizons from their living room but, apart from that, should we be captioning and subtitling everything anyway for reasons of inclusivity and have audiences become more adept at watching and reading at the same time? Well, here to help us explore how things are changing are two film buffs. In our Edinburgh studio, Afternoon Show regular and Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone. Ciao, Pasquale.
Pasquale Iannone: Ciao, Janice. Come va?
Janice: No bad.
Pasquale: No bad! “I’m awright.”
Janice: Awright, son! And with me in Glasgow is Megan Mitchell, producer with independent film exhibitor Matchbox Cineclub. She’s also co-founder – I love this – of the first film festivals anywhere in the world dedicated to Keanu Reeves… and Nicolas Cage. Megan, welcome.
Megan Mitchell: Thank you for having me on.
Janice: Great to have you here. So, tell us about Matchbox Cineclub. It’s such a brilliant title. What does it do?
Megan: So we are basically, as you said, independent film exhibitors which means, really simply, that we screen films across the UK, even though we’re based predominantly in Glasgow. We screen everything, as you said, from classic Keanu Reeves and some cagey Cage all the way through to experimental Japanese cinema, world cinema and everything in between. We’re really interested in cult films and cult audiences.
Janice: Wow, that’s interesting. Park Circus films did something like that you know, years ago, it was like Park Circus, they were based in Park Circus, they’re based in Glasgow, and became huge as distributors. Have they been a kind of shining example to you of what can be done?
Megan: Yeah, and actually we’re really good pals with Park Circus. They’ve supplied quite a few of our titles, particularly some of the harder to get things. They’re a really good resource for us and any exhibitors across the UK, actually.
Janice: That’s great. All power to you. So, what about this, then, this phenomenon? I think many of us who do watch and maybe binge on box sets on the various streaming services, um… Well, I mean, let’s get out of the way the whole idea of actually sometimes it’s not to do with needing them because it’s a foreign language. For me, and sometimes other people, I mean, going way back to something like The Wire, I was so pleased when I discovered that there was a subtitling… there was access to subtitling so I could really understand the brilliant dialogue. Do you, Megan, see that there’s been a big increase in this, in proper, fully captioned, subtitled films?
Megan: Absolutely and I think that younger generations particularly are now expecting that subtitles are on cinema we’re seeing it across not just streaming platforms, particularly Netflix and MUBI, who are captioning 100% of their content, or subtitling 100% of their content but particularly on social media and, you know, with the use of phones, we’ve got captioned content on video content there because no-one’s, you know, turning off their music or putting on their earphones to listen to something when they’re out and about, so I think with the increase of that, that’s leaking through into cinema and what audiences are expecting and I think, as you rightly said, access is a massive part of that as well, that there’s this crossover with people who, you know, aren’t particularly deaf or, you know, recognising themselves as such but finding subtitles massively helpful in understanding what’s happening on-screen.
Janice: Yeah. Yeah. It is fascinating, isn’t it, Pasquale…
Janice: Because, obviously, you know, with Italian cinema, it’s no problem for you and presumably other languages as well, but it is terrific to have that option, but, for a long time, people, some people, would be a bit squeamish, “Oh, you know, “it’s a pain in the neck to have to read the subtitles as well.” Do you see a sea change now?
Pasquale: Yeah, I think so. I mean, there’s this idea that, you know, all non-English-language films are somehow art cinema, they’re art house films, they’re inaccessible, they’re complex, they’re…they’re cryptic, etc, and we know, obviously, that that’s not the case. I mean, granted, there are some of those titles but I mean there’s a huge variety of films of all different types of genres on all the streaming platforms, really. I mean, I was looking through Netflix, and there’s some incredible films. There’s an Indonesian action movie, The Raid, The Raid 1 & 2, incredible film, and of course it’s all, kind of, in Indonesian and it is not an arthouse film, the way we would think of it. And it’s this whole idea of subtitles versus dubbing, ’cause over here, obviously, we’re not really used to dubbing, as a culture, and it feels weird, I think, whereas some other cultures in Europe dubbing is very much the norm and… But, I think, yeah, I mean, it’s this idea of having the original.
Pasquale: And if it’s… If you have to have subtitles, then fine. I mean, there are actually some directors who say, “No, no, I’ve spent ages composing this image, “I don’t want text on it.”
Pasquale: There are very few of those.
Janice: I think most directors would surely prefer that than dubbing. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when we used to have foreign language export/import, or whatever it is, telly after school, so there would be Robinson Crusoe and Belle and Sebastian and it was it was all the dubbing but it was hilarious, because… Certainly, my brother and I just used to spend our time impersonating the very bad English-accented foreign voices. It was very, very funny. What about, Megan, mainstream cinemas? How many mainstream cinemas are regularly screening captioned or subtitled films?
Megan: I mean, I actually took a look at us this morning before I came in, because usually we’re sitting in the mid-teens for subtitled screenings in multiplexes across Glasgow for a whole week. This week, it’s took a massive upswing because of Star Wars. There are 26 subtitled screenings across Glasgow this week. That’s a choice of six films including one screening of Frozen 2. However, if you do not require subtitles or aren’t looking for something that’s subtitled, you can go to Glasgow’s biggest multiplex today and see 60 screenings across 12 films, so I think there’s a massive, still a massive gap in terms of film screening exhibition access. In Glasgow, we’re seeing a massive increase in terms of independent exhibitors actually taking up the mantle of access and doing 100% or trying to achieve increased captions so earlier this year, Matchbox actually took the choice to dedicate 100% of our programming to captioning so that all of the films we screen, regardless of whether they’re English or foreign language have captions and subtitles so that anyone can come along and enjoy the films.
Janice: Is that an expensive business to do?
Megan: Funnily enough, my colleague at Matchbox, Sean Welsh, he is a professional subtitler, so he subtitles and captions for MUBI and freelance so we can do it in-house but we’ve also seen an increase in funding, so that other organisations can reach out to us or other subtitlers and get that. We’re seeing that, on the production side, in terms of distributors for films, they’re still not supplying or producing subtitles so it means that even if people are wanting to screen their films accessibly, they just can’t.
Janice: Yeah. It’s interesting this, isn’t it, Pasquale? I mean, also ’cause, you know, subtitled films you can totally imagine as an education resource for language students.
Pasquale: Totally, yeah, and it’s an incredibly useful tool, as is music, of course, but, I mean, especially with film and it’s something that, you know, when I was at school, when I were a lad, you know, going back to the mid to late ’90s, I mean, you didn’t have that. I mean, you didn’t have the… You had the old… You still had old VHS and DVD was coming in, but it was nowhere near this amount of accessibility that you have now and so a tool, like this language learning in Netflix, is superb. I mean, it just allows viewers to watch foreign language shows with subtitles both in the original language and the English and you can pause it to really kind of absorb what they’ve just seen. Obviously, there’s some series and TV programmes that are better suited for this kind of thing. I mean, I was thinking… I was thinking of some series that are given some flack for their sound, the way that actors mumble, the way that actors… apparently, the Director General of the BBC said, “Muttering is something we should have a look at.”
Pasquale: Back in 2013!
Janice: I love that. So W1A, isn’t it? Yeah! But there was an audibility project apparently in 2009, involving a 20,000 panel of viewers and listeners so this idea of sound and being able to catch every single thing but sometimes you don’t actually need to catch every single thing. It does really depend on the film, on the TV show. And how much is relayed through dialogue, and how much is relayed through the visual side.
Janice: Yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently because, Megan, I’ve been, you know, I was lucky enough to go to a BAFTA screening of The Irishman, so I saw it on the big screen. It wasn’t that big a screen, but it was a big screen And I was really glad I was able to do that. However, I have to admit, during it… I mean, I loved it, I really, really enjoyed it, but during it I was thinking, “Oh, I can’t quite catch what he said there,” and I was imagining that moment where I could pause and get the subtitles up. And I was just personifying exactly what Pasquale’s talking about. It was like, “Wait a minute, enjoy this master at work, “look at these visuals, just take in the whole thing, “maybe later…” Fortunately, it’s on Netflix, so I can look at the subtitles, but it’s interesting about how it maybe affects our experience of just sinking into the film.
Megan: Yeah, but I think in terms of the availability of the subtitles and captions, particularly when you do go to the cinema you might be able to sink into the film a wee bit easier if subtitles aren’t on the screen, but if someone needs subtitles, they can’t view the film.
Janice: That’s it.
Pasquale: Yeah. I think there’s a really interesting conversation around that, particularly with art house cinemas and the idea that they are maybe a wee bit hesitant to put captions on their English language content, even though they screen predominantly foreign language, but they’re not hesitant to put out their wheelchair ramp.
Megan: And it’s that type of same access that they’re providing, so I think that there’s a larger conversation around why we want subtitles on films, and it’s because of the idea that more people can go see these films and enjoy them.
Janice: Don’t you think, Pasquale, that because there’s been a sea change in people like me enjoying, for the small screen anyway, the ability, to do with the mumbling or whatever, to be able to, you know, actually see, read what they’re saying, don’t you think, because of that, there should be less hesitancy amongst arthouse cinemas or wherever to roll out the subtitles and the captions for English language films?
Pasquale: Yeah, I mean, I do think so. I mean, obviously it’s something that happens a lot in other countries but obviously it’s very different over here, so maybe there’s less of this pressure, perhaps, to put it on these screens, but it’s definitely something that happens in Italy in France, where you have cinemas playing all the big hitters, all the big films in dubbed versions, but also with, in original versions as well.
Janice: Yeah. Certainly, thinking about what you’re doing with Matchbox Cinema Club [sic], is there a lot of… I mean, do you go for a lot of foreign language films or is that not what your main thrust is when you’re thinking of programming?
Megan: So, our main, core programme is about films you can’t see anywhere else, so that’s predominantly archive and world cinema, so foreign language. We also have our tent pole, larger weekend festivals, that are a wee bit more mainstream films, but they’re all captioned as well. And, for us, a lot of that is that we’re able to produce those captions in-house but we’re also, you know, able to bring in people – you can see Con Air, maybe on Netflix, but you can’t see it, you know, captioned on the big screen elsewhere.
Janice: Yeah. Just finally, what you were saying there, Pasquale, you were talking about a brilliant Indonesian action film.
Janice: That’s the thing, there’s such a richness out there and I’m as guilty as anybody else of not exploring, you know, the rest of the world’s cinema ’cause there’s so much else to catch up with and somebody like Mark Cousins always makes me feel guilty ’cause he plunges into it all the time, but there’s so much brilliant film-making going on, right around the globe. Yeah, and actually, talk about Mark Cousins, I mean, Moviedrome was a real formative moment for me in terms of film education, that great series back in the ’90s and with Mark Cousins and Alex Cox, but, yeah, I mean, just one look at Netflix, and I was just having a look at the international titles that they have and on their front page, the lead page is The Pianist, the Roman Polanski film.
Pasquale: But I was just looking at some others that they’ve got. They’ve got this terrific film called The Guilty, which is a film, a Danish film. One actor, just one actor in the film, so a bit like that film Locke, with Tom Hardy.
Pasquale: This is about an emergency police dispatcher who takes a call from a kidnapped woman. Very, very spare locations. Very, very suspenseful 90 minutes, less than 90 minutes and you’re done. And it’s a terrific film!
Janice: I’m writing it down. Guilty. Thank you very much indeed. Do you know what? We’ve talked so much, I can only play a little bit of the final song now, but I thought that was fascinating. Thank you very much indeed, Pasquale Iannone and Megan Mitchell. Cheers.
Megan: Thank you.
Pasquale: Thank you.
Janice: And, Megan, yeah, Cage-a-rama 2020 taking place from the 3rd to 5th of January at the CCA in Glasgow, for all your Nicolas Cage needs, hosted by Megan and her team. Thank you very much indeed.
All of Matchbox Cineclub’s programmed is subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. Keep up to date with our events by signing up to our mailing list, here, or find our events on Facebook here. For more information on our subtitling service, read our dedicated page here.
Cage-a-rama 2020 takes place 3rd, 4th and 4th January 2020 at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Buy tickets here.
The tale of our collaboration with Prince expert/fashion historian/cult film programmer triple threat Casci Ritchie, in celebration of His Royal Badness
When news of Prince’s untimely death came through in April 2016, we were hosting a mystery screening at The Old Hairdressers. We lingered after the screening to take advantage of the special set-up (brand-new projector and tiered seating brought in for GI) and settled in to scour YouTube for whatever Prince content we could find (not a huge amount back then). Coincidentally, Backseat Bingo, about five years ago, hosted cult film screenings in The Old Hairdressers (films like Cry Baby, Teenagers From Outer Space, House On Haunted Hill and Strait-Jacket). This was just before Matchbox Cineclub started our monthly night there (and long before we moved our residency to CCA), and sadly we never made it to one of their events.
Backseat Bingo was then dormant for a few years, so altogether we were very happy, in January this year, to hear from Casci Ritchie, the brains behind BB, with a co-screening pitch. Casci, also a fashion historian specialising in Prince, wanted to mark what would’ve been The Purple One’s 61st birthday on Friday June 7th, 2019, with a rare screening of Under The Cherry Moon (1986). We jumped at the chance to screen Prince’s misunderstood directorial debut, the follow-up to the acknowledged masterpiece Purple Rain, derided as a vanity project and long overdue for critical reappraisal.
And it seemed everyone else wanted to do something special for the event too. CCA’s tech staff agreed to climb teetering ladders to add coloured gels to their lights – though the unexpectedly pouring sunshine dulled the effect a little – so the foyer greeting the audience was bathed, albeit faintly, in Prince-y purple. Saramago, the café/bar embedded in the heart of CCA, got involved by playing Casci’s specially-curated Prince playlist all day long, from doors open until our programme began at 7pm, with the best of Prince’s movie trailers. Casci even provided a stash of Tootsie Pops, Prince’s very favourite sweet, for the arriving audience to dig into.
Casci’s illustrated talk took us on a journey through Prince’s fashion evolution, illustrating his iconic style through photos, clips and her expert knowledge. From his early days as a dedicated follower of fashion, all bell bottoms and platforms, to his instantly recognisable spandex, chains and trench coat, right through to his final years of more relaxed feminine tailor, Casci covered it all. Prince is known for his outlandish dress sense, but Casci gave the audience an insight into just how considered and deliberate his choices were, reflecting his evolving artistic intentions. The audience were then well equipped to fully appreciate His Royal Badness’ outfits in Under The Cherry Moon, and safe to say everyone wanted a backless suit.
The event was sold out, and we sold tickets on a sliding scale from zero to £8, with an average ticket price of £4.86. That’s worth noting since typically we’d price our tickets at around £4 and so the sliding scale continues to provide accessibility while actual increasing our box office. That’s important because it proves screenings like these can be sustainable and accessible at the same time, and also because it means Backseat Bingo can reinvest in more upcoming events.
Casci also organised a raffle in aid of East Glasgow Music School, a project we felt Prince would’ve approved of. EGMS run on Saturday mornings during term time and offer music lessons for children in the East End of Glasgow, helping build self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. The School provides instruments on free loan to children, and is fully inclusive, welcoming children of all levels of ability and from all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Matchbox Cineclub contributed our share of the box office too, making a total of £225.31 for EGMS.
Also in terms of accessibility, the main feature and the supporting programme (trailers for Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, Graffiti Bridge, our upcoming screening Der Fan and the music video for Batdance) were captioned/subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. That’s possible since Matchbox now has a professional subtitling arm, and the intention to caption/subtitle all our upcoming screenings and their supporting programmes (i.e. trailers, etc).
We have more team-ups on the way this year – with Sad Girl Cinema, Queer Classics and Pity Party Film Club – and we’re always looking for collaboration. This year, Film Hub Scotland’s support means we’ve been able to spark some co-screenings to encourage new independent exhibitors/programmers, like Venom Mob Film Club, or dormant ones, like Backseat Bingo, to screen more films around Glasgow. And, if you’d like to start a film night, or plan your own screening series, we’re running an open call for collaborative pitches to help launch your project through a co-screening with us. The deadline for pitches is Friday June 14th – read the full details here. And if you’re more established but would still like to team-up, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch here.
Thanks to Casci Ritchie & Backseat Bingo, Charlie, Kenny Christie, Dee Clark, Alex Misick, Ingrid Mur, Film Hub Scotland, Filmbank and CCA Glasgow.
Like Backseat Bingo on Facebook here, follow them on Instagram here.
Matchbox Cineclub team with Sad Girl Cinema to present a rare screening of a cult German horror and a panel discussion on obsession, fandom and thirst
We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Sad Girl Cinema to present a rare screening of the cult ’80s German horror Der Fan (Eckhart Schmidt, 1982) followed by an expert panel on obsession, thirst and fandom.
Claire Biddles (Sad Girl Cinema) chairs the panel, to which we also welcome Bethany Rose Lamont (Sad Girl Cinema), Liz Murphy (artist) and Jamie Dunn (The Skinny).
Der Fan follows teenage Simone’s obsession with singer R. When they finally meet, R is everything Simone needs him to be, taking her into his arms and fulfilling her dreams. But R’s intentions are not as pure and loving as Simone’s. The shocking consequences make Der Fan an undeniable cult gem, as well as an analytical exploration of obsession gone too far.
The panel will discuss their own thoughts on how ‘thirst’ and obsession can drive and impact cultural consumption, in regards to sexuality, professionalism and creative output. How do we consume culture in relation to our own sexual desire and obsessions, and how do we express our desire in response, through creative work and cultural criticism? How do we maintain boundaries with regards to our obsessions? Is ‘thirst’ the new normal for cultural consumers and creators? And what do we even mean by ‘thirst’?
Der Fan screens at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, on Sunday 21/07. Tickets are on sale via our online shop here. Tickets are priced on a sliding scale, based on your circumstances. There are three tiers: Free/£2, £4/£6 and £8. (register for a free ticket via firstname.lastname@example.org). Read our guide on what to pay: bit.ly/slidingscaleguide
NB The film is in German and will be captioned in English for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The screening is part of Film Feels: Obsession, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the The National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at http://www.filmfeels.co.uk.
Following our Glasgow Short Film Festival retrospective programme, Two Weirds Is Too Weird: The Jackal Films of Alice Lowe & Jacqueline Wright, director Jacqueline Wright has very kindly allowed us to host The Making Of Stiffy, a behind the scenes look at her 2005 short, written by and starring Alice Lowe. Watch it now, with descriptive subtitles, on our Facebook page.