‘Ban dubbing! Spaniards will have to get used to it’

Film director Carlos Saura is one of several high-profile figures who think it's a "mistake" for foreign films and series not to be shown in their original language and instead to be dubbed into Spanish.

'Ban dubbing! Spaniards will have to get used to it'
Manuel — the clumsy Spanish waiter in British comedy series Fawlty Towers — was turned into an Italian in the Spanish-dubbed version of the show. Photo: YouTube

What do Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Sylvester Stallone all have in common?

Well, apart from being Hollywood greats, all three have the same voice in the Spanish-dubbed movies they star in.

Ricardo Solans, a legendary Spanish dubbing actor who has also given his voice to Micky Rourke, Charlie Chaplin and many others, is one of 30,000 voice-over artists in Spain.

Controversial MP Tony Cantó, the former actor who made headlines last week for baring all in an upcoming gay-themed drama , told Spain’s parliament it’s time to ditch dubbing:

“Do we want to hear Brando, Pacino or Meryl Streep in their own language?

“Let’s put an end to dubbing, it will be good for the film industry in our country.”

Cantó sees dubbing as an unnecessary financial burden for Spain’s ailing film business, arguing that “more and more Spaniards want to watch films in their original language”.

Skip to 1:01 to see how Manuel becomes Paolo (an Italian waiter) in the Spanish-dubbed version of Fawlty Towers

Film director Carlos Saura, famed for his 1980s Flamenco film trilogy, thinks the all-powerful Motion Picture Association of America is preventing the ban from happening.

“Jack Valenti (MPAA President) threatened to boycott Spanish exports like shoes if the dubbing ban went ahead,” Saura told Spanish TV channel La Sexta.

Saura has long been concerned that Spaniards are falling out of love with their home-grown cinema because when hearing American films dubbed into Spanish they immediately assume both industries have the same budget at their disposal.

“Dubbing should be completely banned and Spaniards should just get used to it,” he claims.


But Spain’s Cinema Federation argues audiences would drop by 35 percent if all films were kept in their original language.

The number of cinemas in Spain has already dropped to 841 in 2012 from 1,223 a decade earlier, according to culture ministry figures.

Enrique González-Macho, President of Spain’s Film Academy, thinks the dubbing ban would “sink Spanish cinema”, arguing that “if people thought it that important to watch movies in their original language, they would, but they don’t”.

Spain’s film industry is already embroiled in a “cultural war” with the government, having seen state funding drop by 12.4 percent from the previous year.

Add the 30,000 voice-actors who would have to join the dole queue if dubbing into Spanish was deemed unnecessary, and it seems even less likely to happen.

And amid all this scandal, perhaps the strangest thing of all is that no mention whatsoever has been made by key political and cultural figures about the benefits of being exposed to another language through film.

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‘The Girls’ wins big at Spain’s live-streamed 2021 Goya awards

Pilar Palomero’s debut coming of age film ‘Girls’ was the big winner at the 2021 Goya Awards on Saturday, held via a live-streamed ceremony.

‘The Girls’ wins big at Spain's live-streamed 2021 Goya awards
Antonio Banderas presented the 35th Goya Awards with Spanish journalist María Casado. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

The Goyas, Spain’s prestigious annual film awards ceremony, was held at the Teatro del Soho CaixaBank in Málaga. It was a hybrid on-site/virtual ceremony, with no audience nor nominees attending in person.

‘The Girls’, a generation portrait of Spanish women who would now be in their 40s, swept the awards, winning best picture, best new director, best original screenplay, and best cinematography.

Nominees appeared on a large video screen in a Zoom-like setup, and winners accepted prizes from their own homes with their families, giving the ceremony a more intimate feel than usual.

Málaga-born Antonio Banderas directed the ceremony, and other big stars such as Pedro Almodóvar, Penélope Cruz, Paz Vega, and Alejandro Amenábar also made appearances to present the awards.

The non-audience format gave the ceremony, which is broadcast on TV, a larger reach than usual. Celebrities including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, and Isabelle Huppert sent in pre-recorded messages of support.

Just two days before international women’s day, gender issues featured strongly in nominated films and acceptance speeches. Women won almost as much as men, taking 12 categories, and Daniela Cajías became the first woman director of photography to win the best cinematography award for “Girls.”

In other categories, Mario Casas won best actor for “No Matarás” (Cross the Line), about a good-natured man who has an unexpectedly deadly confrontation, and Patricia López Arnaíz won best actress for her role in Ane (Ane is Missing), in which she plays a mother who investigates her daughter’s disappearance.

The Honorary Goya was awarded to actress Angela Molina, who starred in Luis Buñuel’s last film, “The Obscure Object of Desire”.

Last year, Pedro Almodóvar’s semi-autobiographical film Pain and Glory was the star of the ceremony, winning seven honours, including best picture, best director, original screenplay, and best actor for Antonio Banderas.