Charm of Dubbing Behind the Curtain - Summit on the Beauty of Film in the 8th Beijing International Film Festival

  On April 21, Chen Zhiqiang, Secretary of the Party Committee and Deputy Director of China National Film Museum, and Vice Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Beijing International Film Festival, Bian Jianguo, Deputy Inspector of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television and Deputy Secretary-General of the Organizing Committee of Beijing International Film Festival, and Rao Shuguang, Secretary-General of China Film Association, attended the Summit and delivered the speeches. The guests, including Tong Zirong, the voice artist, Wang Jinsong, Assistant Dean of the Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy, Yan Jixuan, famous voice actress and voice supervisor, Jiang Guangtao, famous voice actor and voice director, Liu Xiaoyun, famous Chinese voice actress, Advait Chandan, Indian director, and Italo Spinelli, Chairman of Asiatica Film Mediale and voice specialist, also addressed the Summit.

  Summit on the Beauty of Film aims to further study the principles under film creation, dig the cultural connotation of films, pursue the art in the film aesthetics, explore the role of films in popularizing culture, guiding the opinions on aesthetics, promoting the Chinese Dream and so on. It leads the audiences to understand the mystery behind the screen.

  After the leaders’ speech, Jiang Guangtao, a famous voice actor and dubbing director, played two live performances with two children for the clips of Zootopia. They performed affectionately with the mouths perfectly matching the pictures, and gained the audience applause.

  Then a clip of the classic film Zorro was played live, and Tong Zirong, the voice actor for Zorro, was invited to give a speech. It has been more than 30 years since Tong dubbed Zorro, but it is still unforgettable. Many of the guests were his fans. Wang Jinsong said that Tong’s voice was so beautiful that he used to listen to it as music when he was a child. Unfortunately, Mr. Tong missed two chances to meet with the actor Alain Delon who played Zorro, and he now wants to see Alan and know if Alan’s situation is good.

  For the current dubbing work, Mr. Tong made fun of himself and said, “Now I am a monster, like the Evil Lord in Monkey King: Hero is Back. Of course, it is not easy to match the monster. It requires hard working.” He thinks dubbing is the art of language. It is the shaping of characters, and the dubbing has a special charm, which can be summarized in a few words: “Let me hide behind the curtain.” If you do not appear in front of the audiences, you will remain mysterious. If you come to the stage, this special charm will no longer exist. He thanked the Beijing International Film Festival for its emphasis on dubbing, and held this Summit for the group of workers behind the curtain and “who are easily overlooked by everyone.” In the face of the voice industry downturn, Tong said that he was sad and unwilling, but he would still do his job well and revitalize his dubbing career. Finally, at the end of the speech, Mr. Tong recited the selection of On Yueyang Tower, which was loud and thought-provoking.

  Wang Jinsong began his speech in the worship of Mr. Tong Zirong. He said that the sound was a very big field for our senses in ten directions, creating a wonderful art space. He thinks that it is the sound effect that combines the voices, the lines and the music that makes the theme of the film sublimate, extends the imagination and enables the most beautiful meaning outside the picture to flow into the heart. He eagerly hopes that the art of sound can regain focus. A new generation of young people should realize that under any circumstances, we must practice the lines well, have a higher pursuit of sound and the art of language, improve our mental states and professional levels, and be worthy of the expectations of the older generation of artists, thus making better versions of the dubbed films.

  Yan Jixuan delivered the speech themed Development Trends of Chinese Dubbing for the Imported Films, in which she recalled the past dubbing market, thought about the growth of voice actors, and looked forward to the future of dubbing market. First, she reviewed the history of Chinese dubbed films and introduced the representative works of the older generation of voice actors. With a series of classic dubbed films such as Lenin in 1918, Pavel Korchagin, Hamlet, and When We Pick Apples, she led everyone to appreciate the glorious past. Then, with her own dubbing experience, she showed the gorgeous era of “reference films”. According to her, not all euphonious sound is good, but the sound that matches the character is good. Solid sound and hoarse sound are all needed. At the same time, she also gave her opinions on the development of the modern dubbing industry. She believed that the voice actors were facing a very serious challenge. The development of science and technology, the audience’s demand for the original sound with subtitles, and the introduction of dubbing stars for the blockbusters are all the issues that everyone has to face and discuss. The critical age for the dubbing actors to constantly improving their dubbing levels has come. But she believed that the industry will not die. She thanked everyone for coming to this Summit to embrace the past, present and future of the dubbing world.

  《Rethinking Dubbing is the title of Jiang Guangtao’s speech. He first introduced the dubbing and the understanding of dubbing among different groups. He had experienced the glorious years of the dubbed films, and went all the way through the muddy soundtrack from a supporting voice to the leading role. After 2000, he participated in the dubbing of The Lord of the Rings, Transformers and so on. But today, the influence of dubbed films can no longer be on par with that of the 1980s. Poorly dubbed films had hurt the hearts of Chinese audiences. The subtitle versions of the imported films have become the mainstream, and the dubbed versions are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Some countries prohibited the cinemas to show some films in other languages. Jiang Guangtao thinks they are protecting their own languages. Language is culture, civilization, and the heritage of a nation. If a language of a nation is captured, its future will be uncertain. He said, “The good culture of the Chinese nation should be spread out, and the good culture outside is going to come in; but for many things in the ideological fields, the old European countries are much more cautious than we are. I think our government should be aware of this, so the problem of films with subtitles and dubbed films may not be the problem in market selection.” In addition, he also proposed passing on the wealth of the predecessors to young people: “In most times dubbing is a collective creation. If young people fail to improve, ultimately it will harm us when we cannot act young in the future. I entered the industry at the age of 19. Now there are still some people who asked me to dub the characters in their teens. What’s wrong? The number of young voice actors is enough. Maybe the quality has not been up to standard.”

  Liu Xiaoyun, a famous dubbing actress from Taiwan, China, has worked in dubbing for forty years, and she has done all the dubbing work we can think of. This job has become a part of her life. Her father wanted her to find another stable job, but she persisted. She learned from her teacher Wu Li. When she was a child, she could only learn the "form" of dubbing. Later she gradually grew up and understood its meaning. In the golden age of Hong Kong and Taiwan drama, she had a lot of opportunities and progressed very quickly. She realized that in order to move the audience, she should not be limited to the dubbing of some characters. She said, “There is no good or bad dubbing, only the most suitable and best performed dubbing.” In her mind, a qualified voice actor can help the work to increase its dramatic tension, and strengthen the actor's expressiveness. The voice actor should be responsible for his or her work, read the script, understand the director's demands on the sound, and act it out with a natural sound.

  It is not the first time for Indian Director Advait Chandan to come to China. He misses Chinese fans and Chinese food very much. As a director, he does not think he can give some insights in the field of dubbing, but there are common elements in different cultures. Whether you are from China or Pakistan, you will miss your family, and the real connection between people is the common feelings across human beings. He said, “In China, I've seen a lot of fans affected by my films. I wonder why my movies can resonate. I don't know how to respond to them. I think it's the great translations and voice actors that build the bridges and let so many people experience the film. Although our languages are different, we have the great translators and voice actors to help us understand each other and cross the boundaries of religions, laws, cultures, and languages.”

  Italo Spinelli, Chairman of Asiatica Film Mediale and voice specialist, also expressed his gratitude for the invitation and delivered the speech. Personally he thought that when we watch a movie, the best effect is achieved when we watch the original version, without subtitles nor dubbing. But because it is impossible for us to understand all languages, the film has to be translated. He introduced the processes in dubbing and subtitling in foreign countries. In most cases, people have very limited time and heavy tasks. Subtitles or dubbing should be finished within three days. It seems that this is the last step for the film, but it is actually a decisive step in the promotion of a film in foreign countries. He also used some classic Italian films as the examples to trace the history of dubbing in Italy, which showed that dubbing was actually a cultural promotion and transmission. Finally he proposed, “Currently we can't understand all the languages, and the only option is to use dubbing or subtitles. As practitioners in this industry, we should minimize the loss to the original film caused by dubbing or subtitles. In order to cross barriers caused by different understandings of the film in different areas, we have to translate the film with love and fall in love with it, so that there is no obstacles to each other.”

  Dubbing, as an important part of sound elements, cannot be ignored for its contribution to film works. By dubbing, the images of film characters can be more distinctive and full, and the atmosphere in the film is more incisive and vivid. We hope that the new generation of film dubbing actors can inherit the spirit and strength of the old generation of dubbing artists, continue the glory in the 1980s, find new development directions in the new era, and make the excellent dubbed films spring up endlessly.


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