Accessible filmmaking in documentaries
Year of publication
In line with current attempts to build bridges between film and translation, the present article applies the notion of accessible filmmaking (the integration of audiovisual translation and accessibility as part of the filmmaking process) to the theory and practice of documentary film. The first part of the article offers a brief historical overview of this genre, with particular emphasis on its key defining features and a discussion of how the translation of documentaries has been handled so far by filmmakers and translators. After a short introduction about the progress made up to date regarding the training, research and practice of accessible filmmaking, the second and main section of this article explores how this approach has been implemented in four recent documentaries: Joining the Dots (2012), A Grain of Sand (2014), Colours of the Alphabet (2016) and Notes of Blindness (2016). These films are used here to illustrate how translation and accessibility can be integrated in the film production workflow, to discuss the political and ethical impact of the use of subtitles in ethnographic documentaries and to analyse the role of translation and accessibility in the (pre)production and post-production stage, with special emphasis on the use of integrated titles. The early consideration of translation and accessibility in documentary films is presented here as an issue of ethics and responsibility for filmmakers vis-à-vis the participants in the film and its foreign and sensory-impaired viewers.