Spring 2007 saw the introduction of an innovative course designed to train advanced language students in the art of subtitling film from Southeast Asia. With language strength in Thai, Lao, Indonesian, Malay, Khmer, Tagalog, Burmese, and Vietnamese, CSEAS developed a course to provide advanced language students with another skill set to take with them after graduation and to produce subtitled films for use in a variety of outreach activities. This program was the first of its kind in the nation and was supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
For the length of the 17-week course students were paired in teams comprised of a native speaker of a film’s Southeast Asian language and an advanced language student in the film’s language (who was also a native English speaker). The teams successfully translated film scripts from five languages and produced time-coded English subtitles on dialogue sheets that were then applied to the films during an intensive end-of-the- semester workshop using specialized subtitling software.
The final subtitled films are available for classroom use and ongoing community outreach efforts. Aside from its value as professional skill development, one of the long-term goals of the project is to build cooperative relationships with Southeast Asian filmmakers and film archivists. Adding subtitles to their feature films, documentaries, and television programs will extend the range of their screenings to American film festivals and educational centers around the country. As an example of this extension work a collection of 18 subtitled Vietnamese films was given to the Viet Nam Film Archive as a gift from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in 2010.