Catalonia, a region of Spain with its own distinct language and culture, is expected to require cinemas to begin showing more movies in Catalan. The bill is being passed at a time when Catalan is trying to emphasize and protect its unique cultural identity as immigrants flock to the region.
However, Catalan’s cinemas are opposed to the bill, which would require that at least half the copies of every film made outside Europe to be dubbed in Catalan. Camilo Tarrazón Rodón, president of the Association of Film Businesses in Catalonia, explained his organisation’s opposition to the bill in the New York Times:
“They say it’s necessary for the government to make a rule, because the private sector doesn’t do it…Banks are not lending, companies have business problems and kids look at films on cellphones,” Mr. Tarrazón said. “How can we pay for it?”
US film producers, which release most of the films that would be affected under the new law, don’t seem to want to pay for it, either. They are also concerned that if Catalan requires dubbing, other European regions trying to preserve their own languages might start to require similar accommodations.
Only about 3% of the movies shown in Catalonia are in Catalan. Cinema owners argue that they don’t show movies in Catalan because people don’t want to see them. They point to a test in which only 12 out of 131 moviegoers preferred to watch foreign films in Catalan. The rest chose Spanish. However, supporters of the law say that this is only because there are so few movies offered in Catalan to begin with.
It’s difficult to see why people who speak Catalan would object to seeing a movie in their own language, as long as the film is dubbed properly. The New York Times notes that most plays and theatre productions are already in Catalan.
For right now, as filmmaker Enric Juste told the New York Times:
“there are so few films in Catalan, you’re talking about a situation that, at the moment, is fiction; you cannot talk about a situation that doesn’t exist.”