29 December 2010

The annual Gaelic short film competition, FilmG, has just put all entries online for public viewing and voting.

As in previous years, there's a mixture of very amateur and highly polished pieces, but the thing that stands out is the role of language in the competition.  I've watched half a dozen so far, and two of them have actively incorporated the problems of bilingualism in Scotland to some extent, whereas the others have decided to treat Gaelic as an everyday language, to the point where in one a man is given a leaflet in Gaelic on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow -- that just isn't going to happen.  This is one of the big dilemmas facing anyone working in a minority language.

To the minority language speaker, there are parts of life that just happen in another language.  Any attempt to treat the minority language as normal in the media risks feeling unnatural, but anything that feels natural puts the minority language on the back foot.  So what can you do?  Tough one.

The other thing that jumps out is that (like in previous years) there is a mixture of films with and without subtitles.  This makes voting hard for me personally.  The activist in me wants to reward those who eschew English entirely, but then I enjoy the shorts with subtitles more, because I understand them better.  And what about the sci-fi starting with a screen-crawler entirely in English?  Should that even have been allowed?

All in all, I would hope that for next year they make an official policy on on-screen writing, because right now I feel that there's a lack of clarity for the filmmakers.

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