App Translates César Chávez Biopic In Real Time

Mar 28, 2014
Originally published on March 28, 2014 3:44 pm

An English-language film produced by a Mexican company about civil rights activist César Chávez is out in theaters today.

But there is a smart phone app that translates the movie into Spanish in real time.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Veronica Zaragovia of KUT in Austin reports that the aim is to tap into the sizeable movie-viewing Hispanic market in the U.S.

Reporter

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Transcript

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW. An English-language film about civil rights activist Cesar Chavez is out in theaters today. So is a smartphone app called myLINGO that translates the movie into Spanish in real time. The aim is to tap into the sizeable Hispanic movie-going market in the U.S. From the HERE AND NOW Contributors Network, KUT's Veronica Zaragovia reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CESAR CHAVEZ")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As character) I was born in Yuma, Arizona, in a ranch owned by my family. We lost it in the Depression.

VERONICA ZARAGOVIA, BYLINE: The film "Cesar Chavez," about the late United Farm Workers leader, is all in English.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CESAR CHAVEZ")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As character) To be successful, we have to have an army of boycotters willing to do the hard work. The bigger the army, the bigger the success.

ZARAGOVIA: Mexican company Canana produced the film, and its distributor, Pantelion, partnered with the makers of a smartphone application also out today that simultaneously translates a movie into Spanish. Olenka Polak is a co-founder of the myLINGO app.

OLENKA POLAK: The way it does that is it uses the microphone on the smartphone, listens to what point you are playing in the movie when in the theater, and then synchronizes that alternative language track to play at the same time.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CESAR CHAVEZ")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (As character) (Foreign language spoken).

ZARAGOVIA: For now, the app only translates into Spanish and only works with the "Cesar Chavez" film. How did you choose that movie in particular?

POLAK: Sure, so Pantelion Films is a subsidiary of Lionsgate pictures, and they're a studio that's catered towards Hispanics in the United States going to the movies, which is a huge market.

ZARAGOVIA: Hispanics make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, but last year they bought about 25 percent of movie tickets sold nationwide.

FELIPE KORZENNY: And also, when they go to the movies, it's like a family event where it's a social family event that is very ingrained in the culture.

ZARAGOVIA: That's Professor Felipe Korzenny, director of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication at Florida State University. He says about 30 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. depend on Spanish to comprehend content, and this includes people who many not even know who Cesar Chavez was.

KORZENNY: If you think about many of the new immigrants to the U.S. and those of a younger generation that may be Spanish-dominant, for them, understanding the story of Cesar Chavez can be very crucial as an educational tool.

ZARAGOVIA: Data from the Pew Research Center suggests Latinos are using mobile technology at similar, and sometimes higher, rates than other groups of Americans. Pew found that between 2009 and 2012, the share of Latino adults who say they go online increased from 64 percent to 78 percent. With those kinds of numbers, the developers of myLINGO are betting an app that combines digital use and movie-going will be a blockbuster with Hispanics. For HERE AND NOW, I'm Veronica Zaragovia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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