Do you want that film in Twi or Quecha, sir?

My friend Michael Smolens has just gone live with the beta site of his new project, dotSub. It’s a fascinating idea: provide Web-based tools to enable anyone to subtitle a film into any language. Michael and his colleagues have been motivated by two ideas. First, a profound belief that the stories of every culture should be available in every other one. Second, the recognition that most films never reach most cultures because of language barriers.

Although the beta site has a small catalogue of films at the moment, the subtitling tools are well developed. A neat demo lets you play translator for the day. For those with real translation skills, if they wanted to make a film accessible to native Quecha speakers in Bolivia, or to Twi speakers in Ghana, dotSub makes it possible.

Why would a filmmaker lodge her or his film in dotSub? It gives them access to markets that conventional subtitling and distribution arrangements could never approach. If you believe in the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, dotSub is a great idea.

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