The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021 - 27

While there is no actual
chuchotage in Chuchotage, one
can certainly understand its
romantic appeal to the film's
infatuated interpreter. When
asked about his choice of title
during an interview for the
film review website Close-Up
Culture, Tóth had this to say:
" It sounds romantic,
doesn't it? So French.
Although this term exists
in English as well with
the same spelling. It also
exists in Hungarian as
Susotázs. Anyway, I didn't
hear this word until I
contacted a professional
Hungarian interpreter
while writing the script,
and she told me about it.
At first, the movie was
called 'Flirt,' but after
the shooting I realized
Chuchotage is much
better. Nobody knows it
since it's so specific to
the interpreting milieu. " 2
Why See This Film?
Chuchotage came out just
before the pandemic. Any
interpreter who has worked
in a conference setting
should want to see this film,
especially today, when we
long for the days when such
conferences were a bit more
commonplace. (Now, even
when there are conferences
where interpreters work
on-site, they do not always
share the same booth.) One
cannot help but view the
film with nostalgia.
Tóth drew on his own
limited interpreting
experience for the film. " I
did a conference interpreting
job for one day in my entire
life and it was a nightmare, "
he confessed in the Closewww.ata-chronicle.online
Up
Culture interview.
" Fortunately, only a
gentleman from Luxembourg
was listening to my French
channel. At the end of the
day, I excused myself as I
was so poor at the job. "
Tóth also conducted
meticulous research for
the film, interviewing
interpreters, Skyping with
interpreters from the
European Parliament, and
observing them work from
inside a booth during a
conference. It's clear that he
understands the potential
difficulty of conference
interpreting. " Interpreters
have to switch every 20
minutes, because your brain
is so burnt out, and it's so
intense, " he said during an
interview at the Edinburgh
Short Film Festival.3
Tóth's
attention to detail when
recreating the interpreting
environment at an
international conference is
probably why the film was so
well received by interpreters.
As Tóth has said, interpreters
are the film's biggest fans.
What the Film Gets
Right/Wrong
Premise aside, the film
accurately reflects many
aspects of conference
interpreting in Europe.
First, there is the setting: a
conference center with builtin
interpreting booths, which
actually are quite common
throughout Europe. Of
course, in the U.S., the United
Nations has marvelous
facilities, as do international
organizations in Washington,
DC. However, I know of no
major convention center
in the U.S. with permanent
interpreting facilities.
Conference interpreting
in the private sector in
the U.S. is (was) almost
overwhelmingly conducted
with portable booths.
Many interpreters will
also relate to the behindthe-scenes
activity
depicted in the film. Some
interpreters arrive well in
advance of the event to get
documentation or speak
with the organizers. Others
arrive minutes before
the event is scheduled to
start. In Chuchotage, one
interpreter wears a sports
jacket and no tie, while the
other traipses into the booth
with rain gear, a backpack,
and a tray full of food. (Food
issues are often a sore spot
for interpreters. I quickly
learned that I could eat
bananas in the booth, but I
had to get rid of the banana
peels immediately. Apples
were a no-no because the
crunching sound of biting
into an apple could often
distract your boothmate.)
An opening pan shot
shows us that the conference
portrayed in Chuchotage has
four interpreting booths,
each with two interpreters.
We can see one interpreter
putting on makeup (I
American Translators Association 27
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021

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