Cultural products, particularly films, are considered tools for exporting and diffusing the culture of one society to another. ‘International films’ (films nominated for or screened at international festivals) are a case in point. However, subtitling such films for an audience of other languages is a demanding task. This challenge may impact the qualification of the films negatively, although they may technically and aesthetically be evaluated and ranked on top. The attraction of the films screened depends largely on how successfully certain features of the films, such as the lexical gaps of cultural type (henceforth called ‘cultural gap’) are treated in English subtitling. The present study aimed at studying the cultural gaps in several Iranian films screened at international festivals. To identify cultural gaps between Persian and English, as the international and common language of subtitling international films, Darwish’s (2010) taxonomy of lexical/cultural gaps is used, and to explore how they were handled in the English subtitles, Pederson’s (2011) source-oriented, target-oriented, and neither-source-nor-target oriented subtitling strategies were employed. The results revealed that cultural substitution and generalization (paraphrasing) were two target-oriented strategies more frequently used in subtitling the cultural gaps.
culture, translation, subtitling, lexical/cultural gaps, international films, festivals