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Call for articles – Mise au Point (Journal of the AFECCAV – Association française des enseignants-chercheurs en cinéma et audiovisuel)

Minority languages, production and circulation of films and series: issues, audiences, contestation of hegemonies and emancipatory claims

Since the beginning of the cinematograph developed by the Lumière brothers, a device that was used to shoot and to project films, films circulated beyond the borders of the countries in which they were made, and they were shot by operators coming from remote places. Even though the production of knowledge on film has consistently considered film as conducive to the construction of national identities, cinema has always been fundamentally transnational. The circulation of films has been subject to power relations generating tremendously unequal access in terms of production as well as consumption of images. Talkies, which considerably increased production costs, obviously reconfigured this circulation, since geopolitics and the languages used kept redrawing the routes taken to reach potential audiences as well as delineated the boundaries of their potential reception. Mise au Point devoted an issue to the question of language in the construction of European cinemas, noting that the latter "implies linguistic choices at all levels (production, shooting, distribution, reception)". In that issue, Martin Barnier examined the way in which multilingual films have been a means of contesting the hegemony of Hollywood films. While colonial empires had a considerable impact on the languages in which films circulated in colonized countries – Hollywood films shown in some Tunisian cinemas are still dubbed in French today – Egyptian cinema helped loosen that stranglehold on colonized peoples and focus on narratives in a language that had become the vehicle of a common identity and common values. But audiences for Egyptian films extended beyond Arabic-speaking countries to West Africa, as the films drew on common cultural, religious, and musical references (Goerg 2015). The same is true of Hindi films purchased at a lower cost by cinema operators in Morocco in the 1950s-1970s (Higbee et al. 2020). The question of the languages in which films are produced and circulated cannot be separated from other economic, cultural, religious, political, and other considerations.

This new issue of Mise au Point intends to raise the question of minority languages and the way they intervene in and affect the production and circulation of films and television/web series for identity purposes, and to question the relationships of power and domination that they could subvert and/or contest, or on the contrary reproduce and/or reinforce. Digital technology has made film production and filmmaking accessible to a larger number of people, thus enabling the entry of new agents in the film sector, the emergence of new modes of production, and the development of new purposes. This wider access suggests that very different ambitions and language choices can be conceived as a means to reflect a reality, or as the refusal or contestation of an authority, of national communities and/or of their perimeters. The number of series and films produced in the world has thus increased considerably, as the databases show, even if some institutions, such as Unesco, have for a long time omitted the Ghanaian and Nigerian films on the controversial ground that films are made and circulated on video.

How can we understand the relationships today between the production and circulation of films and series and the languages used in them? We would like to reflect on a) minority languages as a place where one can identify claims or contestations of hegemonies; b) the ways in which producers and filmmakers have been able to appropriate, promote and fruitfully use these minority languages; c) the ways in which audiences have in turn reclaimed these films and series, whether they master these languages or not; d) the historical, political, economic and cultural stakes involved in the rallying or decentering facilitated by films and series in minority languages

Suggested topics and lines of thought for this issue, which are not exclusive

I – Minority languages in screenplays and on film sets: In which languages are screenplays being written, in which languages are series and films being shot? What about oral and unwritten languages? In Morocco, Tamazight can be written in a newly created alphabet, Tifinagh, but screenplays are still written in French. Tunisian darija is often not the language in which screenplays are written: how does the use of French in screenwriting affect the conception of a film, its preparation and its shooting? Do international co-productions think through language issues, and if so, how do they deal with minority languages? What happens to the minority language of the film or series in a transnational creative team of technicians? In what languages do crews interact? How does the use of spoken or written minority languages transform the practices and relationships between the production, the crew, the actors and actresses? When, by whom and how are minority languages used? How does the mastery (or lack of mastery) of such a language impact relationships of power and domination?

II - Minority languages and multilingual countries: The European Union, through its European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, for example, leaves to each country the responsibility to designate its minority and/or regional languages. Are minority languages in the cinema in certain countries subject to specific legislation or regulation? How does the question of languages interfere with the practices of the film and television industries? Which films are shot in which languages and aimed at which audiences? How can one reflect on the shift from Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, etc., to English or vice versa in Nigerian audiovisual production? In Morocco, Tamazight is an official language and films are made in different dialects of Berber languages (Tarifit, Chleuh, etc.). What about the eleven official languages in South Africa, Yiddish in Polish films from the 1930s, films shot in Inuktikut in Canada, or the rare films shot in Esperanto, etc.? How does the use of such languages play into identity politics?

III - How do films using minority languages reach audiences? What audiences, for example, can a film made in Mapuche find in Chile? How do audiences appropriate or re-appropriate these films or series, with or without understanding the languages? To what extent does the reception of these films bring together or divide audiences around issues of identity, power or domination? What collaborative practices do audiences deploy to facilitate the circulation of films or series in minority languages and/or the expression of identity claims related to them?

IV – How do minority language productions circulate through commercial or other circuits, television broadcasting channels, streaming platforms, etc.? What technical devices (accessibility techniques) accompany the circulation of series or films produced in minority languages? What linguistic devices can smooth out, or even obscure, the issues of minority languages? How are Cantonese or Taiwanese signaled and identifiable for transnational audiences in the Chinese-speaking films that circulate in Europe? Which parts of the received film are truncated? Minority language films or series (in Nigeria or the Moroccan Rif, for example) had created their own more or less official production and circulation circuits on video before the digital revolution. To what extent and how have subscription-based streaming services reconfigured circulation spaces, target audiences and receptions? How do Netflix or Canal+ Africa include or exclude minority languages in their selection of Nigerian series or films? What criteria govern such choices? Do industry practices anticipate and attempt to contain the potential alienating effects of spoken minority languages -- so as not to jeopardize the circulation of a film to the audiences it may reach? Conversely, to what extent can minority languages become a promotional argument for a film?

V - "Francophone" network and world cinema.
How does the francophone label become more and more problematic in this new linguistic ecology of Southern cinematographic productions? What are the political and global stakes of the use of minority languages in transnational cinema and more broadly in today's audiovisual production?

Timetable for the completion of the issue

Send an abstract in French or English (400 words), a short bibliography, as well as a 120-word biography, to:

Deadline for submission of proposals: March 15, 2023

Acceptance/rejection notification: Beginning of April 2023

Article submission: June 30, 2023

Peer reviews and revisions

On-line publication of the issue planned for 2024

Issue edited by:

Patricia Caillé (University of Strasbourg)

Florence Martin (Goucher College, Baltimore)


Agirre Katixa, “Streaming Minority Languages: The Case of Basque Language Cinema on Netflix”, Communication & Society, vol. 34, n 3, 2021, p. 103-115.

Barnier Martin, « Versions multiples et langues en Europe », Mise au point [En ligne], nᵒ5 (2013), mis en ligne le 01 avril 2013, consulté le 11 octobre 2022. URL :

Bertrand, Karine. « L’inuktikut et le corps vocal dans le cinéma inuk : la décolonisation par le poème cinématographique », TranscUlturAl : A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies. Vol. 10. No 1 (2018) : 29-44.

Cormack Mike,Minority languages and television programming policy”, International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol. 5; n 2, 1999; p. 293-313.

Goerg Odile, Fantômas sous les tropiques. Aller au cinéma en Afrique coloniale, Paris, Vendémiaire, 2015.

King Gemma, Decentring France. Multilingualism and Power in Contemporary French Cinema. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2017.

Leperlier Henry, “Translation and Distortion of Linguistic Identities in Sinophone Cinema. Diverging images of the “Other””, Jennifer Jennifer K. Dick and Stephanie Schwerter (ed.), Transmissibility and Cultural Transfer. Dimensions of Translation in the Humanities, New York, Columbia University Press, 2012, p. 137-151.

Ledo Andión, M. et al., “European cinema in the languages of stateless and small nations”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, n 71, 2016, p. 309-331.

Manias-Muñoz, Miren, “The Impact of a Legal Framework on National Film Industry: An Approach to Basque-Language Cinema (December 17, 2016)”. Oñati Socio-Legal Series, vol. 6, nᵒ 5, 2016,

Martens, Cheryl, Cristina Venegas, Etsa Franklin Salvio Sharupi Tapuy, eds. Digital Activism, Community Media, and Sustainable Communication in South America. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

Martínez-Garrido, Gemma. “Minority Languages and Film Subtitling : An Empirical Study Based on the Translation of Culture-bound Elements from Catalan into English.” (2014).

Morgado Paula, « Cinéma amérindien brésilien et utilisation du cyberspace. Pour qui ? » Anthrovision, vol. 2, nᵒ 2 ; 2014), consulté le 13 octobre 2022. URL :

Pace Richard, From Filmmaker Warriors to Flash Drive Shammans: Indigenous Media Production and Engagement in Latin America, Nashville, Vanderbilt University Press, 2018.

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