The Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron has attacked Netflix’s decision to offer Iberian Spanish subtitles for his Mexico City-set film Roma , calling it “parochial, ignorant and offensive to Spaniards themselves”.
The semi-autobiographical film, which tells the story of Cleo, a maid to a middle-class Mexican family in the 1970s, has already won a string of awards and is nominated for a best film Bafta. It is also heavily tipped as an Oscars front-runner.
But while Cuaron has thanked Netflix for its support as the film’s distributor, he has questioned the streaming giant’s wisdom in offering Iberian Spanish subtitles when the film’s Mexican-Spanish dialogue would hardly flummox viewers in Spain.
“I think it’s very offensive to the Spanish public that they’ve given ‘Roma’ Iberian Spanish subtitles,” the director told the Spanish news agency Efe.
He went further telling El Pais: “It’s parochial, ignorant and offensive to Spaniards themselves. One of the things I most enjoy is the colour and texture of other accents.”
The decision, he added, was akin to providing non-Iberian Spanish subtitles for a Pedro Almodovar film.
Cuaron’s concerns echoed those expressed last month by the Mexican writer Jordi Soler.
The author called it “paternalistic, offensive and profoundly provincial”, and questioned the need to change perfectly obvious second-person plurals for a peninsular Spanish audience.
“To top it all off,” he wrote on Twitter, “when they say ‘mama’ [mum], the subtitles say ‘madre’ [mother].”
On a more technical level, El Pais’s report also quibbled over the decision to change the Mexican chocolate snack gansito to the Spanish ganchito, which is a savoury relative of the Wotsit.