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Translation Possible

Using a simple filmic device, this film illustrates the disorientation we all feel on encountering a new culture, and the way we gradually learn to fit in.

A printer-friendly version of this page 11 minutes
Directed by Susanne Horizon Fränzel
Produced by Gerhard Stahl
Executive Producer - Sultana Films
Camera - Stefan Runge
Music - Budi Siebert

"An interesting interpretation of what it means to be an outsider in a community." Dr. June Y. Chu, Director, Pan Asian American Community House, University of Pennsylvania
A European tourist arrives in Shanghai, and finds herself totally disoriented in a different culture.

In Translation Possible we see the process of overcoming cultural and language barriers rendered in a surprising way, illustrated visually, without words. We marvel at the filmmaker's clever technique that so effectively illustrates people out-of-sync with their surroundings.

It is sympathetic and instructive both to the person who finds themselves in a new situation that seems incoherent, and to a person who wants to help someone seemingly overwhelmed by their new environment.

From the wonderfully creative mind of German animator/filmmaker Susanne Horizon Fränzel, maker of Flight of the Stone.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2007     Copyright Date: 2006
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-666-7

"Translation Possible offers an interesting interpretation of what it means to be an outsider in a community. Through the use of symbolic meaning, the filmmakers depict the challenges and confusion an outsider might have within a new context, but with gradual immersion it is possible to not only walk in another's shoes, but in doing so, be able to connect with others and learn new cultural nuances."
Dr. June Y. Chu, Director, Pan Asian American Community House, Asian American Studies Department, University of Pennsylvania

"The device used to illustrate how off balance we feel when plunged into a culture and language that we know nothing about was brilliant - it really captured the feeling. The resolution also captured the feeling of just letting go, going with the flow, and suddenly you feel more congruent."
Michael I. Loewy, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services, University of North Dakota

"Translation Possible provides a foundation for dialogue and insight on the realities of living in a global society. In just a few minutes, this film gets at the heart of understanding and appreciating the alienating effects of difference. The initial struggle to make sense of an alternate worldview normalizes the process of encountering a new reality- as illustrated in this short film, by suspending one's own perspective and seeing the world through the eyes of the other. The silent nature of the film allows viewers to focus on their own unconscious processes that emerge when navigating unfamiliar cultural landscapes. Through nonverbal dialectic engagement, it is recognized that translation is indeed possible."
Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, President, Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, Assistant Professor, Department of Counselor Education, University of Florida

"Translation Possible is an eloquent rendering of the experience of intercultural exploration and discovery. Proceeding wordlessly, the Germanic narrator guides the viewer through a landscape so novel to most Western eyes as to be slightly hallucinatory or surreal. There is a dreamlike atmosphere as the young blond traveler proceeds through a highly modern urban terrain bursting with machinery, people, and a rich tapestry of sound, ranging from the mechanical to the shrilling of whistles to discourse in Chinese, sometimes in the form of coordinated chanting. The visibly befuddled girl makes contact with a local boy, setting the stage for an insightful depiction of cross-cultural contact and communication. Only 11 minutes in length, Translation Possible is an engaging and useful resource for both intrepid travelers and instructors at the high school or college level."
Mark Davidheiser, Assistant Professor, Conflict Resolution and Anthropology, Nova Southeastern University

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DVDs include public performance rights.

Awards and Festivals
Message to Man Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia
Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival
Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth

Conflict Resolution
Cross-Cultural Communication
Film Studies
Media Studies
Multicultural Studies
Social Psychology

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"The film effectively illustrates how new settings can often be unsettling and disorienting...Engages the viewer in the questions of the impacts of cultural and language barriers in our increasingly globalized world. The filmmaker combined interesting visual and audio techniques to present the feelings of alienation and adaptation."
Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Educational Media Reviews Online

"In a compelling series of visual and audio cues, the film focuses on the manner in which true connections can be forged without words...Translation Possible would be a useful resource in undergraduate courses on language and communication."
Anastasia Pratt, Empire State College, Anthropology Review Database

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