category: Latino issues

How To Find American Films/Shows, Accessible for your Spanish-speaking friends and family

Many Latinos who speak perfect English (perhaps it was even your first language) have friends or family who, in contrast, don’t speak Spanish fluently — or perhaps even at all. Living in the U.S. but lacking fluency in the nation’s language, these Latinos are unfortunately indirectly ostracized in a variety of ways — one of which is the incapacity to enjoy Hollywood films or shows.

Lamentable? You bet. The ability to enjoy a great series or new blockbuster film is one of the key ways in which Latinos assimilate and learn about American culture — yet that’s tough to do when it’s all in a foreign language.

As someone with a mother who doesn’t speak English (thanks Mom! if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t speak Spanish! :)), I figure there are others who may appreciate a quick guide, whether it’s for your mom, your 18-year-old cousin who just immigrated and may enjoy “The Wire,” or your abuelo who would appreciate some good westerns. So here’s a helpful guide for those of us with non-English-speaking Latino friends and family.

Finding DVD’s of TV shows and films … with Spanish subtitles or Spanish audio dubbing

Let’s start off with television shows or films that have already been released on DVD. Why should Latinos whose best language is Spanish be limited to telenovelas or only those programs created by the Spanish-language networks? Wouldn’t they also enjoy “Game of Thrones”?

First, think about your friend or family member and what kind of show or film you think he or she would appreciate. Make a list. Check Amazon.com (it almost always has the lowest price on DVD’s or blu-rays). Find the title –  scroll down and see if the series offers Spanish subtitles or audio (tip: subtitles are a far likelier option, though the Spanish audio option is becoming common among blu-rays).

In the example below, you’ll see the “Game of Thrones,” Season 1 entry on Amazon — see the Spanish subtitles option? (and it even has Spanish audio, too! Your pick!)

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IMPORTANT: If you don’t see a Spanish subtitles or Spanish audio option, check the blu-ray edition. Blu-rays are far more likely to offer subtitles and audio options in Spanish, so it may be worth investing in a blu-ray player if you don’t already have one.

If you have a Netflix or Blockbuster Online subscription service, order the DVD or blu-ray that way — or, of course, you can also purchase it directly from Amazon.

What if I don’t have a particular film or series in mind, but I have a certain genre in mind?

You can search on Amazon for DVD’s or blu-rays that have Spanish subtitles, by genre, release date, etc. The Search option is a bit hard to find so here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=241586011

In fact, if there’s a TV show or film that you are particularly keen on, use the search field just to make sure you’re not overlooking an edition that has the Spanish subtitles. This is common for highly successful films that have had various editions (e.g., Collector’s Edition, Special Edition) released, such as “Psycho.” You’ll notice some of the editions have the Spanish subtitles and some don’t — be thorough in your search and double-check you’re not missing out!

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What about seeing a film in the theatre? I’d love to take my non-English-speaking Latino friend or relative to a theatre!

Going to the movies is part of the American experience — and it’s a shame that Latinos who don’t speak English fluently cannot enjoy and benefit from this experience. Luckily, however, there are a few movie theaters across the country that offer brand-new films with Spanish captioning. For instance, AMC Theatres Mall of the Americas, in Miami, FL, is one such theatre and there are several in California, Texas, and Arizona. Cinema Latino is a terrific small chain in the Southwest, catering to Spanish speaking residents, enabling them to enjoy the latest movie-going experience. According to their website:

What can customers expect when they walk into a Cinema Latino?

Customers can expect to be greeted by a Spanish-speaking staff, purchase their favorite Hispanic concessions along with the usual popcorn fare, sit down and relax and watch a new movie either dubbed or subtitled in Spanish.

Excellent!

What about Instant streaming options? For instance, what if I buy a show or film on Amazon Instant Video, on Blockbuster on Demand, or stream it on Netflix? Is there any way to switch Spanish subtitles on with those?

Unfortunately, the offerings in the Instant-viewing areas have yet to catch up — online viewing or instant streaming options rarely offer Spanish “captions” or subtitles. That said, recently Netflix started offering some of its Instant-viewing library with Spanish subtitles or audio. Conveniently, you can search by Spanish and find what’s available in those languages. How to find it:

Go to your Netflix account.

Navigate to “Watch Instantly.”

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Click on “Subtitles & Captions”

Select “Spanish” under Choose A Language and voila! You’ll see all the Instant streaming options available in Spanish.

Hope this helps! 🙂

One last tip: If you’re inclined, feel free to email your favorite channel (re: TV shows) or your favorite film studio and encourage them to release DVD’s and blu-rays that have Spanish subtitles and Spanish audio options!

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