‘Being George Clooney’ isn’t Easy, just ask These Guys

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Being George Clooney PosterBeing George Clooney is a documentary written and directed by Paul Mariano and screens twice at the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF).

Mariano takes his audience into the world of voice acting and dubbing for the international market allowing us to meet the various actors who become George Clooney. From French to Hindi to Turkish, we are shown the lives of these fascinating voice actors that translate Clooney’s lines to their native tongue and becoming his designated voice.

We are also introduced to producers, directors and many others that have turned dubbing into a multi-billion dollar industry.

“What is a star? When they come on the screen, it doesn’t matter who else is on that screen, you look over and George Clooney has it,” said John Ptak, a film producer.

There are fourteen men around the world who dub Clooney into Italian, Brazilian-Portugese, German as well as the other languages listed above. The significance of this is that the international market has tripled in the past decade, requiring films to be converted into the lingua franca of those regions, increasing box office numbers by 70 percent internationally.

“Who you cast to dub in a particular movie, that is not a throwaway anymore, that could be as important to that movie as the original casting of the actor,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a marketing analyst and film executive.

Throughout the documentary we are introduced to the many voices of George Clooney, Italy’s Francesco Pannofino (who’s wife, Emanuela Rossi dubs Michelle Pfeiffer), France’s Samuel Labarthe, Germany’s Martin Umbach and Detlef Beirstedt, Brazil’s Dr. Marco Antonio Costa MD, Turkey’s Tamer Karadagli, India’s Shaktee Singh and others that have become the recognized voice of the American superstar.

Andre Sogliuzzo professes that growing up in Italy there is a great affinity for voice actors. In the Italian version of the Academy Awards there are categories for best voice actors, best voice directors and best dubbing. He said that voice acting is considered just as important as the on screen actor themselves.

“Italians don’t want to read subtitles, they want to to hear the film in Italian and enjoy the movie,” said Sogliuzzo.

One thing that is absolutely unheard in the United States is that of Turkish actor Karadagli, an extremely popular actor in the nation that links Europe to Asia. Karadagli has dubbed Clooney for the past 15 years and all for free, simply because he is a fan of the American actor’s films and Turks want to hear his performance.

There are so many fascinating things going in in this documentary that I cannot spoil them all for you, but one story in particular regarding Dr. Costa was when dubbing Clooney for ER in Brazil he was allowed to correct the dialogue using accurate medical terminology.

The documentary touches on some of the injustices in the dubbing community like how in India and Germany the voice actors are not given credit for their performances or that in France, Labarthe was given scale for dubbing Liam Neeson in Star Wars and was told it was an honor to dub the character.

Being George Clooney has only one main issue, I wished the editors introduced you to who these actors were earlier in the film. Some of the actors were identified quickly, but others I had to wait a minimum of 20 minutes to learn their names. Beyond that, there are no quarrels with this 76 minute documentary, which is nothing short of fascinating.

Mariano indirectly touches on Thomas L. Friedman’s The World is Flat theory in that the world has become culturally and economically blended. The world is getting smaller and this microcosm can be seen in and heard through the world of dubbing over films.

Being George Clooney screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival:

Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 6 p.m.
The Triangle
1870 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 11:15 a.m. 
Fashion Island Cinema
999 Newport Center Dr.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Being George Clooney
  • Documentary Rating
4.5

The Verdict

Being George Clooney is a fascinating look into how films are dubbed for an international audience and the level of talent it takes for voice actors to become someone else.

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