When Kazakh speakers went to the movies last year to catch up with the latest Avengers blockbuster, they saw Jeremy Renner playing the superhero Hawkeye on-screen, but the character's voice belonged to Bakhytzhan Zharmuhambetov.
Dubbing is nothing new for Kazakhstan. But to have glossy Hollywood fare played out in the Kazakh language is still a rarity.
Parliament is now considering legislation that would require distributors to make movies more accessible to Kazakh speakers. If a legislative bill currently making its way through the lower house of parliament is passed, new rules could be in place by January 1, requiring film distributors and cinemas to ensure all foreign-language movies released in Kazakhstan are provided with dubbing, or at least subtitles, in Kazakh.
One of the film dubbing bill’s sponsors, Shaimardan Nurumov, asserts that the legislation, if approved, would enhance public engagement among the Kazakh-speaking section of the population. Another aim is to broaden the use and understanding of Kazakh.
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Aktan Rysaliev is a pseudonym for a journalist based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.