Four Latin Americans win Oscar for Making Sound a Character

Carolina Santana, from Venezuela, shares with the Mexicans Carlos Cortes, Michelle Couttolenc and Jaime Baksh the award for best sound, for ‘The sound of silence

The film The Sound of Silence, whose sound was edited and mixed by a Venezuelan and three Mexicans, won the Oscar for best sound on Sunday night. It is a unique film for this category, because it deals with a musician who loses his hearing and goes deaf overnight. Sound and silence, in other words, were two main characters, and the four Latin Americans – Venezuelan Carolina Santana and Mexicans Carlos Cortes, Michelle Couttolenc, and Jaime Baksh – managed to bring both to life.

The sound of silence won over A supreme voice of the blues, the other favorite in the same category, and the others nominated in this 93rd edition of the Oscars: Mank, Meu pai and Minari. The four professionals edited and mixed this film in two studios in Mexico, Astro XL and Splendor Omnia, and managed to simulate hearing loss, evoke the memory that remains of noise when living in silence, and represent how artificial implants work. for those who want to recover their ear.

“The fact of putting myself in the main character’s situation continues to seem impressive to me, it generates a shock,” Carlos Cortes recently told EL PAIS, speaking about how the technicians and sound editors imagined the experience of losing the main meaning with the which they work daily. “Indeed, in The Sound of Silence there is much talk that the theme is sound and hearing loss. But in reality, the real end of the film has to do with what happens when you lose something, ”said Jaime Baksh. “The film speaks of acceptance.”

Santana is in Paris, but the three Mexican professionals were on the Oscar stage together with Phillip Bladh (sound producer, who took charge of the direct recording of the sound, such as the dialogues), and, from France, Nicolas Becker, the sound designer, thanked the figurine.

“Thank you to the academy for recognizing this wonderful film,” said Becker, highlighting the work of the director, the actors, the publisher and the three mixing technicians, among others. “Fellini once said that, more than styles and techniques, what remains of the films is their human vitality. If someone appreciates it, it becomes mysterious and vibrant. I received so much care and attention in The Sound of Silence, so much energy, that we think that was why he was so well received by the public. Thank you very much.”

Jaime Baksh told EL PAIS that editing and mixing the sound in Mexico, and not in the United States, was one of the great successes of the film, a decision in which Becket played a great role. “In the United States, a sound designer is someone who makes certain special sounds, combines several different sounds to create a new one, and for that reason there was even a copyright involved. A film there may have 10 sound designers, ”explained Baksh. “But here, on the other side of the Rio Grande, the designer becomes the great guru of the subject. Nicolás Becker does not consider himself as a draftsman, but as a sound artist, and this is a big difference. Nicolás looks more for the emotional part of the sounds, how they make things feel. ”

The four professionals said that after Baksh had organized all the sounds he wanted in the film, the mixing technicians and the sound editor in Mexico had great freedom of experimentation in order to create the perfect sounds (and the silences). “Normally, you would have a director who is chasing you, or a designer who won’t let you do anything other than what he says you need to do. In this case it was: ‘There are the onion, the tomato and such, now what are you going to cook?’. Obviously the ingredients they used were not to make a souffle, they were to make a duck a l’orange ”, described Baksh.