I’ve had several people tell me they can’t watch movies with subtitles. My brother once told me, “If I wanted to read, I would read a book.” He then went on to explain that he doesn't enjoy reading so he’ll stick to movies that don’t require him to. That comment, in a lot of ways, describes the attitude I get with most people when I recommend foreign films. I would like to take a moment to discuss the importance of foreign cinema and why it is paramount that you expand your film library to include foreign films

A Catalyst for Empathy

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to many different countries and have experienced a variety of cultures. With every new country I travel to, my perspective of this common life we live expands on many fronts. It opens my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed, enabling me to see the world through the eyes of someone other than myself. Ultimately, helping me love and care for people that I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. Travel generates empathy. Yet with all of this travel and diverse cultural experience, I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I can learn from people different than myself.

My first introduction to foreign cinema was during my undergrad at UTA. I remember being amazed at the complexity of each character, the unique stories, and the interesting shooting and editorial decisions. I discovered that foreign cinema is a window into a different culture; a window into the life of people different from me. It transported me to another part of the world.

As filmmakers, we are constantly searching for inspiration and how to tell stories in a new way. What better place to look than outside our borders? And for moviegoers, why not branch outside of your normal Hollywood blockbuster or local indie film to experience something unique? Whether you are a filmmaker or you just enjoy a good story, everyone can benefit from watching non-American movies and by expanding their film library to include foreign films.

A Few Favorites

Need help on where to start? Check out my list of some of my favorite foreign films.

Still from Seven Samurai - Foreign Film from Japan
Still from "Seven Samurai"

Seven Samurai - 1956, Japanese
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Trailer →

Still from City of God - Foreign Film from Brazil
Still from "City of God"

City of God - 2002, Brazilian
Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katie Lund
Trailer →

Still from Rules of the Game - Foreign Film from France
Still from Rules of the Game

Rules of the Game, 1939, French
Directed by Jean Renoir
Trailer →

- Josh Gallas

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