Written by Erin Shanks
Whether you’ve never seen a foreign film or have just dipped your toe into the vast ocean of international cinema, it can be really intimidating to figure out what to watch next. I’m going to assume by now Amélie (Jeunet, 2001), Life is Beautiful (Bengini, 1998), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Lee, 2000), and films by Yorgos Lanthimos are all fairly established in our American mainstream culture. Instead, I’m going to focus on movies that haven’t been fully appreciated in North America.
I would like to start with the country that most people begin with on their foreign film journey: France. Cinema was first born in France, therefore its entire history is filled with so many rich and amazing films. I’m going to start with some contemporary options and work my way back from there.
Girlhood (Sciamma, 2014)
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, 1964)
The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)
Now that we have France mostly taken care of let’s do a quick overview of the rest of Europe.
Run Lola Run (Twyker, 1998)
The Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski, 1991)
Persona (Bergman, 1966)
Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)
Let’s explore the vast world of Asian film!
Paprika (Kon, 2006)
Tampopo (Itami, 1985)
House (Obayashi, 1977)
In the Mood for Love (Kar-wai, 2000)
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (Chopra, 1995)
I know this doesn’t even cover a fraction of all the great foreign cinema that is out there waiting to be seen, but hopefully these films will be great starting points on your journey. And who knows, there could be a part two coming soon!