17 Essential Foreign Films To Add To Your Watchlist

Take a break from streaming Pretty Little Liars and check out these 17 cinematic masterpieces. This list of foreign films helmed from auteurs including Pedro Almodóvar, Roberto Benigni, Ang Lee, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Jean-Luc Godard and more will pepper your watchlist with smart, sexy, original and thought-provoking cinema from around the world.

The first twelve films on this list were selected for Fluent City’s 2015 foreign film series at Videology. If you are based in NY, all twelve titles can be rented on DVD from Videology located at 308 Bedford Avenue. We have also broken down where to find these titles online. Scroll to the bottom to find out what films we have slated for 2016, which are all brand-new restorations directly from the distributors.

Motorcycle Diaries (Fluent City’s January Pick)

Original Language: Spanish

Summary: On a break before his last semester of medical school, Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Gael García Bernal) travels with his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna) from Brazil to Peru by motorcycle. The two men soon witness the great disparities in South America, encountering poor peasants and observing the exploitation of labor by wealthy industrialists. When they reach a leper colony in Peru, Ernesto’s values have changed so much that he sides with the sufferers, forgetting his own comfort.

**Where to find it: **While this film is not currently available for legal streaming online, you can rent it from Videology on DVD.

Why you should watch it: “This film is an entertaining and accurate portrayal of the formative youth of a revolutionary icon” as reviewed by The Guardian.

Amélie (Fluent City’s February Pick)

**Original Language: **French

**Summary: **Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

**Where to find it: **Currently free on Netflix or available for $2.99 on Google Play.

**Why you should watch it: **This French rom-com is whimsical and heartwarming. The New York Times ranked it as one of the best 1,000 movies ever made. It is rare for a romantic comedy to be celebrated, and *Amélie *was nominated for five Academy Awards.

***Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ***(Fluent City’s March Pick)

**Original Language: **Mandarin

Summary: In 19th century Qing Dynasty China, a warrior (Chow Yun-Fat) gives his sword, Green Destiny, to his lover (Michelle Yeoh) to deliver to safe keeping, but it is stolen, and the chase is on to find it.

**Where to find it: **Currently available on Starz and Encore and DVD available through Amazon. Digital rental available through Vudu and Sony Entertainment.

Why you should watch it: This film is the highest grossing foreign-language film in American history. The film won over 40 awards and has been praised for its martial arts sequences, story, direction, musical score and cinematography.

Life is Beautiful (Fluent City’s April Pick)

**Original Language: **German and Italian

Summary: When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son.

**Where to find it: **Purchase available through Amazon.

Why you should watch it: This Academy-award winning film may be the only comedy about the Holocaust worth watching.

Volver (Fluent City’s May Pick)

Original Language: Spanish

Summary: After her death, a mother returns to her home town in order to fix the situations she couldn’t resolve during her life.

**Where to find it: **Available for rental through iTunes.

Why you should watch it:Fluent City‘s film programmer Mandy says this was her favorite foreign film screened during the 2015 film picks. For this incredible performance, Penélope Cruz was the first Spanish actress to ever be nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

A Very Long Engagement (Fluent City’s June Pick)

Original Language: French

Summary: Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is told that her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) has been killed in World War I. She refuses to believe this, however, and begins trying to find out what actually happened on the battlefield the night he was supposedly killed.

**Where to find it: **Available for rental through iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and Sony Entertainment.

Why you should watch it: This smart film shows Marion Cotillard’s serious side. She won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

City of God (Fluent City’s July Pick)

Original Language: Portuguese

Summary: In the poverty-stricken favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s, two young men choose different paths.

**Where to find it: **Available for rental through Google Play.

Why you should watch it: This film is breathtaking, terrifying and churns with furious energy. A smart and thought-provoking depiction of gang violence.

Talk to Her (Fluent City’s August Pick)

Original Language: Spanish

Summary: Male nurse Benigno (Javier Cámara) becomes infatuated with a complete stranger when he watches dancer Alicia (Leonor Watling) practicing from the anonymity of his apartment. After being injured in a car accident, Alicia is brought to a nearby hospital, where Benigno serendipitously happens to be her caregiver.

**Where to find it: **Available for rental through Apple, Google Play and Vudu. Also streaming on Encore.

Why you should watch it: The film explores the persistence of love beyond loss in a way that is rarely discussed.

The Class (Fluent City’s September Pick)

Original Language: French

Summary: A language and literature teacher in an inner-city Paris school encounters his share of problem students, teen violence, ethnic tensions between classmates and education barriers within the group, all of which test his patience and — more importantly — his resolve as an educator.

**Where to find it: **Available for rental through iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and Sony Entertainment.

Why you should watch it: The film received the Palme d’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, making it the first French film to do so since 1987. It is a super truthful account of teaching in inner-city schools and based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.

The Orphanage(Fluent City’s October Pick)

Original Language: Spanish

Summary: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage. She convinces her husband to buy the place and help her convert it into a home for sick children. One day, her own adopted son, Simón (Roger Príncep), disappears. Grief-stricken Laura believes she hears spirits, who may or may not be trying to help her find the boy.

**Where to find it: **While this film is not currently available for legal streaming online, you can rent it from Videology on DVD.

Why you should watch it: “Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood” – Rotten Tomatoes

La Haine (Fluent City’s November Pick)

**Original Language: **French

Summary: The film depicts 19 consecutive hours in the lives of three friends living in an impoverished multi-ethnic French housing project in the suburbs of Paris, in the aftermath of a riot.

**Where to find it: **While this film is not currently available for legal streaming online, you can rent it from Videology on DVD.

Why you should watch it: This film is a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at racial and cultural tensions. With all the stories about cops circulating Facebook, this is a very on point film.

Y Tu Mamá También (Fluent City’s December Pick)

**Original Language: **Spanish

Summary: In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.

**Where to find it: **Available for purchase through iTunes.

Why you should watch it: This sexy film caused a censorship controversy. It was also the biggest box office opening in Mexico’s history.

Our film screenings at Videology in Brooklyn are always on the first Thursday of the month at 7pm. Here are the films we have slated for 2016, which are all brand-new restorations directly from the distributors:

January 7 – Tristana (1970)
Dir. Luis Bunuel
Spanish-language film with subtitles

Tristana stars Catherine Deneuve as an orphaned young woman who becomes the ward of a nobleman (Fernando Rey) who seduces her. She then leaves him for an artist (Franco Nero), but returns to her aging benefactor and calculatingly hastens his demise. Filmed in Toledo, Spain, it was released in 1970 after protracted skirmishes with censors in Generalissimo Franco’s government. Restored by Cohen Film Collection in conjunction with Filmoteca Española, Madrid to its original glory not seen since its original release in 1970.

February 4 – Loulou (1980)
Dir. Maurice Pialat
French-language film with subtitles

Young bourgeois Nelly (Isabelle Huppert) is married to her boss André (Guy Marchand), whose domineering personality she finds suffocating. Sick of André’s jealousy and possessiveness, Nelly has a fling with Loulou (Gérard Depardieu), a petty crook. Soon she leaves her stunned husband and moves in with the street thug. Her social respectability deteriorates as she transitions from one world to another, discovering in the process that neither really offers any sort of lasting fulfillment.

March 3 – The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972)
Dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
German-language film with subtitles

This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a true Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast.

April 7 – Hail Mary (1980)
Dir. Jean-Luc Godard
French-language film with subtitles

Denounced by the Pope and banned and boycotted worldwide, this surprisingly serene and lyrical work translates the Virgin Birth into tangible contemporary terms, with Mary as a teenage basketball-playing gas-station attendant who receives the Annunciation by jetliner. Mary is a beautiful yet ordinary teenager who vows to maintain her chastity. Following a warning from an angel, a confused and innocent Mary unexpectedly falls pregnant and is forced to wed her taxi-driving boyfriend Joseph. He, in turn, must love his virgin bride from a distance, revering her without touching her. Forced to face a shocking reality, Mary and Joseph along with their family and friends must struggle to cope as the provocative theme unfolds. Hail Mary is a sensational and bold work from French master director Jean-Luc Godard which touched off an uproar of protest heard around the world.

May 5 – Graduate First (1978)
Dir. Maurice Pialat
French-language film with subtitles

Conceived as a follow-up to *Naked Childhood*, Pialat’s fourth film looks at life among a group of working-class teenage boys and girls in the suburbs of a poor mining town. Less a plot-driven narrative than a series of vignettes, *Graduate First* endeavors to capture the texture and rhythm of the lives depicted, their listless casual sex and drug use, petty behavior, and grudging acceptance of their proscribed social roles. The least-screened of Pialat’s works, *Graduate First* anticipates future pieces of 1970s social archaeology like Oliver Assayas’s *Cold Water* and Richard Linklater’s *Dazed and Confused*.

Want to hear about our 2016 screenings the minute the tickets go on sale?

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