Diving into Foreign Films at Buley Library


Melissa Nuñez – General Assignment Reporter

On the first floor inside the back of the Hilton C. Buley Library, Torrey Proto, junior history major, can be spotted once or twice a week scouring the aisles, looking for new foreign films to catch his eye.

Proto said foreign films provide a distinctive viewing experience that is unmatched by American films and provide viewers with the ability to broaden their horizons culturally.

“I think you’re more apt to find more unique experiences that you’re not going to get from most mainstream American films,” said Proto. “A lot of foreign films come at things from a different angle. The culture is an important aspect as well, knowing a little bit about the culture is very important for completely grasping these films.”

Proto said while he appreciates movies from every region, he particularly enjoys Asian films.  

“I’m into anything but I like Asian Films a lot, I always have. A Hong Kong director named Wong Kar-Wai put out a lot of films that have been really well received. He is a very lyrical director and the films are very complex.”

According to the website AllMovie, through films like “Chungking Express” and cinematic techniques such as warped close-ups, Kar-Wai brought an uncommon, artistic element to Hong Kong’s action films.

Luke Eilderts, Ph.D., assistant French professor, said when he developed a special topics course that focused on francophone culture through French film, the library provided his students with many of the movies needed for his class.

“Our library has a pretty good selection,” said Eilderts. “I had to get a couple of things, but they did have quite a few movies that we put on reserve at the library so that students could see them. We actually did use the library pretty heavily that semester throughout that course.”

Eilderts said utilizing foreign films when studying a language is exciting for students because they can grasp concepts visually that may be otherwise lost through a textbook.

“I think that is always very exciting for students. You can delve into very complex issues because these issues are being represented visually,” said Eilderts. “I think what students then quickly realize is that it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any easier.”

David Feinmark, acquisitions and collection development librarian, said students browsing the foreign films section at the library will find themselves with plenty to choose from. The library features a variety of genres as well as foreign films from countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, countries in Asia, China, Japan, South America, and Africa.

Feinmark said for anyone looking to develop an interest in foreign films, he recommends the classics, although the library ensures that newer commercialized films are available to them as well.

“I might say the French New Wave from the 1950’s, or [Vittorio] De Sica, or [Akira] Kurosawa from Japan, as a basis for looking at foreign films those are the ones that you want to watch,” said Feinmark. “We do make a point of purchasing the Academy Award Best Foreign Film each year, so that has a tendency to not be the most artistic, but the most commercial.”

According to the website Criterion, the French New Wave was established by young directors whose experimental, intrepid techniques revamped earlier cinematic styles and features titles such as Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” as well as François Truffaut’s “Shoot the Piano Player.”

Eilderts said students who have written off foreign films without trying them are depriving themselves of the valuable experience a world like ours demands.

“If you consistently return to the things you know then you’re not really growing. It’s one thing right off the bat say, ‘I’m not really a fan of this type of movie.’ Have that experience and then make that choice, because in today’s world you want to be flexible and you want to be exposed to a hundred different things.”

Photo Credit: Dylan Haviland – Arts & Entertainment Editor 

Caption: Torrey Proto, junior history major, looking through the film section at the Buley Library.

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