Foreign Film February


Many years ago, not long after I had moved to Texas (don’t worry, I didn’t stay in that state long :)), I was invited to someone’s house for food and games. We played this game where everybody sat in a circle and this little computer tablet was passed around. The tablet displayed a word and whenever you were handed the tablet you had to try and get anybody else to say that word. The trick was you weren’t allowed to say it yourself. So you had to describe the word or say something that would remind others of what that word was. It was a bit like that old TV gameshow The $25,000 pyramid if you remember that. Once your word was guessed then you passed the tablet to the person next to you and they had to do a different word. There was a timer, and when that timer went off, whoever was holding the tablet was out.

It was a fun game. One of my words was “fin”. My mind immediately registered it as the French word for “end.” Except I didn’t actually know it was a French word, I just knew it was used at the end of a lot of the foreign language films I liked to watch. I spent several minutes trying to explain that it was the word you’d see at the end of a foreign film, before I realized that the easier way to do it was to talk about a fish.

I don’t remember the first foreign film I watched (and yes, I know “foreign film” doesn’t mean movies not in English to large portions of the world, but I’m a dumb American and that’s the way I use it in this context). I was probably a teenager as my parents weren’t exactly the type of people to watch movies in a language they didn’t speak. If I were to guess I’d say it was probably something on Bravo, the cable TV station. They used to show lots of cool art house movies before becoming nothing but reality TV fashion shows.

If I’m being honest, I started watching them because European arthouse films were a lot more relaxed with sex and nudity than American films were at the time, at least the ones my parent’s let me watch. Or maybe Bravo was a lot more willing to show those things than other basic cable channels were, at least back then anyhow. As a pubescent boy a naked breast on television was quite exciting. This was long before the internet made nudity so easily accessible to young boys, you understand.

But the thing is, I found I rather liked those films outside of the excitement that overcame my own budding sexuality. They were different – exotic even – and widely interesting. As I grew as a cinephile I learned to watch more and more films with subtitles.

A few years ago I latched onto the idea of Foreign Film February and here we are. I’ve decided not to come up with a list of films I want to watch this month. Honestly, I just forgot about it until last night and I was too tired to come up with a list. But foreign language films are also really easy to find on most streaming services and in my own library. Much like 31 Days of Horror and Noirvember, I’ll try to write about as many foreign films as I can this month. I hope you enjoy.

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