Top Ten Foreign Language Films

1. Hero (Zhang Yimou, China, 2002) - Terrific action and a beautiful story, about three assassins and the King of Q’in. A local hero approaches the king with the weapons of three conspiring assassins that he’s killed to save the king. He then relates his story to the king, and you realize that this terrific screenplay has a few twists and turns.

2. The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954) - Lengthy action epic about seven dishonored samurai helping a tiny village defend themselves against a gang of bandits. Even though this lengthy epic begins slowly, when the action comes we are shown not only valid military techniques for defeating a larger force, but Kurosawa films with a handheld camera in the middle of a rainstorm with thundering horses throwing mud, which seems to plunge the viewer into the middle of the battle.

3. Cinema Paradiso (Guiseppe Tornatore, Italy, 1988) - Oscar-winning heart-warming Italian romantic comedy about a kid growing up under the influence of a small town’s in Sicily’s cinema projectionist, who takes the child under his wing after his father fails to return from the war.

4. Jean de Florette/Manon de Sources (Claude Berri, France, 1986) - Released together but in two parts, and shown to audiences who could sit through both parts or return the next day for Manon. This French epic is that country’s most fully realized film, about small farmers in Provence and the importance of water and greed on all their lives.

5. City of God (Fernando Merielles with Katia Lund, Brazil, 2002) - Based on a true story of a photojournalist from the ghetto, this terrific crime drama has a documentary look and feel, and tells the all-too-true story of street gangs ruling with guns in Brazil’s worst slum, built for the homeless and given the ironic title.

6. The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1970) - This Italian classic is about the based on the Alberto Moravia novel about the dangers of conforming for selfish reasons, in this case with the Italian fascist government of Mussolini. Jean-Luis Trintingant’s best cinema role, as the everyman who just wants to succeed and be normal, but who ends up going to extremes at the behest of his government, feeling that if they ask a citizen to do something, then it must be morally acceptable

7. Kolya (Jan Sverak, Czech Republic, 1996) - Oscar-winning heart warmer about an aging cellist, played by the director’s father Zdenek,who also wrote the screenplay. Formerly a concert cellist for the symphony, under Communism he is relegated to playing only funerals now, with little income as a result.

8. Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair, India, 1988) - This was Mira Nair’s first feature film after making five documentaries, and it was inspired by Bombay’s street kids, whose indomitable spirit led to this film. She cast only three professional actors in this, and selected 24 actual street kids from over 150 that she had in a special six-week workshop to develop a believable cast for this film.

9. Chungking Express/Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong, 1994) - Intended as one long film with three parts, but cut into two due to its length, this is Wong Kar-Wai’s crime action classic, a dazzling and hypnotic display of cinematic innovation. Wong loves to use hand-held cameras filming in city crowds, often with movement such as from a city bus.

10. Carmen (Carlos Suara, Spain, 1983)
- Not the opera itself, but the flamenco dance version of Bizet’s classic opera. This, to me, is the best Spanish film I’ve seen, and my favorite dance film as well. Exciting throughout, it mirrors the story of Carmen in a dance troupe rehearsing to perform their flamenco version of Bizet’s opera.


  1. I will download all of these films. I never thought that there are many beautiful films coming from different countries.


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