Foreign indie films provide art on celluloid

Blair Adornato

We Americans are lazy. I will admit it. I get annoyed when I have to get up off the futon to turn up the volume because my sorry self lost the remote. And I’m still too lazy to take the time to find the thing. In most aspects of our lives we have become so accustomed to comfort that walking to the store is considered a chore and making our own dinner is a rarity. By no fault of our own, we have made this high standard of comfort our norm.

Even when it comes to movies, we’re lazy. We view that which is handed to us through advertisements because it’s there and we don’t have to search for it. We don’t venture into foreign films because it takes too much effort to read subtitles. But because of the commercial films that are so easily accessed, we miss out on an entire culture of independent and foreign films.

Thanks to the Sundance Channel available on cable, viewers have had some exposure to these avant garde films. Yet there are still so many more films that give one insight into different cultures and ways of life. Not to mention that these are some of the most cinematographically beautiful films out there today.

When so many Hollywood films have lost the true essence of their art form, these independents are right behind them picking up slack. Herein lies the difference between entertainment and visual beauty.

Independent films are not there to amaze audiences with special effects which often replace the quality of the storyline; they are there as a reminder of what film once was. They offer us an alternative to blockbuster cinema.

Thanks to such companies as Lion’s Gate Films and Landmark theatres, we are given access to these up-and-coming works of art. Luckily, independent films are getting more and more popular, making them part of our culture.

Take “City of God” for example, a Brazilian film depicting the struggles of the drug culture in the slums of Rio de Janiero. This circular film interweaves the lives of the past with the present, combining cinematographic effects with color usage in order to get its message across.

Those who take the time to appreciate the use of subtitles are rewarded through its poignant message. Even people who would never even consider seeing a film of this genre have been amazed by its sincerity and impressive use of angles, colors and imagery.

Directors such as Pedro Almodovar of Spain and Alfonso Cuarón of Mexico are foreign names in our archives, yet have mass followings in their respective countries.

Slowly these films are infiltrating our media market and getting recognition for their integrity, yet for years they have been ignored by our egocentric artistic authorities.

Penelope Cruz, who starred in Almodovar’s film “Todo Sobre mi Madre,” has made the crossover into the Hollywood circuit which has helped these films get recognized. And they have also been recognized because they are good films.

Besides connections, languages, actors and actresses, these films have a spark to them that makes them worthy of viewing. Once given the chance, they prove their integrity and value.

Most of my favorite films are foreign. I am enthralled by the insight they provide into different cultural systems set in place when most of our historical knowledge is from an American perspective. One gains not only a great cinematic experience but an insight into his own cultural values as well.

If you are interested in expanding your film experience to more than just what Hollywood has to offer, check out such films as: “Out of Africa” from Germany, documenting a young girl’s flight from Poland to Africa during the Holocaust, “Talk to Her” by Pedro Almodovar, “Amores Perros” and “Y tu Mama Tambien” by Alfonso Cuarón, or “L’APuberge Espagnole” and “L’Ultimo Bacio,” respectively from France and Italy.