The foreign movie collection is one of those oft-neglected gems of the library. Most titles are lucky to get checked out more than once or twice a year. This is a shame, because there’s so much cool stuff sitting on those shelves!
Let me try to describe the scope of the foreign movie collection. Here at the Deerfield Public Library we have titles in over 40 languages. The biggest chunk of the collection is in French, but we also have movies in languages like Kurdish, Mongolian, and Ukrainian Sign Language. There are so many different genres represented, too: action, comedy, crime drama, historical epics, monster movies, and so forth. It’s not just art house fare! You’ll even find a Christmas horror flick: the Finnish oddity Rare Exports.
One of the things I love about foreign films is that they allow you to explore the world from your couch. You can view beautiful landscapes and striking cityscapes, and you can learn about cultural customs that you’d rarely see in Hollywood films. Some of the most intriguing parts of these movies are the little details. For example, I never thought to wonder what a Hebrew word processing program would look like, but thanks to watching Footnote, now I know!
While highlighting cultural differences, foreign movies also reveal that, deep down, we’re not so different after all. These films can turn the nameless “others” of faraway lands into real people with their own dreams, passions, and anxieties. I think the noblest goal of a library is to foster empathy for people outside of our everyday experiences. Foreign movies can play their own small part in helping to achieve that goal.
I invite everyone to come take a look at our foreign movie collection. We have both DVDs and Blu-Rays, organized according to language. The vast majority of these movies have English subtitles, and some also have dubbed English audio tracks. So, even if you don’t understand the languages, don’t be afraid to check them out!