Film Festival Wrap-Up

The inaugural international film festival, held with the cooperative efforts of the Ross Pendergraft Library and the Department of English and World Languages, has drawn to a close. The eight films presented were chosen based on the four languages taught at Arkansas Tech University: Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. Here is a list of films in case you missed them. If these films have peaked your interest in seeing more movies in these languages—perhaps to sharpen your language-speaking skills, to watch more of a director’s movies, or to widen your cinematic viewing know-how—look no further than the RPL DVD selections. Located on the first floor of the library, the DVD collection has expanded in its popular viewing and international selections, and is available to check out to students, faculty, staff, and alumni (information on loan privileges for each patron is available here). Here are a few of my picks, in each language, of movies available in the library:


Germany gets a bad rap for being unfunny, but you may find yourself chuckling at a few of our selections, or caught up in the drama and intrigue of others. Many of the choices here relate to activism and anarchy brought about by Germany’s tumultuous times following World War II and the Cold War.

What to Do In Case of Fire? (Was tun, wenn’s brennt?): (2001) An old bomb in a building has just exploded, and six former anarchists have to scramble together to hide the evidence. Hilarity ensues as they get through this less-than-ideal reunion.

Good Bye, Lenin!: (2003) A young man’s mother goes in a coma during the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In an effort to keep her from suffering a fatal shock once she awakens, he goes to great lengths to make it seem as though nothing has changed. It’s a heartwarming mother-son flick, and one of my favorite films we viewed in a German Film seminar I took long ago.

Downfall (Der Untergang): (2004) A gripping drama capturing the final days of the Nazi regime, and one theory to Adolf Hitler’s demise. One particular scene was made infamous on YouTube as a gamer rant. Masterfully filmed, it is an uncommon perspective on World War II.

The Edukators: (2004) A combination of the anarchist film and German Heimatfilm (or nature film set in or near the Alps), The Edukators is like a German-language version of The Bling Ring, except the young people who star in the film are poor students who protest the rich. A young girl and her friends decide to kidnap a wealthy businessman after strapping her with a mountain of debt following a car wreck.



Remember watching old Don Bluth films like The Land Before Time, or any of his other whimsical but deceptively heartbreaking animated films, and having a good cry at the overbearing realness of mortality, brought to you with cutesy animal characters and songs? Luckily for you, esteemed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miazaki and others in the Studio Ghibli universe know full well that the impact of powerful, emotional storytelling doesn’t have to exclude animated films. RPL has an extensive collection of Miazaki’s films, a boon for patrons as these movies are often costly or difficult to find. If animated feels are not your thing, we also have quite a collection of films by Akira Kurosawa, whose feature Yojimbo played at one of the movie nights. Kurosawa’s movies have been a major influence on several American films; for example, the western The Magnificent Seven was inspired by Seven Samurai:

Rashômon: (1950) Following the murder of a samurai, the story of his death is told from the perspective of a bandit, the samurai’s widow, and (through a medium) the victim himself. The film causes viewers to question everyone, as unreliable narrators are everywhere.

Ran(1985) Inspired by samurai legends and and resonant with Shakespeare’s King Lear, a Japanese warlord decides to retire from his position and divide his kingdom among his three sons. If you are familiar with the Shakespeare version, you know that this does not end well. The film is widely held to be a classic and one to see before you die. If you are a fan of long shots and epic battle scenes, look no further.

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka): (1988) A young boy tries to survive in Japan with his sister in World War II. After the death of their mother, and unsure if their father will ever return from his duties as a soldier, they must endure starvation and other wartime horrors together, finding sole comfort in watching fireflies at night.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguyahime no monogatari): (2013) Based on a Japanese folk tale, the film begins with a bamboo cutter who finds a tiny girl sleeping inside the plant. The beautiful and rebellious young girl, at first the size of a finger, will remind viewers of Thumbelina and other Disney princesses. The film journal Sight and Sound wrote a review of the film last year.



Many years ago I was introduced to the works of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar while channel surfing. I immediately fell in love with the scenery of the country and the complex relationships in which he peopled these stories. RPL has an extensive collection of these films:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de “nervios”): (1988) Many of Almodóvar’s movies feature characters of various backgrounds whose love lives cause their paths to cross. In this case, a woman’s lover turns out to be the lover’s lover to another woman.

All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre): (1996) Following the death of her son, a woman travels to Barcelona to tell the father, who never knew about him.

Talk to Her (Hable con Ella): (2002) Two men are in love—one with a famous bullfighter and the other with a dancer—both of which are in a coma. The two men form a friendship, but their closeness is tested when one of them commits a terrible crime.

Bad Education (Mala educatión): (2004) The film centers on the lives of two boys who meet in a Catholic school, and their complicated emotional and sexual relationship in the span of 30 years.

Volver: (2006) Spanish for “to return,” a mother who had died years ago comes back to the land of the living to resolve unfinished business with her surviving family. The film stars Penelope Cruz, who appears in another Almodóvar film, Broken Embraces. 



French movies are more than just romantic, scenic frolics around the Eiffel Tower; in fact, French cinema is well known for its contribution to the horror genre. Here is a list of a few of my favorite titles:

Diabolique: (1955) From the Internet Movie Database (IMDB): “The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.” It is considered a classic horror masterpiece.

Delicatessen: (1991) A French horror film set in the future where a shopkeeper serves up people as meat. Not for the faint of heart and queasy of stomach.

Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé prèz de chez vous): (1992) This intersting mockumentary begins with an interview with a local serial killer, who explains, “Usually, I start the month with a postman.” The title is translated to English as “It Happened in Your Neighborhood.” Set in black and white, it is a meta-film about three directors (starring the directors!) filming a serial killer, who wind up getting their hands dirty in the process.

High Tension (Haute Tension): (2003) An excellent selection if you like your horror with a little psychoanalysis and feminist resonance. Although not available at RPL, director Alexandre Aja helped write this fairly recent horror film that plays with point of view, which you should definitely add to your Netflix queue if you enjoy the classic slasher film style of 80’s and 90’s horror.


If this list of suggestions has further whet your appetite for more international titles, use our Find It… tool to search for more! The library’s film collection continues to grow, so keep an eye out for new titles.