Students Opt for BYU International Cinema


    By: Irasema Romero

    Instead of going to the local cinema theatre to catch the latest flick, many BYU students are opting to spend weekends expanding their cultural understanding by watching internationally produced movies in the Kimball Tower.

    In an effort to assist language and film courses, the International Cinema program brings films to BYU that allow students to experience different cultures and values.

    “We are trying to give our students the opportunity to hear native speakers in those [foreign] languages,” said Travis Anderson, former director of the International Film program and professor of philosophy.

    International Films not only provide students with the opportunity to submerge in the culture being studied but are also designed to benefit students personally.

    “They are amazing films and every one of them are an invitation to get outside of ourselves,” said Scott Miller, co-director of the International Cinema program and Japanese professor. “It’s an invitation to go somewhere and see and learn new things.”

    Hollywood films differ in various ways from international and independent films.

    Anderson said most European films prioritize visual elements to communicate.

    “Most of the important information necessary for interpreting and understanding the film in the Hollywood tradition is communicated through the dialog,” he said. “Whereas in a film that patterns itself after the European tradition, it is communicated through the visual experience.”

    Anderson said even though foreign films can be easily accessed in DVD or VHS, students may not know which are the better films without the help of the International Cinema program, and thus may not obtain the same experience.

    “Movies are made to be seen on the big screen and the spectacle of the big screen is really an integral part of the experience,” he said. “Our program provides students with the opportunity to see the films the way that they were originally meant to be seen.”

    In an effort to increase the educational experience of the International Cinema program, the new co-directors, Miller and Dennis Packard, are implementing commercial theatre innovations to the showings of the films.

    Before the showing, trivia questions concerning film elements will engage the audience, Miller said.

    “We feel like the viewer’s experience of international film will be enhanced if they are given, not always just guidance and things to look for, but stimulus before they watch one of the films,” he said.

    Following the showing, students and faculty interested in in-depth discussion on the topics provoked by the film may participate in a group discourse, Packard said

    The program also includes short films before the movies and/or commentary by professors concerning topics and cinematography of film, he said.

    O’Keefe, a recent BYU graduate, served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan and said she enjoys watching films shown by the International Cinema program.

    “I think it’s one of the best things I did while at BYU,” O’Keefe said. “It has given me a different view of why movies are made.”

    Films are shown in 250 SWKT, for showing times visit the website at

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email