BYU International Cinema: A behind-the-scenes look

Romy Franks, office manager at the IC, holds a 35 mm film reel in the projection room.
Romy Franks, office manager at the IC, holds a 16 mm film reel in the projection room in the SWKT. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

The International Cinema at BYU is one of the university’s longest-standing traditions. It is also perhaps one of the most under-appreciated opportunities on campus.

This fall, the IC has a Western film series playing at different times during the semester. Surprisingly, not all Westerns are American. IC will show Western films from Japan and other countries.

IC also provides a learning experience for attendees prior to the film by hosting a lecture on the film playing that evening every Tuesday at 5 p.m. preceding the showing at 5:30 p.m. in 250 SWKT.

The history of the IC is intriguing. The ability of the staff to maintain the integrity of the program is reflected in their commitment and passion for art, especially in the form of film.

Beginning in the 1950s and 60s, a small group of foreign students and university professors met occasionally during the semester to watch a film in their native tongue or in a language they studied. Over time, the program grew in interest and audience size. Now, according to Romy Franks, International Cinema office manager, the IC is the world’s largest and longest-running university foreign film program.

The IC is a service sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities. Its goals include supplementing foreign language courses and experiences, enhancing humanities courses and providing opportunities for honors students to complete their requirements.

“Film is a social experience,” Franks said. “It is so fun to see everyone get into the experience. The next thing you know, people are laughing together, they’re crying together, and as they’re leaving, there is this feeling in the room. There’s this excitement, and that’s the magic of IC … the magic people miss out on when you’re sitting in your bed watching Hulu.”

The cinema shows a variety of films from different countries in many languages. If students have a suggestion for a film, the IC takes all recommendations into serious consideration. Students can submit their requests online at

“You have the opportunity to learn about different cultures at the International Cinema,” said Katie Jones, a senior studying elementary education. “It’s a fun thing to do, a good learning experience, and it’s free.”

Films at the IC are chosen and screened by all three of the cinema directors. All content deemed inappropriate is then removed using a digital program called EFR. EFR allows the integrity of the film to remain intact by editing the film like a playlist. When the film gets to sections flagged as inappropriate, it just skips right over them.

This film strip has been spliced together from two prints so the film will play continuously on the projector.
This film strip has been spliced together from two prints so the film will play continuously on the projector.

One of the emphases of the IC is to help students more fully appreciate film as a form of art.

“Art films are not meant to always entertain,” said Travis Anderson, former director of the IC and current chair of the philosophy department. “Art and film in particular can be spiritually nourishing, not just entertaining.”

For more information about the IC visit its website,, or like it on Facebook at



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