Travel the world through BYU’s International Cinema


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 This slideshow shows a weekly list of the films shown at BYU’s International Cinema in 250 SWKT.

BYU’s International Cinema may not be as crowded as the dollar theater on a Friday night, but the films shown there may not be available otherwise and enrich education.

The International Cinema is sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities and plays films that come from a variety of places around the world. Foreign films allow students to both hear native speakers and to experience the art and culture of the countries in which those languages are spoken.

The cinema shows films in a variety of languages including German, Spanish, French, Russian and Chinese. The cinema also shares a few films from lesser-known languages.

Anna Finneran, a student who served her mission in Paris, said she feels like the films open her up to other cultures. “It is important to me because if I go to these other countries, I’ll have a bit more insight into their culture, and I feel as if I will be able to relate to them better,” Finneran said.

BYU began occasionally showing foreign films in the 1950s. Over the span of a few years, the university put together its International Film Festival. It was not until 1975 that the International Cinema was established in its present form by a humanities professor named Don Marshall. Now three films are shown each week throughout the entire semester in room 250 of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

International Cinema Director Dennis Cutchins said that the films shown in the International Cinema are better than films coming out of Hollywood “in terms of the depth of the film, the kinds of questions they are asking, the intellectual value of the film, the cinematography and the way that it’s put together.”

Cutchins promised that all of the films shown are the best of the best. They have won awards at film festivals, been listed on top favorite films from around the world and have stood the test of time. The artistic value can be seen by the fact that the Honors program accepts all International Cinema films as part of the Great Works program. Some films are edited partially to make them more acceptable to a BYU audience.

Cutchins said they are trying to show films that students don’t get a chance to see elsewhere. He pointed out that even for those who are diligent with their Netflix accounts, it would be difficult to figure out which films are best. The cinema can help point out the most monumental films and offers director’s picks on its website.

The International Cinema features different film series throughout the semester, such as Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Cutchins had a few particular favorites from this semester’s lineup. “Rashomon,” a Japanese film from 1950, played Jan. 13-17 as part of a Samurai Series. In this psychological thriller, four people give their different accounts of the same crime. The film investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice.

“Born Into Brothels” will play Jan. 20–24. This movie was produced in 2004 and is based on a true story about a group of young children in India who are being abused in Calcutta’s red light district. A New York photographer helps them to escape and teaches them a new way of life. The film portrays the courage of those willing to change their own lives.

Cutchins also suggested some specific films that will be shown in the upcoming weeks. These include “The Light Thief,” “Romantics Anonymous,” “The Land of Many Palaces,” “Babette’s Feast” and  “Kirschbuten-Hanami.”

All film descriptions, including the showing times, can be found on BYU International Cinema’s website,, and on its Facebook page. Printed weekly schedules are available in the hallway of the SWKT on the second floor. These films are always free and shown during the week as well as on weekends.

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