he foreign film category at the annual Cannes Film Festival never makes headlines in North American media. We don’t expect 2014 to be any different.
It’s because entertainment reporters, like most North Americans have a phobia for sub-titles. It’s their loss really.
They are missing out on the best films ever made both aesthetically and in original story ideas.
I monitor film because I’m in search of just one million original films in our lifetime, an impossible mission indeed! Most of them are in world languages. Take Wong Jing’s God of Gamblers for example.
This Hong Kong product is a cinema masterpiece where Yun Fat Chow plays a suave gambler who loses his memory but not the ability to cheat at the card table. Cinematography is to die for. We all benefit if the director loves what he/she is doing.
Randa Haines’ film Dance With Me, starring Vanessa Williams and Chayanne is in English but it has a foreign film slant to it. It showed me how Cubans dance, and not what is known as Latin American dancing around the world.
I enjoyed the dancing so much I nearly went to the Cuban embassy to get a visa, so that I could visit Santiago where Rafael (Chayanne) grew up.
Cinema Paradiso, the Italian film directed by Guiseppe Tornatore is a must see for cinema buffs.
It shows us what happens in the projection room, something I never cared about until I held a film can in my hand in Toronto.
Cinema Paradiso is also about the role the movie theatre played in a village in Italy before the advent of television. It was a community hall. It was a news channel, the same way television is today, informing Italians about the world.
Cinema Paradiso is also about the friendship between ‘Toto’ (Salvatore Cascio) the little boy in the projection room and Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) the projectionist who became blind after a film caught fire.
A touching scene is when the grown-up Toto shows Alfredo that film doesn’t heat up and burn anymore. Bellisima! Bellisima!
Let’s hope this year’s Cannes will expose us to more delectable Japanese cinema. It brought us Departures, a very funny film about death. I enjoyed it because it had English sub-titles.
Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.