Foreign film series

A chance to view films from all over the world

Critically acclaimed foreign films are being screened in Big Rapids, but they won’t be found at the local theater.

Artworks’ twelfth foreign film series is under way. The foreign film series offers an array of films once a month starting October 12 and running until April 12 at Big Rapids City Hall. Films air on Saturday nights and come from many countries, including Italy, Russia, India, Germany and Australia. The films themselves range from witty comedies to dramatic powerhouses, and many qualify for the descriptor “critically acclaimed.”

The films are free to students and the community, although donations are always accepted to benefit the foreign film series committee under Artworks. The opportunity is a rare one in this small town, giving students and community members a chance to experience different cultures in a way they otherwise may not have.

Dr. Elizabeth Stolarek, a professor in the department of languages and literature, is a member of the committee that organizes the foreign film series. The committee meets each week to view films and plan for future film series.

“We watch the bad ones so you don’t have to,” Stolarek said.

After viewing the 30 or so movies each year, the committee must work to gain rights to the films before being allowed to show them. Usually, they are planning at least two years ahead.

During the month of February, a movie is played each week to celebrate Festival of the Arts. This year, one of the films they will show is “A Separation,” the first Iranian film to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

“[A Separation] gives us a good view about a country that we don’t know a lot about,” Dr. Stolarek said. She also mentioned that it was easily the group favorite.

During the viewings of the various films, the committee also tries to bring in a speaker either from the country or with a lot of knowledge about the culture to introduce the film and hold a discussion afterwards.

Dr. Stolarek explained that she finds foreign films so interesting. “I think they’re really well done; so many of them are about human reactions. You learn that people are people no matter where they come from.”

For a list of all the movies and the date of their viewing, visit the Artworks website at