Since February is Oscar Month, I thought it appropriate to blog about what’s going on at the Rancho Mirage Public Library during the second month of the year, specifically surrounding its Foreign Language Oscar Film Series.
It was in 1957 that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences instituted its regular competitive category devoted to Best Foreign Language Film. This February at the library, Palm Springs Valley film historian Jason Bruecks continues to curate and present weekly the free screenings of motion pictures that have won that Oscar since the inception of the prize.
On Monday, February 2 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Jason will introduce “Mon Oncle,” the 1958 victor by auteur Jacques Tati (in French with English subtitles). That will be followed on Monday, February 9—same time and place—by Marcel Camus’ 1959 winner “Black Orpheus” (in Portuguese with English subtitles). Skipping a week for Presidents’ Day on February 16, the month will close out on February 23 with Ingar Bergman’s classic “The Virgin Spring” (in German with English subtitles), which earned the Academy Award in 1960.
“I’ve always been intrigued by an Oscar foreign language film series,” says Jason, who not only served as the general manager at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs from 2003 to 2014 but who, from 1996 to 2000, was an assistant programmer at the Palm Springs International Film Festival under Dr. David Kaminsky. Together the two programmed all the Italian films and the Cinematographer’s Day event. “The idea of showing as many of the honorary and award-winning foreign films as possible since 1957 to the present was such an extraordinary opportunity.”
I’ve witnessed Jason introducing and presenting a foreign language film during this series, and I can tell you that doing so is to see, hear, and feel the passion this affable man has for non-English-language cinema. “A good foreign language film can reach an audience beyond subtitles,” Jason continues. “There is a universal language where a foreign film can contain actions of love, anger, power, poverty, war, hope, hunger, kindness, and so many other themes and emotions. It truly is wonderful when an audience can connect to these themes on an emotional and on an intellectual level.”
So what do you say? Shall we meet at the library for some international cinema? Come on… The popcorn’s on me!