Story last updated at 3:53 p.m. Thursday, November 21, 2002

Foreign films' popularity grows
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment

Richard Ligenza, above, vice president of the college student association, makes popcorn before the show Friday night at the Kachemak Bay East Campus.  
A half-hour before the show was to begin, the college-classroom-turned-cinema started to fill with moviegoers who stuffed dollars in the donation box and grabbed a brown bag of fresh popcorn.

"Such a Long Journey," Indian/British film

  • Where: Kachemak Bay East Campus

    ,li> When: Friday, 7 p.m.

  • ,b>Tickets: Donations accepted

  • More Info: inlvs@

    HEAD:Foreign films' popularity grows

    CAPTION:Photos by Carey James, Homer News

    photo: entertainment

    The room fills with eager movie enthusiasts as Kyra Riley introduces last week's foreign film. Organizers say the movies attract a varied audience and popularity has grown so much in recent years that the festival is looking into new facilities to show their films  
  • By 7 p.m., more than 75 people had squeezed into the space. People lay on the floor in front, dragged in more chairs, and a handful deemed the space too cluttered and turned around at the door.

    After a brief announcement, the screen flickered on with the story of two idiotic yet hilarious Japanese men who stumble upon a princess in hiding, and her gold. Filmed in 1958 and directed by Akira Kurosawa, "Hidden Fortress" is said to be the inspiration for Star Wars.

    It's just one of 15 eclectic films shown at the campus this year, ranging from a French romance to a Norwegian documentary on an all-male choir in a poor fishing village.

    The films are handpicked by self-proclaimed movie junkie Lauren Scharf, and her dedication to bringing great, rare foreign films to Homer has been noticed. For the past five years, the size of the crowd at the Kachemak Bay Campus' Foreign Film Festival has slowly swelled. Each fall, when the film series restarts, new faces add to the previous year's regulars.

    "I think the word has gotten out that the movies are likely to be good," Scharf said. "The audience is impressively eclectic."

    Scharf said in addition to the artsy crowd, there are regulars from other walks of life. When a Russian film plays, for example, people from the Russian communities surrounding Homer often attend.

    While the attendance has increased, the crowd has definitely begun to exceed its space. Scharf said several ideas are being floated currently to solve this problem, but nothing is expected to occur until next season.

    In the meantime, the small space adds a cozy, community feel to the event as regulars discuss past movies and predictions for the evening's entertainment.

    Scharf said she balances a long list of requirements when picking out the films, which come from a company call Home Film Festival. Each year, a catalogue is sent out with a long list of available films on video. Scharf checks out reviews in national newspapers as well as a Web site that rates many of the films. She also is careful to select foreign films that can't be found in Homer's video stores.

    "I try to make sure they are not too violent or too sexual or too anything. I choose things that have some sort of theme or message, but not necessarily a feel-good movie. And I try to get a balance of countries," she said.

    On occasion, some difficulties unique to the world of foreign films occur, like the movie with white subtitles on a desert backdrop.

    In other movies, the translations sometimes raise eyebrows, but Scharf said movie-watchers take it all in a humorous stride.

    While the films have no admission charge, most patrons choose to donate some funds to support the endeavor and the Kachemak Bay College Student Association.

    Richard Ligenza, vice president of the student association and head popcorn-maker, said the movie nights help the college keep in contact with the community, something that might not happen otherwise.

    After the $200 in operating fees are covered, all extra funds from donations and popcorn sales go to help the association pay for tutors, activities and events.

    "People are very generous," Scharf said. "The community has been wonderful."

    Carey James can be reached at cjames@homer