DIY Virtual International Film Series

Thanks to all who participated in our Summer 2020 series!

The discussion series is now concluded, but you can still watch the video-taped introductions by our film experts and the films on your own time through June 2021. Throw a DIY watch party!

Whether you like epic adventure, comedy, romance, detective thriller, documentary, classic French New Wave, you name it, we have something for you. The selected films touch on themes of ambition, betrayal, environmentalism, settler colonialism, race, justice, incarceration, gender, diaspora, longing and desire, social distancing, isolation, friendship, family, redemption, and more. Our faculty introducers bring diverse perspectives from an array of SHASS disciplines. Find links to the taped introductions and the films below. Note: If you have a technical problem viewing the film, try another browser or a VPN connection.

VIdeo introductions by SHASS faculty for each flm are available to the public.

Film links are open to current MIT students, faculty and staff.

Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (1982). Introduced by Kurt Fendt.

Fitzcarraldo directed by Werner Herzog (Germany), 1982

Watch the recorded introduction: by Kurt Fendt:

See the film:
Fitzcarraldo (if you have trouble in multiple browsers, go to the Alexander Street site and search the film)

About the introducer:

Kurt Fendt is a Senior Lecturer in MIT’s CMS/W, teaching media and digital humanities. He also teaches a range of upper-level German classes in Global Languages. Come join us to hear Fendt's insights into this classic (and quirky!) German film. Next year, Fendt will teach: (Fall 2020) CMS.633/833 Digital Humanities - Topics, Techniques, Technologies, CMS.635/835 Designing Active Archives; and (Spring 2021) CMS.636/855 Extending the Museum, CMS.701 Current Debates In Media (tentative), and 21G.420 Visual Histories - German Cinema After 1945 (this subject will include several public screenings (titles and dates tbd).

About the film:

Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo is a movie in the great tradition of grandiose cinematic visions. Like Coppola's Apocalypse Now or Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is a quest film in which the hero's quest is scarcely more mad than the filmmaker's.” – Roger Ebert. Iquitos is a town isolated in the middle of the jungle in Peru. At the turn of the century, one resident of the small town, “Fitzcarraldo” as the natives call him, has his dream of bringing together Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt for one great celebration of Grand Opera. To finance this fantastic dream, Fitzcarraldo decides to exploit a vast area of rubber trees growing beyond the impassable Ucayala Falls. To circumvent this barrier, he literally has his huge steamboat lifted over a mountain from one branch of the river to the other. With the local residents bewitched by the voice of the greatest singer of all time, Enrico Caruso, Fitzcarraldo fights fever, mosquitos and suffocating heat to achieve the impossible....Features: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, José Lewgoy.

Country of Origin: Germany. Genre: Adventure, Quest. Awards: Nominated 1983 BAFTA Awards, Best Foreign Language Film, Nominated 1983 Golden Globes, Best Foreign Film, Won 1982 Cannes Film Festival, Best Director, Nominated 1982 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or.



Wong Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love" (2000). Introduced by Tristan Brown.

In the Mood for Love directed by Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong), 2000

Watch the recorded introduction: by Tristan Brown

See the film:

In the Mood for Love

About the introducer:


Tristan Brown: A Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge, Prof. Brown joins the MIT History faculty as an Assistant Professor of Chinese History this fall. Come join us to hear Brown's insights into this classic of Hong Kong cinema and world cinematography. Next year, Brown will teach: Fall 20: 21H.151 Pre-Modern China. Spring 21:  21H.152 Modern China and 21H.186 Nature and Environment in China.


About the film:

Brown's pick is: In the Mood for Love, directed by Wong Kar-Wai, 2000, The Criterion Collection.

A major work of Asian cinema, and considered by some one of the greatest films of all time, In the Mood for Love is the second film in Wong Kar-Wai's tetralogy. Set in 1960s Hong Kong: Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen move into neighboring apartments on the same day. Their encounters are formal and polite--until a discovery about their spouses creates an intimate bond between them. At once delicately mannered and visually extravagant, Wong Kar-wai's “In the Mood for Love” is a masterful evocation of romantic longing and fleeting moments. With its aching musical soundtrack and exquisitely abstract cinematography by Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin, this film has been a major stylistic influence on the past decade of cinema, and is a milestone in Wong Kar-wai's redoubtable career. Features: Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu, Tony Chiu Wai Leung.

Country of Origin: Hong Kong. Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, Shanghainese. Genre: Romance Awards: 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Nominated: Palme d'Or, 2001 Hong Kong Film Awards, 2000 Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards, 2001 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and more.



Taika Waititi’s "The Hunt for the Wilderpeople" (2016). Introduced by Megan Black.

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople directed by Taika Waititi (New Zealand), 2016

Watch the recorded introduction: by Megan Black

See the film:

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

About the introducer:

Megan Black is Associate Professor of Environmental History. Come join us to hear Black's insights into how this New Zealand director uses offbeat comedy to address issues of environmentalism, settler colonialism, and family. Next year, Black will teach: Spring 21:  21H.187 US Environmental Governance and 21H.388/988 Global Commodities, American Dreams.

About the film:


Black's pick is: The Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Dir. Taika Waititi. The Orchard, 2016.

From acclaimed New Zealand director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do in the Shadows) comes an award-winning new comedy. Julian Dennison stars as Ricky, a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle (Sam Neil) in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together. Features Julian Dennison, Rachel House, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, Sam Neill.

"One of the most sincere and funny portraits of family life to come along in a while." - April Wolfe, L.A. Weekly

"Every once in a while, a small, unheralded film comes along, so smart and funny, such a pleasure to experience, you can't believe your luck. "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is such a film." - Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

Country: New Zealand. Genre: Comedy. Awards: Winner of Best Narrative Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Winner of an Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Winner of Best Film at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards.



Ken Burns’s "The Central Park Five" (2012). Introduced by Craig Wilder.

The Central Park Five directed by Ken Burns (USA), 2012

Watch the recorded introduction: by Craig Wilder

See the film:

The Central Park Five

About the introducer:

Craig Wilder is the Barton L. Weller Professor of History at MIT. A historian of American institutions and ideas, Prof. Wilder advised and appears in The Central Park Five. Come join us to hear Wilder's insights into working with Ken Burns and the historical implications of this case for race and justice in America today. Next year, Wilder will teach: Fall 20: 21H.281 MIT and Slavery: Research and 21H.385/11.152 The Ghetto: From Venice to Harlem. Spring 21: 21H.282 MIT and Slavery: Publication.

About the film:

Wilder's pick is: The Central Park Five. directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, produced by Ken Burns, et al., Public Broadcasting Service, 2012. 


In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park. The Central Park Five tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.


Country of Origin: United States. Genre: Documentary. Awards: Peabody Award, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Black Film Critics Circle Awards, Black Reel Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, and more.



Kurosawa Kiyoshi's "Creepy" (2016). Introduced by Paul Roquet.

Creepy directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi's (Japan), 2016

Watch the recorded introduction: by Paul Roquet 

See the film:


About the introducer:

Paul Roquet is an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Japan Studies in Comparative Media Studies/Writing. His research interests include ambient media and VR/AR in Japan. Come join us to hear Roquet's insights into Kurosawa's use of psychological suspense and the film's portrayal of social distancing. Next year, Roquet will teach: Spring 2021: 21G.067/597 Digital Media in Japan and Korea and 21G.094/594 Cinema in Japan and Korea.

About the film:

Roquet's pick is: Creepy, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2016).

A year after a botched hostage negotiation with a serial killer turned deadly, ex-detective Koichi (Hidetoshi Nishijima), and his wife move into a new house with a deeply strange new neighbor (Teruyuki Kagawa). His old cop colleagues come calling for his help on a mysterious case, which may be related to the strange goings-on next door, in this insidiously-constructed narrative that braids plot twists on top of plot twists and shock on top of shock. World premiere at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.

"The movie is thoroughly and utterly creepy, partly because Mr. Kurosawa knows how to slither under your skin, but also because his movies transcend the classifications (and limits) valued by critics and content providers." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

"A slow-burning mystery that gets darker by the minute before reaching a lurid, queasy finale." - Noel Murray, The Los Angeles Times

Country of Origin: Japan. Genre: Horror & Thriller. Detective.

Trigger Warning: this film has elements of horror and is definitively "creepy," though it does not contain extreme violence.




Luis Puenzo's "The Official Story" (1985). Introduced by Margery Resnick.

The Official Story directed by Luis Puenzo (Argentina), 1985

Watch the recorded introduction: by Margery Resnick 

See the film:

The Official Story /  La historia oficial

About the introducer:

Margery Resnick is a professor in the Literature section. Her research includes work on Hispanic literature, international writing by women and the history of women at MIT. Next year, Resnick will teach: Fall 2020: 21L.020/WGS 145  Globalization, the Good, the Bad and the In-between. IAP 2021: 21L. 590 The Spanish Incubator In Madrid. Spring 2021: 21L.640/21G.740.The New Spain.

About the film:

Resnick's pick is: The Official Story/La historia oficial (1985) directed by Luis Puenzo

During the final months of the Argentinian Military Dictatorship in 1983, a high school teacher sets out to find out who the mother of her adopted daughter is.

"The Official Story is part polemic, part thriller, part tragedy. It belongs on the list with films like Z, Missing and El Norte, which examine the human aspects of political unrest." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Country of Origin: Argentina. Genre: Drama. Awards: Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 1986 Academy Awards, and Golden Globes. Winner of Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.



François Truffaut's "Jules et Jim" (1962). Introduced by Edward Baron Turk.

 Jules et Jim directed by François Truffaut's (France), 1962

Watch the recorded introduction: by Edward Baron Turk 

and a bonus introduction to the French New Wave:

See the film:

Jules et Jim

About the introducer:

Edward Baron Turk is the John E. Burchard Professor Emeritus of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Chevalier (‘knight’) in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. As a Professor of French and Film Studies, Turk taught film, theater, and media studies in MIT's Foreign Languages and Literatures from 1978 through 2012. He was also one of the founders of MIT's Comparative Media Studies. French Studies Information.

About the film:

Turk's pick is: Jules et Jim directed by François Truffaut, The Criterion Collection (1962).

Hailed as one of the finest films ever made, Jules et Jim charts, over twenty-five years, the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession. The legendary Francois Truffaut directs, and Jeanne Moreau stars as the alluring and willful Catherine, whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) into one of cinema's most captivating romantic triangles. An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, Jules and Jim was a worldwide smash in 1962 and remains every bit as audacious and entrancing today. The film speaks to issues of gender roles, female sexuality, homosociality, and same-sex love.

Country of Origin: France. Genre: New Wave romantic drama film. Awards: BAFTA, Bodil Awards, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Cahiers du cinéma, Mar del Plata Film Festival.

About the facilitator:

Emma Teng is the Director of MIT Global Languages.




Hank Rogerson's "Shakespeare Behind Bars" (2005). Introduced by Diana Henderson.

Shakespeare Behind Bars directed by Hank Rogerson (USA), 2005

Watch the recorded introduction: by Diana Henderson 

See the film: 

Shakespeare Behind Bars

About the introducer:

Diana Henderson is a Professor of Literature at MIT and a leading expert on global Shakespeare. Her areas of research and interest include performance, gender studies, early modern poetry and drama, modernism, media studies, and world drama. Henderson will teach (Fall) 21L.010 Writing With Shakespeare, a class that uses "Shakespeare's own words to arm [students] 'with audacity' and a similar ability to make logical, compelling arguments, in speech and in writing."

About the film:

Henderson's pick is: Shakespeare Behind Bars , a documentary by Hank Rogerson (2005).

Shakespeare Behind Bars is an unexpectedly delightful documentary that follows the casting, rehearsal, and presentation of Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, by prisoners inside Kentucky's Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. Winner of eight film festival awards, Shakespeare Behind Bars documents these remarkably unique actors preparing. Ultimately, we get to see the human psyche unfold in all of its complexities, as these men, ostracized from society, reveal their kindness, generosity and faith. In the process, we accompany them as they discover the power of truth, forgiveness and transformation.

Also of interest:  Ken Burns dir. series "College Behind Bars"

COLLEGE BEHIND BARS is the story of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees in the rigorous Bard Prison Initiative. The four-part documentary series reveals the transformative power of education. 

Professor Craig Wilder (History) is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative, where he has served as a visiting professor, commencement speaker, and academic advisor. 

Professor Helen Elaine Lee (CMS/W) has taught creative writing to incarcerated men in Massachusetts for over a decade. Read her "Visible Men."