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Tune in if you love foreign films

Lawrence Toppman
Lawrence Toppman
Lawrence Toppman is a theater critic and culture writer with The Charlotte Observer.

Some of us have cause to rejoice this summer. I don't, because I have stubbornly refused to upgrade my television service from the Neanderthal level of cable coverage. But you might.

Cable and broadband companies, including Time-Warner and DirectTV, have added a channel called Eurocinema to satisfy foreign film fanatics who feel deprived. That's especially apt for our area, as film buff Steve Matela – vice-president of affiliate relations for the company – now lives in Charlotte.

Despite the name, Eurocinema will offer movies from other continents. Its initial lineup has included work from India, France, Russia, Romania, Sweden, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Bangladesh, Argentina and Mexico.

It's an On-Demand service, reaching nearly 20 million homes across North America, and Time-Warner now has it in our area. Customers can pick from 20 to 30 movies, each available for $3.95; Eurocinema enriches the viewing experience with context for films, commentary from the director or cast and – my favorite – shorts beforehand.

The press release promises you'll see “no movies in English, no Oscar winners and pretty much no movies that anyone has heard of.” CEO Sebastian Perioche rightly says, “Take 10 movies made in Europe, and maybe three are really good. Of the three, one will probably be picked up for distribution in the United States. That leaves two very good films that won't be seen here. Those are the ones we want.”

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