Must-See Foreign Films to Watch at the Honolulu Museum of Art This Month

Throughout April, Doris Duke Theatre will be screening French, German and other European film gems.

Editors Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawai‘i writer on arts, culture and food.

  400 Blows

Jean-Pierre Léaud took French cinema by storm when The 400 Blows was released in 1959. You can see it on the big screen at HoMA in April. 
Photos: Courtesy of the Honolulu Museum of Art


“Je n’ai jamais été si bouleversé au cinema,” Jean Cocteau said in 1959 about The 400 Blows—if you don’t read French, that’s, “I have never been so moved by a film.” The movie became the very symbol of French New Wave cinema and made the directorial name of one-time film critic François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud, the 13-year-old boy who played Truffaut’s on-screen alter ego. What Cocteau found so moving was that young first-time actor, playing a bored kid with distant parents and crappy teachers, bouncing through Paris seemingly headed for a life of petty crime.


Now Honolulu has a chance to see this seminal film and performance on the big screen in the next Cinémathèque Française—the Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre’s annual French-language film festival, which runs April 1 to 18.


The Death of Louis XIV
Jean-Pierre Léaud 57 years later in The Death of Louis XIV.


But, wait for it, Léaud did not wind up a flash-in-the-pan youth actor. Fifty-seven years later, he stars as France’s most famous monarch in the new film La mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV)—which you can see right after The 400 Blows on April 13. It is a singular experience to see this person who has become a national treasure of France go from fresh-faced adolescent rascal to a 72-year-old Sun King rallying as he lies fading in bed. It is a highlight of this year’s festival.

  After Love

What happens to a home when love dies? Find out in the intimate Belgian drama After Love.


If you’re into art, there are films on Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. Love those Belgian dark explorations of domestic life? Joachim Lafosse’s After Love will have you gripping the arms of your chair. Were you tickled by the 2012 cross-cultural hit comedy Les Intouchables? Then don’t miss The African Doctor and He Even Has Your Eyes. Can’t get enough of the winner of this year’s Best Actress Golden Globe? Isabelle Huppert already has a new post-Elle film out—Things to Come screens April 10 and 11. And if you missed the biggies Frantz and Elle at Kāhala Theatres, the festival includes encore screenings of those, too.

  Like Crazy

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Micaela Ramazzotti hit the road in Like CrazyThelma and Louise Italian style.


The museum rounds out April with films from across Europe—from the Italian road-to-Crazytown buddy film Like Crazy (my friend Marco from Milan says I absolutely must see it) to the 1988 Polish milestone 10-episode TV series Dekalog (an all-day binge on the big screen!). Oh, and there’s also a weekend of the best of new German-language films as the theater screens a selection from Goethe-Institut San Francisco’s Berlin & Beyond April 8 and 9. If you’re a sucker for European cinema, you might consider pitching a tent at the museum for four weeks—or at least become a member (that’ll get you a $2 discount on every film).


Cinémathèque Française: April 1–18

Berlin & Beyond: April 8–9

Andrzej Wajda Tribute: April 30



Lesa GriffithLesa Griffith is director of communications at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Born in Honolulu, one of her early seminal art experiences was at the Honolulu Museum of Art, when on a field trip her high school art history teacher pointed out that the ermine cape in Whistler’s Portrait of Lady Meux was not just a cape—it was visual signage leading viewers’ eyes through the painting.