Where to Watch Foreign Films: San Francisco

Any language enthusiast knows that foreign films can be incredibly difficult to find in America—but San Francisco is one of the rare exceptions! San Francisco, along with New York City, is the cultural capital of America, so it’s not surprising that the city has such a wealth of theaters showing movies from around the world. Any SanFran resident can easily find a movie in his or her target language…without having to resort to Netflix’s underwhelming choices.

Below are a few SanFran cinemas that will cater to your global tastes:

1. Foreign Cinema

Foreign films and fine dining…what more could you want? Open since 1999, Foreign Cinema is one of San Francisco’s premiere dining destinations. This restaurant is lauded for its Mediterranean cuisine, but the simultaneous film screenings are what truly set it apart. The dishes and films often follow the same cultural theme—meaning you can enjoy some pho while watching a Vietnamese flick!

Address: 2534 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

2. Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre bills itself as “San Francisco’s Historic Movie Palace.” In addition to screening more mainstream releases, this cinema has been known to screen foreign films now and then. On their upcoming roster? A 1966 Russian and French-language adaptation of War and Peace.

Address: 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

3. NEW PEOPLE

NEW PEOPLE Inc., a company that aims to promote Japanese culture in the US, owns this underground movie theater (literally underground—the screening room is located in the basement). The 143-seat cinema is sleek, modern, and the perfect place to find the latest anime releases. Be sure to stop by New People’s Crown & Crumpet tea shop on your way out!

Address: 1746 Post Street (B1F), San Francisco, CA 94115

4. Alliance Française

Any French learner or Francophile should be familiar with Alliance Française. This organization dedicated to promoting Francophone culture boasts 110 chapters in the United States—including San Francisco, of course! AF San Francisco screens French movies every Tuesday; attendance is free, but $5 donations are encouraged.

Address: 1345 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

5. Roxie Theater

The Roxie Theater is an nonprofit, independent cinema located in the Mission District. If you’re looking to catch a foreign flick right now, Roxie is the right place. The current roster includes indie movies in several languages, like Pasolini, which was filmed in English, Italian, AND French.

Address: 3117 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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In my opinion, movie-watching is so much more enjoyable with a friend. So bring your lex partner along to enjoy the movie—and maybe even have a discussion about it in your target language afterwards!

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