Film Mon Oncle or My Uncle is the first non-English language film I ever watched. I think. Although the BBC imported plenty of European television series during the 70s and 80s, Heidi and the like, dubbed into English from their given languages, I can't think of a space or reason why I would have watched something feature length in my childhood or indeed even remember doing so. So it's probably more accurate to say that Jacqui Tati's comedy is the first foreign film I remember watching.
Inevitably this was at school. We'd be sat at the back of the language laboratory in a ring of chairs huddled around the department's own television during one of the double period of French towards the end of the year. Do school's still have language labs? This consisted of wooden cubicles and headsets with tape decks controlled from a console at the front of the class, attempting to drill languages into us through isolation techniques. Not that it worked for me. I was set four French then dropped both that and Spanish altogether at GCSEs. I wasn't destined to be a protocol droid.
Unlike in English class, the film wasn't introduced to us in any meaningful way, we didn't really know what we were watching. I didn't even know it was directed by Tati until years later. But I do know we watched it several times so it's entirely possible that either (a) it was the French teacher's favourite film or (b) the only film on video the language department owned. Either way it was probably the right choice since it doesn't contain an awful lot of dialogue even if it didn't really go much way to reflecting contemporary French society.
I haven't seen it since. Always meant to, but somehow have ended up viewing Playtime on numerous occasions instead. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this project it's important to note the milestones and here it is, Mon Oncle, my first piece of world cinema. Which now leads me to trying to remember what was next. Could it have been La Dolce Vita? Really? I must have seen something before heading off the university especially with BBC Two and Channel 4 unafraid to show world cinema. I'll have a think and get back to you.