It was sometime in the early 1980s when I first started to realize there was far more to film than what was produced in North America. One of the first foreign films I saw was by the great French film director Jean-Luc Godard. I could probably figure out the title of the movie through a process of elimination by looking him and his movies up on the web, but that's not the point. The point is that after watching it my whole perspective on what constituted a movie changed. This wasn't some great intellectual epiphany or any such bullshit, it was just a matter of my eyes being opened to the fact there were more ways to tell a story cinematically than I had been aware of.
After that I started seeking out other movies by European directors. Now, I wasn't a movie snob like some people I knew who would refuse to see anything made in North America — that was as bigoted and close-minded as refusing to see a movie because it had sub-titles — but I did make an effort to seek out movies by Europeans over North Americans. It was sort of a personal affirmative action plan — if there was a choice between two movies on a certain night I would watch the European one instead of the North American. In the process I discovered that European directors could make crap movies the same as anyone else, if not worse for the intellectual pretensions they carried with them. However, when they were good, they were really good and far better than anything I had seen before.
At the time a trio of German filmmakers — Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder — were making the biggest impression on most people. However there was also a French director, Jean-Jacques Beineix, whose name was being mentioned in the same breath as those others, primarily as a result of his first feature length movie, Diva, released in 1981. Two years later he released La Lune Dans Le Caniveau (The Moon In The Gutter), which will be available for the first time on DVD in North America October 20 thanks to Cinema Libre studios.