Sans Soleil/La Jetée (1983, 1962)
Chris Marker's Sans Soleil may be the best film of the 80s, an essay about imaginary and real voyages through Japan and Africa and the filmed universe of Vertigo. His La Jetée is a photo-novel as short film. New Yorker had them on VHS once, long ago. The only way to obtain them is from France. That DVD includes both the French- and English-language versions, but there are no dubbing issues since both are narrated in voice-over.
Letter From An Unknown Woman (Wild Side Video, 1948)
The only Max Ophuls film available in R1 DVD is Fox-Lorber's vile transfer of Lola Montés. Letter From An Unknown Woman, perhaps the greatest of Ophuls's Hollywood films, is a story of romantic obsession, with Joan Fontaine pursuing Louis Jourdan's impossibly sexy concert pianist. The only drawback is that on the French DVD the subtitles are not optional and all the extras are in French, but that's offset by the beautifully restored print.
Hero (FACE, 2002)
Miramax has been sitting on this astonishing Chinese martial arts film with Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Maggie Cheung and Zhang Ziyi under the direction of Zhang Yimou (Raise The Red Lantern) in a fantastic period setting that makes Crouching Tiger look like a b-movie. Someday, Miramax may actually release it in North America. Until then, there's a stunning R3 DVD transfer from Taiwan, with English subtitles.
Forbidden Games (Studio Canal, 1952)
Not available in North America in any video form, this black-and-white French film is one of the greatest war movies ever, the story of a small girl (Brigitte Fossey) trying to survive the trauma of losing her parents during the German invasion of France. The DVD has interviews with Fossey and director René Clément (in French), an alternate ending and English subtitles, though there's so little dialogue in the film it barely needs them.
Eraserhead/Mulholland Dr./Lost Highway (Film Office/Studio Canal/TF1, 1977, 2001, 1997)
Here's a case where the films are available in North America but the offshore editions are superior. Seville's Lost Highway is pan-and-scan, while the French version is anamorphic wide-screen. Studio Canal's Mulholland Dr. comes with a full disc of extras, including the Cannes press conference and interviews (in English) with composer Angelo Badalamenti and editor Mary Sweeney. The French Eraserhead is drawn from better sources than the one the director himself is marketing at davidlynch.com.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Classics: 1983-1986 (Sino Movie)
The Boys From Fengkuei, A Summer At Grandpa's, The Time To Live And The Time To Die and Dust In The Wind are the remarkable early films of Taiwanese master Hou and in my opinion are far more enjoyable than his later history films like Puppet Master and City Of Sadness. They have a fresh approach and a graceful intimacy with the actors. You can't see them in any format in North America, and they've never been available theatrically off the festival/museum circuit.