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All Around The World: 6 Must-Watch Foreign Movies

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The experience of spending hours on end while watching a good movie is not a new one – and not an exclusive one, either. Dating back to the 1900s, when films became one of the main forms of storytelling, the cinematographic industry engaged and encouraged its audience to immerse themselves in journeys to discover narratives and realities that differed from their own. 

In spite of language, culture, and ethnicity, catching a movie became an universal activity, being present worldwide. With the invention of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, it became possible to come in contact with these varied productions with the ease of a touch – so, with these six recommendations, wander around the world from and to every one of its corners.

Amélie – France (2001)

Amélie, ever since its release in 2001, has established itself as one of the most known French movies worldwide. This romantic comedy tells the story of the eccentric waitress Amélie Poulain, who starts a scheme to change the lives, through joy, of those who surround her, while also struggling to get out of her own imaginative and recluse world. Its quirky heart is charming, and defines this European movie as a must-watch. 

Bad Genius – Thailand (2017)

Based on real-life events, Bad Genius (ฉลาดเกมส์โกง) revolves around the prodigy, scholarship student Lynn, who sees her initial help in a test to a friend spiral into an exam cheating crime ring. This business project lands her a million-Baht task: the answers to the international STIC (SAT) exam.

Despite its mundane setting, this production features important issues, like class inequality and teenage social issues, and was widely acclaimed worldwide for its well written script and elaborate visuals. Being credited as the most successful Thai movie of all time, it’s also, supposedly, set to be a Hollywood remake in the next few years.

Roma – Mexico (2018)

Written and directed by acclaimed cinematographer Alfonso Cuarón, Roma unravels the life of a live-in Mixteco housekeeper in the 1970s. The movie stars Yalitza Aparicio, who was nominated for Best Actress in the 91st Academy Awards.

Roma’s plot is straightforward, weaved with comedy, tragedy and all the banal moments in between. However, the story is lensed with Cuarón’s intense and artful directing, bringing in nostalgia – as if the film was a memory being remembered with affection by its viewers – and subtle references to the remains of the colonial power dynamic with Aparicio’s powerful and quiet performance. 

Life is Beautiful – Italy (1997)

Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella) is an Italian 1997 movie directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. Surrounding Jewish Italian Guido Orefice and his bookshop, Life is Beautiful is the portrayal of a Rubino’s attempts to shield his son Guiosué from the inhumane reality of the Nazi concentration camp they were being contained in. By telling Guiosué that their internment is actually a complicated game, Guido strives to guarantee their survival amid the Holocaust atrocities. This film is partially inspired by the book In The End, I Beat Hitler by Rubino Romeo Salmonì, which tells real-life occurrences. 

Capernaum – Lebanon (2018)

Capernaum (كفرناحوم‎) is a touching narrative about Zain, a 12-year-old living in the slums of Beirut, who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life.

The plot is threaded through flashbacks of his life leaving up to the prosecution, portraying his struggles after running away from home – including a series of encounters, heart-wrenching moments, and unfortunate events. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2019, this Lebanese production is a raw and powerful story, filled with tragedy, sensibility and emotion, as a nod to its title, which refers, biblically, to a doomed village.

shoplifters – japan (2018)

Winner of Cannes Film Festival’s Palme D’Or in 2018, Shoplifters (万引き家族) is a Japanese drama film directed, written, and edited by Hirokazu Kore-eda. An example of social realism, complex characters and intimacy in film, this Tokyo-based story conveys the life of a flawed family that takes in Yuri, a little girl, after finding her orphaned and freezing in the cold.

Dealing with poverty, disparity and having a tact for petty crime and antics, Yuri’s newfound home of outcasts brings out, amid their struggles, the question of what truly forms a family. With a simple yet emotional and painfully human narrative, Shoplifters is a movie filled with social criticism and soul – as well as close-ups. 

The director Hirokazu Kore-eda is also, according to Variety, developing multiple projects for Netflix. A drama series and a “big-budget movie” that is different from the director’s previous works are set out to be released in the future, as a part of the streaming’s expansion of its live action Asian productions.

Isabella Gemignani

Casper Libero '23

Hi! I'm Isabella, a junior majoring in Journalism at Cásper Líbero. When not writing in my occupied time, I can be found reading or listening to music somewhere. Currently a National Writer for Her Campus & Campus Correspondent at Cásper Líbero!
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