Immerse Yourself into Other Cultures with Foreign Films

Movies have the ability to transport you to amazing, far-off places as you lay in bed or lounge on the couch. For the people that are unable to study abroad, for whatever reason, or that have already studied abroad but have the desire to learn more about other cultures, movies can teach you a lot about the people that made them. Foreign films are a great way to get a feel for another culture while also being entertained, so I’ve created a list of some of the best foreign films from different regions of the world to watch to expand your horizons.

Iran: “A Separation” (2011)

“A Separation” was the first Iranian film to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and the first non-English film in five years to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 2012 Academy Awards. The film is about a husband and wife who separate after the wife wants to move out of the country to raise their daughter while the husband wants to stay to help take care of his father who has Alzheimer’s disease. The film shows the life of modern-day, middle-class families in Iran, which is a depiction that can be hard to find elsewhere. Besides being a different perspective, “A Separation” is also just incredibly written and performed.

France: “Amélie” (2001)

“Amélie” was a box office hit, being the highest-grossing French film in the United States and one of the highest-grossing French films internationally. “Amélie” follows the story of Amélie Tautou, played by Audrey Tautou, as she tries to help better the lives of those around her in modern-day Paris. The depiction of Paris as a bright, colorful city with many interesting and complex people allows viewers to see a quaint and playful side of France that is often not portrayed in film and television.

Brazil: “City of God” (2002)

“City of God” is based on the novel of the same name by Paulo Lins about organized crime in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. While “City of God” is not easy to watch because of the amount of violence and brutality depicted, the film is an unforgettable look into a dark world that many are forced to live in and even fewer ever experience. In fact, many of the actors in the film weren’t actors but the actual citizens of the slums where they filmed, bringing more authenticity to the film.

South Africa: “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (1980)

The most commercially successful film ever to come from South Africa, “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is a comedy about a small tribe in Botswana that is cut off from the rest of the world as one of their own discovers the ways of the rest of the world. “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is a genuinely enjoyable and hilarious film that will make you reconsider what it means to be “civilized”.

China: “In the Mood for Love” (2000)

One of the most internationally critically-acclaimed films of the 2000s, “In the Mood for Love” tells the story of two neighbors that bond over their spouses’ infidelities, while choosing to remain faithful to their spouses and not follow in their footsteps. The incredible romanticism of the film leaves the audience in a dream-like state after watching, while also conveying the values and beliefs of the main characters very clearly.

Honorable mentions

Senegal: “Touki Bouki” (1973), Saudi Arabia: “Wadjda” (2012), Germany: “Good Bye Lenin!” (2003), Argentina: “Wild Tales” (2014), India: “Kahaani” (2012), France: the “Three Colors” trilogy (1993-1994), Japan: “Departures” (2008) and Italy: “Bicycle Thieves” (1948).

Photo: by Alex Holyoake