With the rise of popularity of foreign media like Squid Game, it’s time for us to expand what we consume outside Western influence. There is a plethora of fun and exciting entertainment and knowledge to be gained from foreign entertainment. Allow me to get you started with a list of my personal recommendations…
FOR THE romanTICS and dramaTICS
One of my absolute favourites and the first recommendation is Crash Landing Into You, a beautiful and heartfelt Korean Drama (K-drama) series about a wealthy South Korean woman who accidentally paraglides across the border into North Korea. Here, she meets an army captain who helps her hide and through their attempts to try and get her back home, sparks inevitably fly between the two. Make sure to grab your tissues since you’ll find yourself getting emotional over these two!
On the same note of sparks flying, Our Beloved Summer is another amazing contender if you’re looking for a mix of romance and drama. Two teenagers were asked to participate in a documentary as the best and worst-performing students of their school. While they do fall in love in the process, they eventually part ways after an intense breakup that they will have to address when the director decides to film a sequel 10 years later.
looking for a laugh?
Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, I have watched my fair share of Arab comedies and in my completely biased opinion, I absolutely have to recommend Lock Your Girls In. This Egyptian movie, presented in a play-style setup, is about a man’s chaotic attempts to try and marry off his three daughters so he can finally be free to be with his secret love. However, it doesn’t help that his daughters, all extremely problematic and bizarre, have made it their mission to drive him insane.
Wannabe Courageous, another Egyptian comedy film, shares the whimsical adventures of a man who tries to fix his delirious wife after she witnesses him fail to protect her. With the help of an equally delirious psychiatrist, the man sets out to prove his manliness in the most amusing ways, in hopes that his wife will go back to normal. If I could say anything to recommend this movie it would be that my family and I rewatch it every single weekend as it never fails to make us laugh to the point of tears.
The classic ‘coming of age’
A classic genre calls for classic recommendations: Flavours of Youth and Nana. The former is a Chinese Donghua, or animation movie, that guides you through the memories of three young adults and their separate experiences with love, friendship and growth in the busy city life in China. Besides the down-to-earth-topics and lovable characters, the animation is breathtaking and makes the experiences of being young and feeling clueless in life seem less daunting.
As for the latter, the Japanese animated series, Nana, tackles the experiences of being a young adult in a more serious manner. This anime addresses themes of heartbreak, fame, friendship and intimacy in such raw and honest ways you can’t help but connect to the vulnerable representations of what it means to find yourself. A story about two girls who share a namesake with the city in Tokyo, Nana is both emotionally mature and comedic to balance it all out
ACTION THAT’LL GET YOUR BLOOD PUMPING
Moving onto the excitement of action, Queen Sono is a South African crime series about a highly trained spy who takes on a dangerous mission as she tries to uncover the secrets behind her mother’s death. This show is thrilling and incredible in its refreshing depiction of Africa outside the stereotypes perpetuated by the West, and its action scenes will have you on the edge of your seat.
An equally thrilling crime story is Article 15, an Indian Hindi-language film that follows the lives of police officers in an environment where discrimination and danger runs rampant. Through the use of music with powerful lyrics and equally powerful scenes, this movie addresses issues in the social structure of India that will make you reevaluate everything you know about politics, government and equality.
to get away FROM REALITY FOR A WHILE
It only makes sense to end these recommendations with my favourite genre, fantasy. The Japanese animated film Howl’s Moving Castle depicts the story of a young girl whose mundane and uneventful life takes a magical turn when a witch curses her, and forces her to leave home. On the journey, she befriends a powerful and beautiful wizard who lives in a flying castle that roams the sky. This movie has one of the most enchanting soundtracks and animation that I have ever come across. It is so imaginative you will feel as if you have entered the magical land yourself.
The final addition to this list is a Brazilian fantasy dystopian series called 3%. This series takes place in the future where only 3% of the population are chosen to leave home and join the Offshore, a paradise island. 3% follows Michele Santana, an orphaned woman as she experiences plot twists, making the show extremely addictive and binge-worthy.
While this list is not even the tip of the iceberg that is international entertainment, it is a starting point to push you forth into a world outside the Western sphere of influence. There are so many different cultures and languages all around us, and subtitles or voiceovers should not be seen as a hindrance but rather an opportunity to expand your interests and explore new things. American movies are great, don’t get me wrong, but there is just so much more to delve into and enjoy; new sceneries and perspectives and the chance to see what’s out there, because man, is there a lot!