The world of movie-making, stars and prestigious awards has been centred around the mecca of film-making for decades; Hollywood. Big-budget blockbusters pave their way onto our screens and fill up our Netflix suggestions year in, year out, and although there is nothing wrong with this, I sometimes feel as though it can be compared to only trying the sandwiches at a lunch buffet. The table is filled with a variety of other delicious snacks and foods, yet, we stick to what we know we like; sandwiches. When in reality, there is a whole world of films outside of Hollywood that have the potential to suit our tastebuds right in front of us. As Bong Joon Ho, director of Korean film ‘Parasite’ said in his infamous Oscars speech ‘Once you can overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films’ or in terms of our buffet analogy ‘once you can overcome the moreish tastes of sandwiches… you may find you also like crisps’.
However, you may be wondering, where do I start? It seems such effort to trail through articles, reviews, clips and streaming sights to find such films that might resonate with me, so, in order to make your life a little easier and to contribute to the celebrations of the University of Kent’s Worldfest, our annual month-long festivities honouring cultural diversity, I have decided to compile a list of international films that may just make you peckish…
City of God (2002) – Brazil
A story of two boys navigating life in Rio de Janeiro’s favela ‘City of God’ one aims to become a photographer, the other to become a kingpin. They both experience the violence and brutality of growing up around gang wars. Will they escape corruption? Can they find ways to live ‘normal’ lives?
Akira (1988) – Japan
An anime set in 2019 Tokyo, in a world post-WW3, following main characters Tetsuo and Kaneda. Tetsuo has gained superpowers from an experimental government facility and begins to use his powers for evil, fellow biker gang member and best friend Kaneda decides to follow his friend on a quest to save him from his evil fate. It may seem children friendly, but it isn’t.
And Then We Danced (2019) – Georgia
A love story between two male dancers, Merab and Irakli, in the National Georgian Ensemble. Merab must evaluate what is important to him as he deals with the pressures of society, his career and his relationships. An insightful exploration of the role of dance in Georgian culture, masculinity, rivalry and romance.
Amour (2012) – France
A slow-paced film which follows the story of a retired elderly couple; Georges and Anne. Georges becomes a carer for Anne and the world of old age, love and decision-making opens up to present inevitable, philosophical difficulties and discussion for its characters (quite emotional).
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) – Romania
Set in 1987 communist Romania, follows the suspense filled story of Gabita and her friend Otilia in search for an abortion at a time where such an act is punishable by death. Described as ‘a dark socio-political critique’ so full of suspense it could almost be categorised as a horror.
Us and Them (2018) – China
Following the trials and tribulations of two lovers; Xiaoxiao and Jianqing. From their meeting on a train, to falling in love, to falling out of love, to considering a second chance. A coming-of-age story surrounded by the realities of many young couples, carried by its honest characters.
Wadjda (2012) – Saudi Arabia
A film about young womanhood in Saudi Arabia, 10-year-old Wadjda wants a bike, but society won’t let her, she commits to finding a way to make enough money to buy a bike herself, entering a Qur’an recitation competition at her school. From the first ever female Saudi-Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour who also wrote it.
Timbuktu (2014) – Mali/Mauritania
Looks at the relationship between Islam and radicalisation through the story of a nuclear family living within Jihad territory. They begin living relatively unaffected by the harshness of the regime, but life changes for them and important political themes are explored as a result.
A Separation (2011) – Iran
Simin wants to live abroad and better the life of his daughter, Nader wants to stay in Iran and take care of his ill father, is divorce the best option for them? how will they navigate it? A beautiful, yet heart-breaking story.
Road to Yesterday (2015) – Nigeria
A slow-paced story following an estranged couple travelling to their relative’s funeral, secrets are uncovered and wider truths from the past are revealed. A lesson in communication described as ‘natural like you’re watching a real situation’.
3 Idiots (2009) – India
A light-hearted, inspirational comedy drama based around 3 college friends Rancho, Farhan and Raju. They recollect on their college memories as Farhan and Raju take a journey to find their old companion Rancho at his last known address. Described as a ‘Bollywood type soap opera that is somewhat a significant social critique at the same time’.
If internationalising your film-consumption is something that has intrigued you, its worth looking into the variety of events going on at the University of Kent in celebration of Worldfest. From Virtual Cinemas, The Cultural Food Calendar, Music Therapy Days and reflective talks from a variety of societies, getting involved with the international has never been so accessible!
Follow this link to see upcoming Worldfest events: https://www.kent.ac.uk/worldfest#events