For better or worse, American cinema is everywhere. No matter where you are on the globe, you’ll likely run into a significant portion of American-created media, especially in English-speaking regions. Unfortunately, while countries worldwide are deeply saturated in American films, Americans rarely get the chance to watch films from other countries and cultures.
After taking to an online movie forum seeking answers to the question, “Non-Americans, what’s your favorite movie from your country?” and voila, we found our answers. We compiled this quintessential Non-American viewing list so you can expand your horizons.
1. District Nine (2009) – South Africa
District 9 is a remarkable cinematic achievement from South Africa, transcending its sci-fi genre to provide a thought-provoking commentary on apartheid and social injustice. Blomkamp’s inventive storytelling and stunning visual effects resonate with South Africans, reminding them of their history while appealing to global audiences for its fresh take on the alien invasion narrative.
2. City of God (2002) – Brazil
City of God is a powerful representation of Brazil’s vibrant but often overlooked cinema. The film’s raw portrayal of the favelas, coupled with a gripping narrative, paints a vivid picture of the harsh realities many Brazilians face. Its impact lies in its authenticity, drawing viewers into the complex dynamics of Rio de Janeiro’s criminal underworld.
3. Persona (1966) – Sweden
Ingmar Bergman’s Persona is a timeless classic, revered for its profound exploration of the human psyche. Its enigmatic narrative and stunning performances have solidified it as Sweden’s cinematic masterpiece, encapsulating the nation’s fascination with introspection and existentialism.
4. Amores Perros (2000) – Mexico
Amores Perros is celebrated as a cinematic gem that brilliantly weaves together multiple interconnected stories, showcasing Mexico’s rich storytelling tradition. Its gritty portrayal of love and violence in Mexico City captures the country’s emotional depth and societal complexities.
5. Flickering Lights (2000) – Denmark
Flickering Lights is a beloved Danish comedy that highlights the nation’s dark yet endearing humor. This film is a testament to Danish storytelling, blending absurdity and heart, which resonates deeply with its audience, revealing the quirks and camaraderie at the heart of Danish culture. You can never go wrong with Mads Mikkelsen.
6. Goodbye Pork Pie (1981) – New Zealand
Goodbye Pork Pie is New Zealand’s cult classic, celebrated for its charmingly chaotic road trip adventure. Its iconic status in the country’s film history lies in its free-spirited portrayal of Kiwi life, replete with humor and the thrill of the open road.
7. Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) – Canada
A Canadian gem, Bon Cop, Bad Cop blends humor and crime-thriller elements while deftly exploring the cultural dynamics between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. It resonates with Canadians because it can laugh at themselves while celebrating their bilingual identity. One Canadian explains why this is their favorite movie from their home country, “because of how amazingly well it nails the Anglo-Franco relationship in Canada and all of its hilarious quirks and weird subtleties.”
8. [REC] (2007) – Spain
[REC] redefined the horror genre, making it Spain’s proudest contribution to world cinema. Its found footage style and relentless suspense captivate audiences. This film showcases Spain’s ability to evoke terror and unease while drawing from the rich tapestry of its history and culture.
9. Hot Fuzz (2007) – England
Hot Fuzz is a British comedy masterpiece, appreciated for its satirical take on small-town life and the country’s love for quirky humor. It affectionately parodies the quintessential British village while paying homage to the nation’s love for law and order. “It’s quintessentially English, stars some of the greats of British acting over the past 70 years, has a watertight script and some of the best editing I’ve ever seen,” says a fellow Brit.
10. In the Mood for Love (2000) – Hong Kong
Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love is a testament to Hong Kong’s mastery of capturing unspoken emotions’ beauty. Its stunning visuals and melancholic storytelling perfectly encapsulate the city’s aura of mystery and romance.
11. Lion (2016) – Australia
Lion is Australia’s heartwarming tale of identity and belonging, resonating deeply with audiences. Its global success lies in its powerful portrayal of an adopted Indian boy’s quest to find his roots, reflecting the multicultural fabric of modern Australia.
12. In Bruges (2008) – Ireland
In Bruges is a darkly comedic masterpiece celebrating Irish storytelling’s unique charm. With a blend of humor, melancholy, and memorable characters, it captures Ireland’s ability to create a compelling narrative that leaves a lasting impression on its viewers. The most iconic Irish films seem always to star Brandon Gleeson, and they’re always the funniest films you’ve ever seen, yet at once, profound.
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