I know what you’re thinking: ‘foreign’ films are for know it all’s and hipsters. There’s a certain stigma regarding non-Hollywood films as being slow and uninteresting. At the end of the day, more people would rather reach for the newest hit release than a film from Poland or China. It’s not their fault, really; it’s just that these foreign films are not as accessible or widely available as the classic blockbuster. I know that when I discovered foreign films, I had found a whole new world of cinema and storytelling unlike any Western film.
I first began my journey with ‘foreign’ film throughout a college course in global film. I learned that the more appropriate term for foreign film is ‘global film’. The term foreign has a negative connotation, as if it’s something odd or different. The term global is far more appropriate as a way of describing these films. I was enlightened by how different the style of these films were from Western films. These films had so much to say about the culture and history of that film’s region.
I learned about the indigenous people of Australia and how they were treated by the imposing British. What’s worse? I had absolutely no knowledge about the Aboriginal people, and how they were berated and forced to assimilate. However, I learned these things through films like Rabbit Proof Fence and Sampson and Delilah. I learned about the struggles of undocumented citizens through the film El Norte. I learned about the struggle of a family in China as Communism began to take over and the hardships they faced in the film To Live.
The wonderful thing about global films is that they transport you to another country, another culture, or another time period. These films break the formulaic mold of most western cinema. They don’t all have happy endings, the boy doesn’t always get the girl, and the family never truly moves on from the loss of their child. These films are real, truthful, and often gritty. However, they are important to watch and we can all learn something about the world from watching these films.
I’ve enjoyed watching films from all over the world, and I bet you will too. So, I encourage you to check out the selection of ‘foreign’ films from your local library or even through Netflix. Who knows you might be pleasantly surprised. It could give you a whole new outlook on the world. You could learn about an issue you weren’t aware of, a group of people you didn’t know existed, and a time period you’ve always wanted to know about. All of that can be discovered through film, so get out and explore it.