Beyond Hollywood: World Cinema

The Cup (Phorpa)
The Cup (Phorpa)

Film industries exist in countries around the world, producing stories, ideas and styles of filmmaking unique to the places they are made. Revealing different cultures, communities and languages, watching films from other countries - be it foreign language or films from International English-speaking countries like Australia and New Zealand - provides a refreshing alternative to the Hollywood blockbusters that populate our cinemas.

With children's cinema thriving in countries like Japan, India and Australia and great films emerging from Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Africa and Thailand, there is an exciting array of international and lesser-known European films waiting to be discovered in the Into Film catalogue.

Taking you beyond Hollywood, here we reveal the best of films from around the globe for primary and secondary ages. Including everlasting Into Film favourites and recent discoveries from across the oceans, this list of films offers up exciting adventures, comedies and engaging dramas, from refreshingly different perspectives that are lesser-seen in Hollywood films.    

Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration91 mins

Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)(2014)

Tamil children’s film about two boys desperate to earn enough money to get a slice of pizza from the new pizza shop.

Told in Tamil, this film depicts the encroaching influence of the Western World on the slums of India, as two boys strive for what seems like a simple thing to many of us - to taste a slice of pizza. Highlights inequality amid its comedy and drama.

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The Cup

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration90 mins

The Cup(1999)

A unique and entertaining film from Tibet about two young monks desperate to find a way of watching the 1998 World Cup Final in their monastery.

Directed by a former Buddhist monk, The Cup takes something we're massively familiar with in the UK - the sport of football and World Cup fever - and shows how it has a similar effect on those in places as remote as the Himalayan Mountains.

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Whale Rider

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration101 mins

Whale Rider(2002)

Tradition causes trouble in a family when a young Maori girl wants to take up what she believes is her rightful place at the head of her tribe.

A great coming of age film from New Zealand, much-loved by Into Film members.

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CJ7

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration86 mins

CJ7(2008)

Chinese take on E.T, about a little boy with a new best friend from space, from the director of Shaolin Soccer.

While often Hollywood borrows many of its ideas from international cinema, this is an example of the opposite - a Chinese take on E.T. that goes to show how stories can differ between cultures whilst still remaining universal.

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Oddball and the Penguins

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration96 mins

Oddball and the Penguins(2015)

Charming adventure about an eccentric farmer and his wayward dog who come up with a plan to help protect their town’s endangered penguins.

Another great example on this list of entertaining children's films coming from Australia.

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My Neighbour Totoro

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration82 mins

My Neighbour Totoro(1988)

Sweet, imaginative animated fable about a girl and her sister who move to a forest which is full of friendly spirits.

One of the first Japanese animes produced by the renowned Studio Ghibli and an everlasting world cinema favourite amongst our youngest Into Film members.

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The Cave Of The Yellow Dog

CertU

Age group7–11

Duration89 mins

The Cave Of The Yellow Dog(2005)

A touching story played out against beautiful Mongolian scenery, as a young girl befriends a stray dog, setting off a troubling series of events.

This film presents the spectacular landscapes of Mongolia, showing us a land that many of us will never see in person, and offsets it against a story that's very relatable for people everywhere - that of a young boy and his pet dog.

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The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales...

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration83 mins

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales...(2017)

A trio of animated short stories involving a bunch of witty farmyard animals.

A stylish and refreshing animation from France that moves away from CGI animation and to a delightful hand-drawn style. Adapted from co-director Benjamin Renner’s comic books, these tales of pigs, rabbits ducks and many more are sweet, playful and laugh-out-loud stories which challenge preconceptions about identity, suitable for the youngest audiences.

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Tomboy

CertU

Age group7+

Duration79 mins

Tomboy(2011)

A beautifully understated, naturalistic drama about childhood gender identity confusion that’s both touching and gently humorous.

From revered French director Celine Sciamma comes this sweet and gentle slant on growing up and finding your identity. The film smartly embraces a child’s point of view and generates a hugely compassionate character in Laure, whose story is one that engages with the trials and tribulations we all go through as we grow up into adolescents.

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Mogu & Perol

CertUnclassified

Age group5–14

Duration9 mins

Mogu & Perol(2018)

Two colourful woodland creatures have their friendship tested when they try to share food with each other.

A short animation from the shores of Japan, Mogu and Perol is very different from the traditional ‘anime’ style we expect from this part of the world and instead tells its story without dialogue, using texture and sounds to bring the adorable, battling characters of Mogu and Perol to life.

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Supa Modo

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration74 mins

Supa Modo(2018)

A village come together to make a young girl’s dream of becoming a superhero come true when she is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Told like a modern day fable, Supa Modo is a triumph of international cinema. Set and shot within a rural village in Kenya, its themes are nevertheless universal, ranging from the importance of memories to the heartache of grief. Approached with a light touch, we believe Supa Modo is a film that can truly make a difference.

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Wadjda

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration96 mins

Wadjda(2012)

A sweet and uplifting story about ten-year-old girl Wadjda who refuses to let the fact she's a girl stop her from doing the things she wants to do.

The first ever film by a female Saudi Arabian director provides a very human and child-centric story that brilliantly engages both primary and secondary ages.

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Persepolis

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Persepolis(2007)

Adapted from Marjane Satrapi's brilliantly funny autobiographical graphic novel about a rebellious young girl's experience of revolutionary Iran.

A popular title at Into Film, the animation and humour make this a great introduction to world cinema and black and white films for young audiences.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration97 mins

Hunt for the Wilderpeople(2016)

A troubled teenager is sent to foster carers in a remote location, until a turn of events forces him to flee and try his luck living wild in the bush.

Written and directed by well-known New Zealand comedian Taika Waititi, this quintessentially Kiwi film is a raucous hit across all secondary ages.

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Mustang

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration97 mins

Mustang(2015)

Five orphaned sisters are imprisoned by their family to guard their virtue in preparation to marry them off.

Oscar®-nominated Turkish drama inspired by the directors own experiences as a teenager growing up in a traditional community.

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Offside

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration87 mins

Offside(2006)

Warm and original Iranian film about a group of girls prohibited from entering a football stadium who will do whatever it takes to get in.

This Iranian film - which sees a football-obsessed girl trying to sneak into a World Cup match, despite rules against women entering the stadium - boasts both an important message about Iranian society's treatment of girls, and really fun story to go with it.

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Mary and Max

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration88 mins

Mary and Max(2009)

A witty and touching Australian claymation about two unlikely pen pals with a unique connection.

This unforgettable and hugely moving Australian animation depicts a friendship that spans the globe, dealing with issues around autism, depression and friendship, while contrasting Australian and American ways of life.

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Hero

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration95 mins

Hero(2002)

Visually stunning, amazingly choreographed martial arts film set in ancient China about a warlord in fear of his life as rulers plot against him.

Asian martial arts films are some of the most well-known international films of recent decades, and Hero's stunning visuals and jaw-dropping choreography make it a particularly striking look at a different kind of action movie.

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Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (The Way He Looks)

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration93 mins

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (The Way He Looks)(2014)

Brazilian romantic drama about a blind student whose relationship with his best friend is threatened by the arrival of a handsome new boy in school.

This Brazilian drama explores issues around blindness, while also capturing the universal awkwardness of young love and adolescence.

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The Golden Dream

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration108 mins

The Golden Dream(2013)

Unconventional road movie about a group of undocumented teen Guatemalan migrants and their perilous journey to a new life in the US.

This Mexican film - much as many films from the Americas do - explores the perceived failings of the American dream, but is also a moving testament to the power of friendship in difficult circumstances.

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Let The Right One In

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration110 mins

Let The Right One In(2008)

Beautifully atmospheric, haunting Swedish horror about a bullied kid who makes friends with the vampire who's moved in next door.

This Swedish horror is part a story about young love and friendship, and part vampire movie. The strange mix proved so successful that the film was remade in Hollywood. Perhaps you could compare the two versions in your club?

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Parasite

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration132 mins

Parasite(2019)

A destitute Korean household devise a complex plan that finds them infiltrating a more wealthy and influential family.

The fact that Parasite became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the 2020 Academy Awards® already makes it one of the more famous films outside of Hollywood but this Korean drama is fantastically entertaining in its own right, smartly and humourously exploring the negative effects capitalism and class can have on the family unit.

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A Silent Voice

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration130 mins

A Silent Voice(2016)

A poignant, heartfelt anime about a young deaf girl who moves to a new school and is bullied by her classmates.

Films with deaf characters in lead roles have never been easy to discover but in Japanese anime A Silent Voice, there is a concerted effort to make sure that Shoko, the new girl at school who happens to be deaf, is not defined by her inability to hear. Her presence is not a surprise as Japanese anime often has strong women at the center of their stories.

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Bande De Filles (Girlhood)

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration110 mins

Bande De Filles (Girlhood)(2014)

Energetic and honest coming-of-age drama about a teenager’s new friendship with a group of girls in the suburbs of Paris.

Prolific French filmmaker Celine Sciamma puts urban Paris under her lens as she follows Mariéme, a young girl from a difficult home who attempts to establish herself through new friendships which open up the city to her in different and sometimes dangerous ways.

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Intermission

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration17 mins

Intermission(2019)

Three teenage boys hoping to catch the latest blockbuster head to the cinema, where one of them has a potentially life-changing experience.

Not only was this short film from France produced outside of Hollywood, it also showcases the risks we often need to take to move away from the norm and possibly discover something new. Intermission is a celebration of classic international cinema seen through the eyes of a teenager who is still discovering what he wants from life and art.

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