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.    

Felix

CertUnclassified

Age group7–14

Duration94 mins

Felix(2013)

An uplifting South African film about a 13-year-old talented musician who must earn a place in his new school’s jazz concert.

This vibrant and upbeat film not only showcases life in Cape Town, but in Felix's dream of being a saxophonist, also portrays a character with more unconventional aspirations than we often see.

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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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Paper Planes

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration96 mins

Paper Planes(2014)

Australian family drama about a boy with an unusual talent for making paper planes.

This imaginative film from Australia showcases how nurturing even the most unusual of talents - paper plane making, for instance - can be used to help a person navigate the difficulties in their life.

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Like Stars On Earth

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration160 mins

Like Stars On Earth(2007)

Bollywood family film about a likeable underachiever, an eight-year-old with a new teacher who recognises his hidden talent.

This Bollywood film is Disney's first foray into Hindi-language cinema, which in itself goes to demonstrate how important international cinema is. Even further - its based on the childhood of revered Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.

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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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I Am Kalam

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration88 mins

I Am Kalam(2010)

A funny, moving tale about an Indian boy called Chhotu whose dreams of going to school are granted by a benevolent Prince.

Set in Rajasthan, this is an engaging and uplifting Bollywood film for children with a simple and important message about equality.

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When Marnie Was There

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

When Marnie Was There(2014)

A shy girl sent to the country to recover from asthma discovers an abandoned mansion and begins to explore its mysteries with her new friend Marnie.

A beautiful and enigmatic Japanese anime, produced by the makers of My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.

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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 backdropped by beautiful Mongolian scenery, as little Nansal befriends a stray dog.

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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Wadjda

CertPG

Age group7+

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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When Marnie Was There

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

When Marnie Was There(2014)

A shy girl sent to the country to recover from asthma discovers an abandoned mansion and begins to explore its mysteries with her new friend Marnie.

A beautiful and enigmatic Japanese anime, produced by the makers of My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.

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The Boy and the Beast

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration120 mins

The Boy and the Beast(2015)

An angry young human runaway called Ren is adopted by Kumatetsu, a bear, who brings him to the land of the beasts as his apprentice.

For those that enjoy Studio Ghibli films, this is an exciting alternative Japanese anime made by a different studio.

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Sonita

CertPG

Age group14+

Duration91 mins

Sonita(2015)

Documentary about Sonita, a young Afghan rapper determined to make her voice heard in spite of the repressive society she criticises in her lyrics.

Sonita is a young Afghan girl who strives to become a rapper, and who rallies against the injustices within her own society, painting a far more inspiring and hopeful story from the troubled Middle East than we often see in Western media.

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Wadjda

CertPG

Age group7+

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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Kauwboy

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration81 mins

Kauwboy(2012)

A heartwarming story about ten year-old Jojo whose life finds a new sense of purpose when he discovers an injured Jackdaw and nurses it back to health

An award-winning Dutch children's drama that sensitively explores themes of grief and father son relationships from the point of view of a young person.

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Die Rakete (The Rocket)

Cert12

Age group11–14

Duration96 mins

Die Rakete (The Rocket)(2013)

A boy who is believed to bring bad luck to everyone around him leads his family and two new friends through Laos to find a new home.

A rare and intriguing children's drama from Southeast Asia.

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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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Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration215 mins

Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India(2001)

A Bollywood-style sports film in which Indian villagers are challenged to a cricket match by the British after refusing to pay their land taxes.

A Bollywood film that focuses on something that many in both England and India are obsessed with - cricket - and proving that the classic Hollywood sports movie/underdog story can be transposed to anywhere in the world, with any sport.

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Alice

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration82 mins

Alice(1988)

Czech master of surreal animation Jan Svankmajer brings his dark talents to a magically creepy, loose adaptation of Lewis Carroll's loopy fantasy.

Most us will know the story of Alice in Wonderland, but this Czech film presents the classic story in a truly unique way - one that's unlikely would ever have seen the light of day had it been pitched in Hollywood.

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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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The Idol

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration99 mins

The Idol(2015)

The true story of Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf who, growing up in Gaza, aspired to compete on the reality TV show ‘Arab Idol’.

There will doubtless be plenty of young people across the UK who dream of going on a TV talent show - and this Palestinian drama demonstrates that children across the world have very similar dreams.

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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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Ilo Ilo

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration95 mins

Ilo Ilo(2013)

Slow burning, heartfelt family drama set in 1990s Singapore, capturing the difficulties of family life via the friendship between a boy and a maid.

This Singaporean film shows that financial crises and tensions surrounding immigrants occur all over the world, providing a mirror to recent news events in the UK, as well as an absorbing drama about family life.

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My Skinny Sister

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration93 mins

My Skinny Sister(2015)

Compelling Swedish drama about a girl who struggles with the knowledge of her older sister’s eating disorder.

Dealing with eating disorders, this Swedish drama covers with a hard-hitting subject that can affect people from anywhere. Important for raising awareness around these issues, this film is also a brilliant Scanadavian coming-of-age tale.

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We Shall Overcome

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration109 mins

We Shall Overcome(2006)

Set in 1960s Denmark, this coming-of-age story sees a young Danish boy fighting back against his oppressive headmaster. A really inspirational watch.

This Danish film demonstrates that the struggles of transitioning into a new school are universal, and also has a global thread running through it, as young Frits is influenced to fight back against tyranny by learning about the American Civil Rights movement.

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The Black Hen

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration90 mins

The Black Hen(2016)

Two young boys attempt to make money from selling the eggs of a hen they have found against the backdrop of a ceasefire in a war-torn area of Nepal.

This film shines a light on an oft-ignored conflict in northern Nepal, and boasts a moving friendship between two boys from different backgrounds who have to navigate the tricky political background of their homeland to keep their egg-selling business going.

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52 Tuesdays

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration110 mins

52 Tuesdays(2013)

Australian coming-of-age drama about a sixteen-year-old’s weekly meetings with her mother, who is undergoing gender reassignment.

This Australian film boasts a unique format: as the characters it focuses on only meet once a week, every Tuesday, so the film was shot over the course of one year - with filming only taking place once a week, every Tuesday.

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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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Vi är bäst! (We are the Best!)

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration97 mins

Vi är bäst! (We are the Best!)(2013)

Joyous, energetic Swedish coming-of-age comedy in which three teenagers decide to form a punk band in 1980s Stockholm.

For fans of recent Irish film Sing Street, We Are The Best is a Swedish film that sees three teenage girls starting a punk band in a joyous celebration of youth set against the wintry background of 1980s Stockholm.

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Mary and Max

Cert12

Age group11+

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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A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration101 mins

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night(2014)

Middle Eastern set, film noir inspired fairy tale about a female vampire stalking the outlaws of her town.

This hugely stylish Iranian-American fairytale combines cultures, cinematic influences and music from several decades, and melds Middle Eastern and American cinematic tendencies to beautiful effect.

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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 immigrants 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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Where Do We Go Now?

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration98 mins

Where Do We Go Now?(2011)

A witty and heartfelt satire on the absurdity of war set in a half-Christian, half-Muslim village.

Starring the film’s director Nadine Labaki, this is charming and original example of modern Lebanese cinema that explores topical themes of religious conflict, tradition and the role of women.

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Timbuktu

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration94 mins

Timbuktu(2014)

Thought-provoking drama exploring the effect of Islamist occupation in a remote city in West Africa.

With little African cinema in UK distribution this is a rare and important film from Mauritius made by a celebrated African director. A thought-provoking drama it features some difficult scenes that make it one for our older audience members only.

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Howl's Moving Castle

CertU

Age group5–16

Duration119 mins

Howl's Moving Castle(2004)

Japanese animated epic about a crotchety wizard living in a strange castle who saves a young hat-maker, who is then cursed by a jealous witch.

Studio Ghibli animations may be in Japanese, but they're always hugely popular with our members, and this typically gorgeous film from the legendary studio is a fantastic way to introduce young people to Japanese animation.

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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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