Foreign: Introduction

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

Kodama

“If you do not like musicals or documentaries or silent films
or foreign films or films in black and white, that is not
an exercise of taste, but simply an indication
that you have not yet evolved into the more
complete filmgoer that we all have waiting inside.”
– Roger Ebert

As you browse the titles of this section, you’ll likely notice one name repeated several times – Hayao Miyazaki. If you’ve been living in a cave for the last 30 years, or you only watch domestic Hollywood films, Miyazaki is the Japanese Walt Disney. But after another decade, Disney will be lucky if he comes to be known as the American Miyazaki. He directs, produces, writes, and edits many of his films. And let’s just say, if animation were a religion, the folks at Disney would be the ones that go door-to-door to convert people and ask for money. Miyazaki, meanwhile, would be God.

If you’re a parent who has yet to see a Miyazaki film, what’s especially worth noting is his use of female protagonists (he consistently passes The Bechdel Test with flying colors). You’d be hard-pressed to find better female role model characters in modern cinema (though some Disney princesses are pretty good) than in his movies. Yet, despite all this, Miyazaki is far more popular in the west than in his home country of Japan (much like Akira Kurosawa was).

“I don’t know how to explain this lack of discernment,” Kurosawa wrote in Something Like an Autobiography. “I can only despair of the character of my own people.”

Now I know when most people hear the words “foreign film,” they immediately shudder, likely dreading the horrible, pain-staking effort it takes to read subtitles. If you’re one of these people, you’ll be happy to find several on this list do not require reading subtitles. Also, if you’re in the aforementioned category, I must include the wonderful quote above.

Alas, here is your chance to broaden those cinematic horizons and experience some of the best children’s and family films from the likes of Japan, England, Ireland, Australia, France, and Iran.

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