International TV and film content is where it’s at these days. Although the US does continue to produce some fairly good (and addictive content), many countries outside of the West have equally as good content which tends to (frustratingly) often fly under the radar outside of their own borders. This seems to be, in my opinion, because if it’s not critically acclaimed (i.e. the winner of a BAFTA or a film festival of some sort), then there is a lack of incentive to give it a exposure by the media in the West. Films like Oscar winning South Korean movie, Parasite for example have done a great job of gaining Western exposure – but the Academy Award win does play a significant part in why that has been possible.
In this post I’ve decided to celebrate some international content which I’ve watched on Netflix and would highly recommend you do too (if you fancy, of course).
He Even Has Your Eyes – France
A black French family find themselves in an uphill battle when they decide adopt a white baby. I honestly loved this film, it was comedic but knew when to take itself seriously too. The adoption process is not one that is free from institutional racism and this film does a good job of showing that. Similarly, although I’m sure it definitely happens, we hardly hear of cases where black families adopt white children, so for me, the film has strong premise alone that made it really interesting to watch. The couple at the heart of the film were adorable and I rooted for them at every step. Ultimately, it’s not just about race though but about love, family and perseverance.
Ajeeb Daastaans – India
These series of short films, compiled together in a two-hour ish film are simply amazing. They are able to draw you in, get you emotionally invested in the characters of the story and then – in some cases – leave you hanging. The first story is about a poor man who falls in love with the wealthy but suffering wife of his employer; seems like your typical love story at first but there is more to it then meets the eye. My favourite story is the last one which is predominately done in sign language and explores two parents trying to adapt to life with their daughter who is slowly losing her hearing. I could continue but an easier option is probably just watching for yourself! 😉
You’ve Got This – Mexico
What happens when as a woman your star is rising (you’re smoothly sailing to the top in your career) and your partner decides now is the time he wants to have a child? This is exactly the situation protagonist, Ceci finds herself in with her husband, Alex. Interestingly, she has never wanted children and so her husband sets out to prove one is a good idea – something that seems destined for failure. I enjoyed this film and the themes it tackled; also can we take a moment to appreciate just how stunning the lead actress (Esmeralda Pimentel) is?? Anyway, I’ve always been intrigued in media portrayal of women that don’t want children since growing to love Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy whose storylines predominately centred around this fact. It’s still a counter cultural in the media but actually more common then we think, so I’m interested to see how representation increases around this stance.
Diamond City – South Africa
When I say this series had me GRIPPED throughout you can believe me! After becoming entangled in a conspiracy involving government officials, her superiors at work and the human trafficking of women, lawyer Lendiwe finds herself falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. The way this series ended had me on tenderhooks – it will definitely be a great injustice if a second season is not produced.
It’s Okay to Not be Okay – South Korea
This recent watch of mine really melted my heart. It has been on my radar for a while and has come highly recommended by friends, and I can now see why. It’s gentle and nuanced portrayal of mental health makes it a realistic, encouraging and I’m sure even relatable watch for many. I love how each episode is themed around a different children’s story and the significant investment this show makes in each character’s personal development. At its heart it’s about the power and meaning of family but it is also intertwined in a complicated love story between the two protagonists – renowned children’s book author Ko Mun-yeong and a carer on a psychiatric ward – Moon Gang-tae (played by Kim Soo-hyun, who is apparently currently the highest paid actor in South Korea!)
Betty en NY – Mexico/US
This heartwarming telenovela was one of the best things I watched over a lockdown. Based on the original telenovela the popular US TV show Ugly Betty was based on, this series follows Betty as she takes a job as an EA in a fashion house – finds herself and finds love and fights for it! There are so many hilarious moments and the production of this show is so intricate – from the gowns to the sets themselves – everything is to be admired. Do bear in mind though that as a telenovela it’s quite a lengthy show, spanning over 100 episodes I believe. But even with that in mind I was so disappointed when it finished!
Citation – Nigeria
At the start of this film, we see that the protagonist student, Moremi (Temi Otedola) has filed a complaint against one of her university lecturers for attempted sexual assault. What follows is a battle of he said/she said accompanied by flashbacks which reveal the truth to us watching of what really happened. Moremi is a smart, determined female character, I like that she wouldn’t take the injustice she experienced lying down. I did find the constant jumping in between the present and the past a bit confusing at times but there is good commentary to be taken from this film on the many obstacles victims of assault and harassment face when trying to ensure their perpetrators are punished.
The Fishermen’s Diary – Cameroon
This remarkable film chronicles a young girl called Ekah who lives in a fishing village with her dad and longs for an education. She often sees all the young school kids running through the village and longs to be amongst them. However, he dad – one amongst many in the village who don’t see educating girls as a necessary investment – refuses to let her go to school. However, this doesn’t stop Ekah and she decides to take her education into her own hands; – the question is, will she succeed? The sombre realism of this film, was saddening and made it a hard, but yet inspiring watch as you witness this resilient little girl overcome so many obstacles to obtain something many of us take for granted.
That’s all from me! Let me know if you have watched any of these or have some international film/drama recommendations for me to add to my list.
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