5 Of My Favourite Foreign Films To Give You A Glimpse Into World Cinema

Posted on January 19, 2016 in Culture-Vulture, Lists

By Navmi Krishna

2016 has just started and world cinema enthusiasts are already ecstatic over Leonardo DiCaprio’s win at the Golden Globe. Everyone would agree that it has not come a minute sooner that it should have! László Nemes ‘Son of Saul’ has also been creating waves first by premiering at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and now by winning the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film – it is the first Hungarian film to win this award and is all set to try its luck at the 88th Academy Awards.

As the countdown for the Oscars continues, let’s take a look at 5 of the finest foreign language drama movies.

1) Wadjda

Year of release: 2012
Language: Arabic

‘Wadjda’ follows the story of an 11-year-old school girl (named Wadjda) based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who dreams of buying a green bicycle. The story follows her attempts at saving money to make her dream come true, as her mother refuses to buy it since girls riding bicycles is frowned upon in Saudi Arabia. Parallelly, it traces the tension between her mother and father as the latter is all set for a remarriage in pursuit of a son – an heir. Wadjda deals with life in Saudia Arabia. A great watch, I’d say.

2) Monsieur Lazhar

Year of release: 2011
Language: French

Set in Canada, this French film takes us through life in an elementary school in Montreal. After the suicide of a teacher during the school hours, the authorities are in a tight spot – they need to help the students and teachers get through the tragedy while keeping the name of the school intact. Frazzled by the task, the principal appoints Mr. Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant who claims to have taught at his home country, as the substitute teacher. The movie starts off a conversation about the state of education in Canada, the curious concept of ‘death-denying’ and, of course, immigration.

3) About Elly

Year of release: 2009
Language: Persian

About Elly is an Iranian drama directed by Asghar Farhadi. Starring the ever charismatic Golshifteh Farahani in a pivotal role, About Elly deals with the conflict within the middle-class Iranians about balancing the modern and the traditional. In this film, Farhadi brings alive the misadventures that crop up during a weekend getaway of a group friends. Beautifully taken, the movie is an outstanding example of Farhadi’s ability to control the pace of a movie.

4) Two Days One Night

Year of release: 2014
Language: Arabic, French

This is probably the most laid-back movie of the lot. Set in Liège, Belgium, (which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Belgium), the movie traces the struggle of a woman employee who is given a weekend to convince her co-workers to give up their yearly bonus in exchange for her being allowed to remain in service. Starring the fabulous Marion Cotillard, the film is said to be based on a real-life case where a French factory whose production output was lower than other workers to get their bonuses, is fired. The directors also heard about similar cases in Belgium, Italy and USA, and they all raised the question of solidarity.

5) Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Year of release: 2013
Language: French

Probably the most controversial movie in the list, ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour‘ tells the story of Adele, a high school student who finds herself attracted to Emma, a blue-haired free-spirited artist. Dealing with sexuality, passion and the strains of a modern relationship, this movie is much more than a ‘lesbian film’ (if I had a rupee for every time that word was used to describe this movie, I’d have a lot). Every scene is natural – though some might find certain scenes ‘explicit’. My favourite is the scene where Emma and Adele meet after a while, in a restaurant. Watch it for the incredibly real performance of the protagonists.