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Best Family Movies: The 6 Best Foreign Films for Family Movie Night

Topics of Discussion
American children will enjoy this glimpse into the daily routines of a Mongolian family. You might want to point out and discuss the various scenes in which the family members observe Buddhist and superstitious practices. An old woman tells a fable about a yellow dog (from which the film earns its title) that is about reincarnation. Use our “Basics of Buddhism” article to discuss how the Buddhist idea of rebirth differs from what the Bible says about being born again.

Where to Watch
The Cave of the Yellow Dog is only available on DVD and can be purchased from Amazon or rented from Netflix. You may also find it in your local public library.

Best Family Movies … Foreign Films for Preteens and Older

The Hundred-Foot Journey (France, 2014)

Definitely the most accessible film in this list, The Hundred-Foot Journey is in English despite its French setting and Indian characters. It’s a Hollywood production starring the wonderful actress Helen Mirren. The story focuses on an Indian family that immigrates to France and opens an Indian restaurant directly across the street from a top-rated French restaurant run by the proud and highly competitive Madame Mallory (Mirren). Cultures clash, and an oft-hilarious war ensues between the two businesses. While the film addresses serious issues, it is also full of delightful comedic moments and, yes, sumptuous food.

Topics of Discussion
This movie is packed full of life lessons that parents can easily connect back to Scripture. Loving your neighbor as yourself is a central struggle for the characters in this film, as well as prejudice and jealousy. Discuss how the characters evolved over the course of the film as they realize that their enemies can, in fact, be their friends. Parents can also challenge kids to think of ways to help immigrants in their community adjust to life in a new culture by showing the love of Christ.

Where to Watch
The Hundred-Foot Journey is available on DVD and Blu-ray and can be streamed from iTunesGoogle PlayVudu and Amazon.

Wadjda (Saudi Arabia, 2012)

Ten-year-old Wadjda’s dream is to own a bicycle to ride like her neighborhood friend Abdullah, who is a boy. However, unfavorable attitudes about women and bicycles cause her parents to refuse. She decides to enter a qur’anic recitation contest with the aim of using the prize money to buy the bike herself. In a neorealist style, the movie Wadjda highlights the challenges girls and women face due to the restrictions of conservative Islam.

Topics of Discussion
Parents of American girls will have a lot to discuss about the freedoms they enjoy in contrast with Wadjda and her mother. Not all of Wadjda’s behavior and decisions are commendable; help your children navigate the decisions she made. The subplot of Wadjda’s father taking a second wife because her mother cannot give him a son is worth exploring. Finally, share your opinions about the end of the film. Was it a happy ending? A sad one? Or both? The Providence Children’s Film Festival has a great Wadjda film guide available online.

Interesting Note
Wadjda is not only the first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia but also the first directed by a Saudi woman. It was also the first Saudi Arabian film submitted to the Academy Awards for nomination. As a result of the movie, the nation relaxed their rules about women and bikes. Now women are permitted to ride bikes in parks when accompanied by a male guardian.

Where to Watch
Wadjda is available on DVD and Blu-ray and can be streamed on iTunesGoogle PlayVuduYouTube and Amazon.

Best Family Movies … Foreign Films for Older Teens and Adults

I Am Not a Witch (Zambia, 2017)

For most American children, the word witch conjures up the fantastical image of a long-nosed woman with a black hat riding a broomstick. However, in many African countries, witches are still believed to be very real and very dangerous. Women, especially those who are elderly, are accused of being witches and forced into camps where they are separated from society and “magically” restrained from doing harm.

In I Am Not a Witch, a nine-year-old, orphan girl is accused of witchcraft in Zambia and forced into a labor camp. The filmmaker presents the story in all of its cruel absurdity. Viewers will laugh at the ridiculousness of it all while at the same time clench their fists in frustration at the reality of the persecution of these women.

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Max Power was raised in Sub-Saharan Africa as a missionary kid and returned to the US to study technology, art, and film in university. He is now back in Africa serving as a Media Specialist alongside his wife of seventeen years and their two kids.