Take a whirlwind tour of highly acclaimed cinema from around the world. While the Oscars, Golden Globes, and other U.S.-based ceremonies give nods to international films in a few categories, lots of countries host their own annual awards. The honorees are worth checking out. We’ve picked several recent winners to add to your watch list, no passport required.
Visit the library to check out DVDs or Blu-rays, or place your selection/s on hold and pick up at the drive-up window.
The winner of multiple categories of the Japan Academy Film Prize and Mainichi Film Awards, Best Feature Film at the Asian Film Awards, and the Palme d'Or at Cannes, Shoplifters (DVD and Hoopla) met with resounding critical and commercial success. Understated and moving, this is a story of a found family trying to survive on the fringes of society. Director Hirokazu Koreeda excels at profiling the humanity of his characters, raising thought-provoking questions about what it means to be a family.
One of Australia's highest-grossing films of all time, Lion (DVD and Blu-ray) swept all twelve categories at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. Based on the autobiography A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, Lion tells the story of an Indian boy who becomes separated from his family and is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. As an adult, he tries to find his origins and understand his identity. With compelling performances by Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, this emotional journey remains true to its source.
Despite Iranian courts banning him from filmmaking for twenty years and preventing him from leaving the country, director Jafar Panahi has continued to create internationally acclaimed films. His docufiction Taxi (DVD, Kanopy) won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. This portrait of modern-day Tehran blurs the lines between fact and fiction, making social commentary possible under the guise of what might be scripted dialogue. As Panahi navigates the streets of Tehran as a taxi driver, he captures conversations on religion, politics, and life, as his passengers come and go. From the mundane to the profound, the entire cinematic world is limited to his taxi, but speaks to the trials and tribulations of everyday Iranians across the country.
Chaitanya Tamhane’s directorial debut Court (DVD and Kanopy) is notable for using non-professional actors and first-time crew members. The filmmaker's choices to work outside the confines of conventional filmmaking came together to create a compelling movie and win India’s National Film Award. The timely drama follows the trial of a social activist who is accused of inciting a local worker’s suicide through his protest songs. Long, uncut scenes and minimal camera movements add to the film's sense of authenticity.
After premiering to acclaim at Cannes, the Mauritanian-French drama Timbuktu (DVD and Kanopy) went on to win five categories at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. When extremists occupy the city of Timbuktu in Mali, their brutal restrictions and laws are at odds with the lively West African culture and the local sect of Islam. Soon a cattleman and his family are caught in the crosshairs. Equal parts terror and beauty, and woven through with outrage and wit, this thoughtful film is much more than a political statement.
Both of director Benedikt Erlingsson’s feature films have won the Nordic Council Film Prize, including his 2018 comedy-drama Woman at War (DVD). In this offbeat and sharp movie, eco-activist Halla plots increasingly serious acts of sabotage on an industrial plant in Iceland. When a long-forgotten adoption application resurfaces, she has to reevaluate what she’s willing to risk in her fight for the environment. The quirky treatment of a serious topic and the building tension make for an unforgettable viewing experience.
For even more hours of viewing from around the globe, check out an International Roku: watch the latest Korean dramas, Nigeria’s Nollywood movies, anime on Crunchyroll, telenovelas on Univision, and lots more.