20 Foreign Movies To Watch With Kids

My children are lovers of foreign films.



The girls fell in love with international cinema as toddlers.

Indian movies are their favorite; they were captivated by Bollywood beats from the moment they first heard them, and they were spellbound by each storyline they saw unfold on screen.

As time went on, they expanded their international film list from Bollywood favorites to intriguing, and often complex, stories from all around the globe. These films, over time, would shape so much of who they would become.

Even Nasi loves foreign movies. 

I, myself, have always been an international movie geek. When I was fifteen, I became enamored with Italian films after watching Il Postino. I spent months reading Pablo Neruda’s passionate love poems after watching it, and I dreamed of living in a small Italian village.

Everything about foreign films enraptured me; there was something about the way international cinema took me on intense emotional rollercoasters, only to leave me with a cliffhanger at the end. There was something about the ambiguous tailspin my heart would be left in that always drew me back to these movies, although my emotions would be a wreck!

These films made me think and feel in new ways, and they opened my eyes to worlds I didn’t know existed.

You see, before I had my passport I had a Blockbuster card. The foreign film section was always my first stop; I’d rummage through the shelves, sometimes for over an hour, searching for cinematic masterpieces. Foreign movies showed me the world long before I ever traveled overseas.

I’ve passed my love of global cinema on to my children, and you can do the same with yours.

Using foreign films as a homeschool resource

My junior high teachers were radical hippies from the 1960s and they taught us in very unconventional ways. In seventh grade, one of my favorite teachers, Cindy Gomez, taught a class on social history. We learned about adolescent social developments and social history from the 1930s-1980s by watching movies from each of these decades.

All Quiet on the Western Front taught me about the struggles of a young German soldier’s return to civilian life after fighting in the trenches during WWI; The Breakfast Club gave a glimpse into suburban high school students in the 1980s. To Sir With Love opened our eyes to 1960s London and its racial and class issues, and Easy Rider drew us into the world of the end of the 1960s and the lives of two free-spirited, motorcycle riding friends on a adventurous journey of self-discovery.

Most don’t realize that movies are powerful learning tools.

Whether one’s family homeschools or not, one can easily incorporate films as supplemental learning material for one’s children.

There is so much educational value in foreign films.

20 international movies you and your children are sure to love:

1. pahuna

Pahuna is a heartwarming story of three Nepalese siblings who end up on the adventure of a lifetime. When their village is attacked, the children flee with their mother and neighbors to India for safety. As they are leaving, their mother decides she will stay behind to look for their father and sends the children ahead with the other villagers. When the children hear one of the village elders say that the church they are seeking refugee in has priests who eat children and who take their religion from them, they decide not to follow the rest of their neighbors and will have to survive on their own.

What comes next is a beautiful expression of sibling love, childhood innocence and survival.

Where to watch: At publishing, Pahuna is available on Netflix.

how to learn from the film:

  • Study Nepal and the Sikkim region of India.

  • Study if there is still conflict in this region—what caused the violence?

  • Talk about communal living and the idea of “a village” raising children.

  • In the film, the elder references religious beliefs—research the spiritual beliefs practiced in Nepal.

  • Talk about the emotions of children being separated from their parents—how would your children feel if they were in this situation?

  • Find ways your children can work together as a team.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

2. The African Doctor

The African Doctor is based on the true story of Seyolo Zankoto, a young doctor from Zaire who recently graduated from medical school in France. He’s offered a job in a small French village, where many of the residents have never seen a Black person before. The story follows him, his wife and two children as they all learn to adjust to the people around them, and as the people learn to adjust to them.

The Zankoto family triumphs against racism and prejudice to become important members of the community.

Where to watch: At publishing, The African Doctor is available on Netflix.

how to learn from the film:

  • The country of Zaire is now The Democratic Republic of the Congo (not to be mistaken with the Republic of Congo)—study the history of the country and its name change.

  • Study present-day Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbor, Republic of Congo.

  • Zaire was once a part of “Belgian Congo” and was brutalized for years under Belgian colonial rule. Talk about colonialism and how it destroys nations; ask your children what they think about colonialism and its global impact.

  • Talk to your children about adapting to new places. How would they feel moving to a new country where no one looked like them.

  • Ask your children what does it mean to be a good neighbor. How would they treat a family who had just arrived from another country? How could they be a good neighbor to them?

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

3. The Idol

The Idol is based on the true story of Mohammed Assaf, a young singer from Gaza who would go on to win “Arab Idol”. Mohammed finds his passion for singing as a child; during this time he, his sister and childhood friends start a band and perform at events around town. Tragedy hits his family and Mohammed buries his singing dreams; years later, inspired by an old friend, he decides to audition for “Arab Idol.”

With the auditions being held in Egypt, Mohammed has to find a way to get across the border. In a series of miraculous events, he is able to audition, earn a place on the show and ultimately becomes a symbol of hope and resistance for Palestinians around the globe.

Where to watch: The Idol can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and Youtube.

how to learn from the film:

  • Gaza is a literal open-air prison. Study how the governments of Egypt and Israel have trapped the people of Gaza.

  • Due to constant Israeli military aggression against Gaza and its people, over 50 percent of Gazan children have PTSD, and 70 percent of them have nightmares on a regular basis. Talk with your family about war trauma and its impact on children.

  • In the film, Mohammed and his band perform on “Palestinian Idol” via Skype as the Israeli government restricts travel between Gaza and the West Bank—research the blockade against Gaza.

  • Gaza’s water supply and electricity are controlled by the Israeli government—research this injustice.

  • One key theme of the movie is overcoming hardships and pursuing one’s dreams—have conversations with your children about perseverance.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

4. the kid who would be king

The Kid Who Would Be King is a British movie set in modern-day London and is a remake of the classic story of King Author and his knights.

In the movie, a young boy, Alex, stumbles upon a sword stuck in a stone while running from bullies. He pulls the sword out and notices a strange inscription on it that he’s unable to read. After an internet search, Alex and his best friend realize it is the sword of Excalibur.

After a series of magical events, Alex discovers that he’s been chosen to prevent all of England from becoming the slaves of the evil Morgana, and he enlists a group of unlikely allies.

Where to watch: The Kid Who Would Be King can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the film:

  • Read the story of King Author and the Roundtable and discuss it.

  • In the movie, the island of Cornwall is mentioned—research its history. Do the people of Cornwall consider themselves British or do they have their own unique culture? A famous couple just became the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall—who are they?

  • Stonehenge is seen numerous times in the film—research these unique rock structures and its history.

  • London is rich with communities from all over the globe—research them and their neighborhoods.

  • Listen for unique British words. Take notes to see what words are different than those used in U.S. English.

  • In the movie, Merlin says that in order to defeat Morgana, a knight must be “pure of heart.” He gave them a “Chivalric Code” to live by—what four things were on this list? Write them down and discuss their importance for everyday life.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

5. Dwaat-e-Ishq

Daawat-e-Ishq is one of our all-time favorite movies. The girls were just five and seven when we discovered it on Netflix; they would rush to finish their homework after school just so they could watch it. Years laters, they still love this movie and Nasi does, too!

The story revolves around Gulu, a young woman who lives with her father and is ready to marry. As common in Indian tradition, her father—played by our favorite “Indian dad” actor, Anupam Kher— is looking for a suitor for her via an arranged marriage. When Gulu finds whom she believes is a love match, a marriage that is not arranged, the guy’s family demands a large dowry they cannot afford. Gulu is heartbroken, swears off love and decides to get her revenge against men. Little does she know that she’ll fall in love when she least expects it.

Where to watch: Daawat-e-Ishq is free with a Prime membership, and it can also be streamed on Google Play, iTunes and YouTube.

how to learn from the film:

  • Arranged marriages have been common in India for centuries—have respectful discussions with your children about the cultural differences in marriage. India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, and many happy and loving marriages have resulted from arrangements.

  • Daawat-e-Ishq centers around Muslim families; research India’s Muslim population and Islamic heritage.

  • There’s a scene in the film where a Holi celebration is visited—research this tradition and its meaning.

  • Research dowries. Demanding a dowry is now illegal in India, but the practice is still common throughout the country. Learn about what dowries are and the pressures they place on families within India.

  • In the film, Gulu’s father only has fifteen lakhs to offer for her dowry. Research how much this in your currency and how much the families are asking for.

  • Dowries are used in marriages all over the world—research countries where this practice is common and if the dowries are given to the families of the bride or the groom.

  • In one scene of the movie, Gulu turns down a potential suitor and his mother attempts to insult her by calling her a “dark-skinned” girl. Talk about colorism around the globe and its impact. Is colorism an issue in your own culture?

  • Food plays a major role in the film. India is a large and diverse country and its gastronomy varies from region to region—study the cuisine of the areas mentioned in the film.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

6. Babies

Babies is a documentary that follows four newborns from Japan, the United States, Namibia and Mongolia from birth until their first year. It is a beautiful film that shows no matter where in the world we are from, childhood is the same. We may play with different toys, parents may have different cultural parenting styles, but humanity connects us all. This is one of the first global-themed movies that the girls saw, and they were fascinated by the human behavior on display.

Where to watch: Babies can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

how to learn from the film:

  • Research birthing conditions around the world.

  • Talk about the different parenting styles shown in the movie.

  • Study global infant and maternal mortality rates as childbirth is still one of the main causes of death amongst women around the world

  • The U.S. has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the western hemisphere. More women and babies die from birth-related causes in the United States than in China. The majority of deaths occur amongst Black women and babies—talk about this.

  • Do research projects on each of the countries in the film.

  • Have conversations about technology and modern conveniences—do babies need them?

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

7. Queen of Katwe

Yes, this is another African-child-in-poverty-who-defeats-the-odds film. Despite this reality, Queen of Katwe is definitely worth seeing. The film is based on the true story of 10-year-old Phiona, a young Ugandan girl who becomes a chess champion. Before chess, Phiona’s life consisted of household chores and helping her mother and siblings sell maize in the market. Phiona’s life drastically changes when she stumbles upon children learning to play chess.

I don’t like films that showcase African slums and poverty, but I do appreciate that it was Phiona’s African coach and his wife that encouraged her in her education and competitive skills.

This isn’t a white savior story.

Where to watch: Queen of Katwe can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the film:

  • Learn to play chess. It would be fun for your children to learn how to play chess and arrange chess competitions between them.

  • Study Uganda and look for areas that are not impoverished to show your children. It’s important that children are not forming a narrative that the continent of Africa is a slum of poverty and desperation.

  • Research the music of Uganda. The music scene in Uganda is on fire! Find music videos online to expose your children to these awesome music genres.

  • One of the main themes of the movie is “where you come from doesn’t determine where you have to stay.” Talk to your children about this idea and see if they’re feeling any limitations in their lives.

  • Have discussions about hard work and determination. In the film, Phiona became the best in Uganda but was frustrated when she lost her first international competition. Talk about the importance of hard work and consistency.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

8. canela

Canela is the story of María, her grandmother, their passion for cooking and healing from tragedy. After the death of María’s mother, her grandmother loses her passion for cooking in their family’s restaurant. When a new chef comes to the restaurant and tries to modernize old recipes, María helps her abuela get back in the kitchen and reunite with traditional flavors.

Where to watch: Canela can be streamed on Prime Video and YouTube with English subtitles.

how to learn from the film:

  • The death of a loved one plays a significant role in the film. Talk about death and grieving with your children and teach them healthy grieving methods.

  • Talk about the importance of grandparents in the family unit. Maria and her grandmother have a close relationship—does your family emphasize the role of grandparents in the family structure?

  • México City is in the midst of a gastronomic revival and is home to one of the best food scenes in the world. Research some of the new chefs on the rise and how they’ve modernized traditional Mexican cuisine without losing the heart of Mexican cooking.

  • Research México City and its history.

  • Do you have a recipe that has been passed down for generations? If not, find a dish that everyone loves and make it a family tradition to pass down.

  • Cook a meal together. You could try making Mexican mole as in the film.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

9. dangal

Dangal is based on the true story of Mahavir Singh and his daughters, Geeta and Babita. Mahavir was a rising star in wrestling when his father made him quit the sport he loved. For fun, he coached boys’ wrestling, waiting for the day that he’d have a son of his own to coach.

As fate would have it, Mahavir had four daughters and no sons; he felt like his dream of winning an international medal could never come to pass. That is until the day his oldest daughters, Geeta and Babita, beat up two boys after school. Mahavir was so impressed by the damaged they caused and realized that wrestling was in their blood—he didn’t need sons to have international wrestling champions.

This was a crazy idea, of course, as there were no girls wrestling in India at the time. Mahavir demanded that his daughters no longer helped with household chores and began to train them as wrestlers.

The girls begin to win wrestling matches against boys and eventually find girls to compete against. It is truly a powerful story that will have you cheering at the tv—my girls were so inspired by the girl power in this story!

Where to watch: Dangal is a Netflix original and available for streaming there.

How to learn from the film:

  • In the film, the father breaks cultural norms by having his daughters wear shorts, cut their hair and wrestle boys—talk about the courage it takes to break the mold, and what culture norms may need to be broken in your own lives.

  • Mahavir, Geeta and Babita have inspired thousands of girls across India to wrestle. Ask your children how they can inspire others.

  • Talk to your daughters about the limitations they may feel in their lives. Even if you are empowering your daughters and teaching them that they are not limited by their gender, you never know what subconscious messages they may be absorbing.

  • Have gender reverse day in your home. If mom does most of the cooking and laundry, set aside a special day where any men and boys in the house do these jobs typically seen as “women’s work.”

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

10. Whale Rider

Whale Rider is a film from New Zealand about a twelve-year-old Māori girl, Pai, who wants to become the next leader of her people. Her father, who is next in line to be chief, leaves their village to live abroad—he has no interest in following the traditions of their ancestors.

When Pai wants to become the next leader, her grandfather refuses to allow her to train for the role according to their traditions. He becomes determined to find a boy in the village to carry on the ways of the Māori, but the young boys are mostly uninterested or unqualified to do so.

Despite her grandfather’s rejection, Pai does not give up on her calling and cries out to the power of the whales to come to her aid. After a miraculous series of events, her grandfather is convinced of who should lead their people.

Where to watch: Whale Rider can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the film:

  • New Zealand was colonized by the British and now holds a white majority—talk about the impact of this on the Māori people. How do they keep traditions alive?

  • What is the significance of the whale in Māori culture? Study this.

  • Learn the origins and significance of the Haka dance.

  • Learn about the disparities Māori people face in New Zealand. Do they have access to proper health care, education and housing? Are they equal on the land that is rightfully theirs?

  • Talk about the plight of Indigenous peoples across Latin American, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. What are the struggles these communities face? How can we honor Indigenous peoples and their communities as many of us live on land that was stolen from them.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

11. the climb

The Climb is loosely based on the true story of Nadir Dendoune, the first Franco-Algerian to reach the top of Mt. Everest, and he did it with no climbing experience.

In the film, Samy decides to will climb Mt. Everest to prove his love for his long-time crush and friend, Nadia. He cannot afford the trip but is able to find sponsors, one of them being his neighborhood radio station. Upon arrival in Katmandu, Samy realizes he may be in over his head. He builds a beautiful friendship with a Nepali guide who helps him in many ways during his journey.

Back home in Paris, Samy inspires his neighborhood to believe they, too, are capable of doing the impossible. This film gives a glimpse into a side of Paris most people never see when visiting—the working-class and immigrant neighborhoods.

Where to watch: The Climb is a Netflix original and available for streaming there.

how to learn from the film:

  • On various occasions, the movie mentions unemployment amongst young, urban North and West African men—research unemployment rates in France and the racial divide.

  • Research France’s immigrant communities. What countries do most of them come from?

  • Research the Himalayan Mountains and the people who live in the area.

  • Learn about the impact of climate change on the Himalayan region and why this area most is threatened by it.

  • Research Mt. Everest and the people of color who have climbed it.

  • The film presents an opportunity to talk about how privilege and access to resources open up the door to many sporting activities. Research how much the average trek to Mt. Everest costs; between training, gear, flights, guides and accommodations, is it an option for many people?

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

12. when i saw you

When I Saw You is another one of our favorite films. The girls first watched it at five and seven years old, and it stars Selah Bakri (pictured) who is the brother of dear friends of ours—this movie holds a very special place in our hearts.

The film is set in 1967, at a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. A young boy, Tarek, and his mother have been separated from his father after the Six-Day War, and they eagerly hope for his arrival to the camp. Having just lost their homes, stability and family members, people in the camp try to create a normal life in the midst of sorrow and chaos.

Children go to school, couples marry, people build makeshift homes and find odd jobs for work. Every day is a waiting game to hear information about missing loved ones, and news on if they will ever be allowed to return to their precious Palestine.

Tarek can’t take life in the camp and desperately wants to find his father; he decides to leave and walk back to Palestine—without his mother’s knowledge. He sets out toward home and is found by a fedayeen soldier along the way, and the soldier takes him back to their training camp for safety.

Tarek comes of age amongst these hero-warriors who keep him protected, all the while his mother desperately searches for him.

Where to watch: When I Saw You can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the film:

  • Learn about the Six-Day War and its significance.

  • Study maps of Palestine before its invasion and maps of Palestine now.

  • Palestinians make up one of the world’s largest refugee populationstalk about life as a refugee. Ask your children what would it be like to lose their home, family members, possessions and sense of normalcy.

  • Learn aboutThe Nakba.” Translated the “catastrophe,” the Nakba is when over 700,000 Palestinians fled Palestine fearing their lives, or were expelled by force from their homes by the Zionist army. Talk about this event with your children and ask them how they feel about it.

  • In the movie, Tarek is found by a fedayeen soldier and ends up at their camp. Study who they were and why they are heroes to Palestinians. Ask questions to your children about the right to defend one’s homeland and the right to exist. Use this time to encourage critical thinking skills.

  • In the film, there is a Black fedayeen soldier—research Black Palestinians. How did they get to Palestine? How are they treated?

  • Find ways to support a free Palestine and its people.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

13. lunch time heroes

No, this is not another African-children-in-poverty-who-defeat-the-odds film. In fact, this film centers around a teacher who teaches at an elite private school in Nigeria, attended by rich students. I want to be sure to provide movie options that represent diverse experiences around the world, and not just ones that play into stereotypes.

Lunch Time Heroes is a Nollywood movie that tells the story of a young teacher at an elite, private school who doesn’t feel respected by her students and colleagues. In attempts to bond with her students, and win the approval of the staff, she decides to enlist her class into a cooking competition.

Where to watch: At publishing, Lunch Time Heroes is available on Netflix.

How to learn from the film:

  • Research “Nollywood” and the Nigerian film industry, which is the third largest in the world.

  • What are the different ethnic groups within Nigeria? Research them.

  • Go to YouTube and find Nigerian Afrobeat music videos. Screen them first, though!

  • Find pictures that show the vast beauty of Africa and its varying countries. Make sure you are exposing your children to this reality of Africa.

  • Talk to your children about the importance of telling their own stories. Most western depictions of African countries are narratives of poverty fetishes, but these stories are told differently through indigenous lenses.

  • Cooking and food are themes in the movie, get out and eat some amazing Nigerian cuisine.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

14. Bride and Prejudice

Okay, listen, I know that I’ve been using the phrase “this is one of our favorite movies” a lot—I can’t help it, we are true lovers of international cinema.

When I say that Bride and Prejudice is one of our all-time most favorite movies ever, I’m not exaggerating. It is one of the first international movies the girls watched when they were toddlers, and it was on repeat for many months.

The poster for this film is currently hanging in their bedroom.

Bride and Prejudice is a Bollywood take on the classic Jane Austin novel, Pride and Prejudice. It was written and directed by the talented, Gurinder Chadha, and it pays homage to her Indian-British identity.

In the film, the Bakshi family daughters are coming of marriage age and their mother puts intense pressure on the girls to find wealthy men from abroad to marry. What unfolds is a dazzling tale of love, family, heartbreak and a brilliant fusion of two very different worlds.

Where to watch: Bride and Prejudice can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

how to learn from the film:

  • The Bakshi family live in Amritsar, which is in the Punjab region of India—study this area.

  • Most of the movies I've suggested use Hindi as a dominant language, though there are hundreds of millions of people within India who speak other languages—research them.

  • In the film, Will Darcy makes comments about arranged marriages, and other Indian customs, and calls them “backwards.” Highlight this to your children and have a conversation about how “different” doesn’t mean “inferior”.

  • Listen to someone talk about their arranged marriage and love story.

  • In the film, Mrs. Bakshi matches all of her bindis to her outfits—learn what bindis are and their significance. She’s so extra about everything and my favorite character in the movie.

  • The role of Lalita is played by the global phenomenon, Aishwarya Rai. She is arguably India’s most famous actress, recognized and loved by billions of fans all over the world. While she’s one of the most famous actresses in the world, she’s not very known in the western hemisphere—talk about western-centrism.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

15. wadjda

Wadjda is the story of a spunky ten-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia who lives life by her own standards, despite cultural pressures to conform.

In other words, she’s a girl after my own heart.

Determined to buy a beautiful, green bike that she sees in a local shop, Wadjda comes up with ways to make money for her goal. She sells homemade friendship bracelets and hustles older students for cash, but soon realizes that none of this will be enough to buy her bike. While she has no real interest in deep religious teachings, Wadjda decides to join the Qur’an Club once she finds out there’s a competition with prize money for reciting verses.

The film was written and directed in Saudi Arabia by a Saudi woman, and throughout the film are messages about the female experience within the country.

I can relate to Wadjda in so many ways as I, myself, was seen as a rebel and non-conformist in my own branch of Christianity—it’s not easy being the black sheep, yo.

And while I love this film, I was reluctant to recommend it as so many people have misconceptions about the Muslim world—I didn’t want to reinforce stereotypes that I know aren’t all true. I’m not here for any colonizing world’s feminist narratives of the “repression” of Muslim women by the men in their societies. I know so many powerful Muslim women and equally amazing Muslim men who empower them.

Saudi Arabia is probably the most restrictive of all countries in the Muslim world; their interpretation of Islam is extreme in many ways, and does not reflect how most in the faith of over a billion people live out their lives. Remember this when watching the film and do your best to not approach it through your own misinterpretations.

Where to watch: Wadjda can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the movie:

  • Wadjda wants to buy a bike that costs 800 Saudi riyal—see how much this is in your currency.

  • Notice the ways Wadjda asserts her unique style and personality in her clothing and shoe choices. Find ways to allow your children to express their personality through their own unique style.

  • The world around Wadjda wanted her to conform, but she chose to be herself no matter what the cost—have this discussion with your children.

  • Saudi women have recently been granted the right to drive—research women within the country who have been demanding equality for years.

  • Listen to Muslim women who feel empowered in their faith and not just oppression narratives—have discussions about intersectional feminism.

  • Wadjda’s best friend, Abdullah, supported her dream to buy the bicycle—sit down with your sons and brainstorm ways they can actively support the dreams of women and girls.

  • Learn about the Prophet Mohammed’s amazing wife, Khadija.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

16. life is beautiful

If you’re looking for a gentle way to introduce your children to the horrors of the Holocaust, Life Is Beautiful is the perfect film for them.

The story begins with Guido, an extremely happy Jewish-Italian waiter, who falls madly in love with a non-Jewish preschool teacher, Dora. You and your children will instantly fall for Guido’s charm and charisma, as his courting of Dora becomes like magical surrealism—instantly sucking you into his world of gushing romance.

The two fall in love behind the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism in Italy and the increasing Nazi presence in the country—the extreme worlds of fascism and romance collide.

Guido and Dora eventually marry and have a son, Giosué. They are a happy and loving family until the Nazis begin to round up Jews for camps.

To protect his son, Guido turns the time at the camp into a game of make-believe, convincing him that they will go home once the game finishes.

Where to watch: Life Is Beautiful can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.


  • Learn about the Nazi occupation of Italy during WWII.

  • If you’re Spanish speakers, keep track of all the Italian words that are the same in Spanish or ones that are similar enough to understand. You’ll be surprised how much of this movie you won’t need to read subtitles for!

  • Learn about Italy’s Jewish community pre and post WWII.

  • While the reality of the Holocaust and atrocities are the backdrop of the film, the power of love and family are its heartbeat—discuss this with your children.

  • Research Italians who saved Jewish lives during WWII.

  • Talk to your children about religious and ethnic persecution. Ask if they would be willing to risk themselves to protect someone who believed differently than them, and someone who was of a different ethnic background.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

17. landfill harmonic

Just a few miles outside of Paraguay’s metropolis, Asunción, is the city of Cateura where most of the capital’s garbage is dumped. Residents of this town salvage the landfill for recyclable materials to earn a living; many of their children work along side them, digging through the garbage to earn money.

Landfill Harmonic is a documentary about an orchestra made up of children from Cateura and their instruments made completely by trash found in the landfill. The children eventually end up on a worldwide tour that changes the course of their lives.

Where to watch: Landfill Harmonic can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

How to learn from the film:

  • At the beginning of the documentary, a gentleman is preparing Yerba Mate. Research what this is, which countries drink it and it’s cultural significance.

  • In the film, the orchestra teacher mentions how social conditions in Paraguay often limit children from becoming anything outside of the social structure they were born into. Study and discuss classism in Latin America—do these same limitations exist around the world?

  • Study the classical music heard in the film. Learn about composers and their most famous works.

  • I’m not going to lie, the “zero waste” movement is packed full of privilege and expensive products that many cannot afford. Find inexpensive ways to create a less wasteful lifestyle for you and your family.

  • Discuss alternatives to throwing away clothing, household items and trash. Also discuss ways to consume less.

  • Emphasize the importance of recycling.

  • Start a compost. Minneapolis has a free composting program through the local government, so for now, we compost this way. For those who don’t have programs like this in your own area, research ways to start your own compost.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

18. dhanak

Dhanak is the story of a sister, Pari, and her blind brother, Chotu, and their love for Bollywood films. Orphaned, they live with their uncle and his wife in Rajasthan.

Pari loves the actor, Shah Rukh Khan, and Chotu loves Salman Khan—they constantly battle over who is the best actor. They love each other deeply and Pari desperately wants Chotu to receive an operation that will give him back his eyesight.

Pari begins to write letters to Shah Rukh Khan to ask for the much-needed surgery; when she finds out the letters were never sent, they set out to find him.

What comes next is a journey throughout Rajasthan, where they make new friends and find adventure along the way.

Where to watch: At publishing, Dhanak is available on Netflix.

How to learn from the film:

  • The film takes place in the Rajasthan region of India—study this area and its unique culture.

  • Pay attention to what many of the women in the movie wear and their regional dancing—does it look/sound similar to another part of the world?

  • The sibling love in this film is strong—ask your children to come up with ways that they can express love to each other.

  • While Dhanak is mostly a lighthearted film about the love between a brother and sister, there are serious themes brought up in the film, one of them being child neglect. Talk about this with your children and ask them what their emotions and reactions are to these harsh realities.

  • In the movie, Pari and Chotu are obsessed with Bollywood action heroes Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan—research these Bollywood stars and their massive popularity.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

19. the way home

The Way Home is a beautiful Korean movie about a young boy and his mute grandmother. Sang-Woo is a city boy from Seoul who is sent to stay with his elderly grandmother in the countryside. Accustomed to city life and its conveniences, Sang-Woo has a difficult time adjusting to rural life without fast food and technology. To top it off, his grandmother cannot speak which adds to the confusion.

Eventually, a genuine and loving bond is formed between the two.

Where to watch: The Way Home can be streamed on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

how to learn from the movie:

  • Pick a grandparent and figure out the year they were born. Research what music was popular that year and also what were common toys, games and t.v. shows at the time.

  • Talk about intergenerational respect and honor.

  • Research the Korean countryside.

  • Find ways for your children to serve and honor the elders in their lives.

  • In the film, Sang-Woo calls his grandmother derogatory names because she is mute—discuss this with your children and come up with ways to honor and respect those who have psychical challenges.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

20. Africa United

It’s 2010, and the FIFA World Cup is being held in South Africa—a first for the soccer-crazed continent. As one could imagine, everyone’s excited and prepping for the games. A group of friends in Rwanda get on a bus to make it to the country’s capital, Kigali, to audition to be a part of the World Cup’s opening ceremony.

Without realizing, the friends get on the wrong bus, fall asleep and wake up in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Without passports or identification, they aren’t allowed to return to Rwanda. From there, they come up with a plan to make the nearly 2,000-mile journey to South Africa.

The movie is full of adventure, friendship and excitement.

*The girls asked me to notify my readers that “shit” is used often in the film as it is not considered a swear word in many African countries. Also, in the opening scene, Dudu is teaching kids to make soccer balls from condoms—no biggie but just a warning.

Where to watch: Africa United can be streamed on iTunes, or watched for free on YouTube—it’s poor quality, though.

How to learn from the film:

  • In the opening of the film, DuDu speaks on the AIDS epidemic in many African countries and using condoms to prevent the disease—talk to your kids about this topic if you feel comfortable with it.

  • The movie starts in Rwanda and this country has a tragic past but has moved forward from it—talk about the genocide in Rwanda and how they are working to heal past it.

  • Get a map of Africa and see how far the friends journey from Rwanda to South Africa.

  • In the film the kids are trying to get to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup—study which countries have won the games over the last twenty years.

  • Research famous soccer players. What countries do they come from and what sets them apart from other players.

  • Ask everyone what their favorite part of the movie was.

“Queen of Katwe”

“Queen of Katwe”

more ways to INCORPORATE foreign films into your home:

  • Find a children’s international film festival in your area. New York City has a children’s international film festival as does Chicago. There are cities all over the United States that hosts them and many across Europe.

  • Did you know some movie theaters host special foreign movie nights? Check a theater in your area to see if they screen international movies. For example, there are movie theaters in the greater Minneapolis suburbs that show Bollywood films on Friday nights due to large Indian and Guyanese communities in those areas.

  • Read my blog post “7 Simple Ways To Raise Your Children As Global Citizens Without Travel” for more ideas on ways to enjoy international movies with your children.

  • Host an international film festival. Get together with friends, family and/or homeschool groups and host a week-long film festival. Show a new movie every night from a different part of the world.

  • Have an international movie night. Why not incorporate these films into your family’s routine? Plan an international family movie night once per month.

“The Kid Who Would Be King”

“The Kid Who Would Be King”

International films serve as a great resource to expose your children to the world. There are so many lessons to learn by opening oneself up to understanding those who may think, believe, eat and live differently than oneself.

And through the magic of movies, giving ones children the gift of global understanding is easier than ever.

would you watch foreign movies with your children?


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