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Foreign Film Locations

  • Feb 5, 2010
Where are the foreign films originating and what traits seem to be popular? There are plenty of countries putting out great films, but much of it never hits the mainstream in the United States. Weak Hollywood razzle dazzle rakes in the big bucks, while great foreign films quietly make an impact. Here is a list of some of the sources of foreign films...feel free to add more with commentary in the comment section. The list is not in any order...I appreciate all foreign films. While individual films could be ranked, ranking by source Country seems impossible. This list is a work in progress. As I discover new films from countries I am unfamiliar with, this list may grow. Add suggestions if there is something I should see!
South Korea
Korean vengeance films always seem to make for great intensity and drama.
Face A Korean Thriller
The Chaser Korean Vengeance
Thirst A Vampire film
Lady Vengeance
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Princess Aurora
Chinese martial arts films are always a hit. Lesser known films like CJ7 are lesser known for a reason...not nearly as compelling as the action films.
Japanese film runs the gamut. They produce a lot of the freaky horror stuff, which I generally like. They also produce pink films (a term I learned here at lunch from Woopak), for example Man, Woman and the Wall.
Departures - 2008 Best Foreign Language Film
I don't have extensive experience with Australian films. I enjoyed The Boys Are Back which I saw earlier this year.  Noise is likely the best Australian film I have seen.
An excellent Swedish Film is Evil which is a period piece about boarding schools.
Let The Right One In is an edgy Vampire film.
The Virgin Spring - Best Foreign Language Film of 1961
Canadian films seem to stick more to good stories than big special effects. The more subtle offerings like Away From Her are compelling and simple.
Saint Ralph - A Compelling Sports-Based Film
Plenty of Mexican films have a border flavor or some US influence. Others, like El Mariachi, do not look to the US for inspiration. Low budget, great ingenuity and throwback feel can take you places.
Not all French film is sensual...but they generally tend to have a more emotional and sensual influence than other films. French films are among my favorite. Amelie, which was nominated for an Academy Award is worth mentioning, but not my favorite from France.
Russian Dolls
-- The dangers of ordering a "mail order" bride
Water Lilies - Sexual exploration
A Secret (Un Secret) - During and after WWII
The Last Mistress - A mediocre period piece.
Paris je T'aime 
I've Loved You So Long
I was recently exposed to Elling, which was an exceptional Norwegian film that told a great story on a seemingly reasonable budget. I will be seeing more Norwegian films in the future.
I don't know much about Bollywood...but I know I enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire which was one of the best films of 2008.
The only Iranian film I have seen was Children of Heaven an excellent touching story, with a healthy dose of propaganda threaded in.
The only Brazilian film I recall seeing was an older film called Black Orpheus, which won Best Foreign Film in 1960 (But I found merely average).
From "Malena" to Spaghetti Westerns, Italy has always been a great source for excellent films. Benini's "Life is Beautiful" won the Academy Award and is definitely five star material. The film has a bit of everything. It was criticized for making light of life in concentration camps, but there was a tenderness in the story that did not feel awkward.
Malena! Another excellent Italian film.
German WWII films are always interesting to watch. A different perspective that I have enjoyed in several films.
A Woman In Berlin shows the end of WWII (The Russian half of Berlin) from a German perspective.
As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me More WWII from German perspective.
Austria is another interesting source for WWII films. The Counterfeiters memorialized a special project undertaken by the Nazis to try and weaken Allied economies. The film won for Best Foreign Film at the 2007 Academy Awards.
Spain has beautiful countryside which provides a rich setting for film.
Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta
The Sea Inside - Academy Award winning story of euthanasia.
Intacto - An examination of Luck
All About My Mother - Academy Award
Bosnia & Herzegovinia
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been ravaged by war, experiencing the longest siege of a city in modern warfare. The war has left deep scars on the country, which produced a Best Foreign Film called No Man's Land.  A post-war film set in Bosnia called The Hunting Party examines the hunt for War Criminals hiding out in the open.
Taiwan produced one of the best (surreal) martial arts films of the decade, with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. An action packed film with all the great elements of drama infused into an intelligent script.
An excellent example of Irish film can be found in The Wind That Shakes The Barley.
Adam's Apple (or Adam's Aebler) is an interesting film from Denmark that I would recommend.

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February 05, 2010
Tons of your US films might well be classed as foreign films based on their filming location. Canada has often been called "Hollywood North" because it has a thriving film industry and our cities frequently serve as stand-ins for what are ostensibly US locations when the film is released.
February 05, 2010
Good point.
March 11, 2010
Are we going to consider Canadian films made completely by Canadians are foreign films, or just those from Quebec?
March 12, 2010
I consider all films from outside the United States to be Foreign, even if they are in English. I know the English ones don't count as foreign language films, but the idea of Foreign to me could almost include indie as well. In a nutshell...anything not Hollywood. But to keep things simple, films made outside the US.
February 05, 2010
Where's Hong Kong???  Well, I guess that's technically part of China now :P  This is a really, really neat idea for a list.  Great execution, John! :)
February 05, 2010
Thanks...it is a work in progress. As I add foreign films to Lunch, I intend to add a link here under the corresponding country of origin!
February 07, 2010
Yeah, I was gonna say that. As a Wong Kar-Wai fan (and to a lesser extent, John Woo), it really deserves its own category.

You may also want to look into Romanian cinema, which is recently starting to be considered one of the go-to spots for naturalistic black comedies. I highly recommend 4 months 3 weeks 2 days, and The Death of Mr. Lazerescu and 12:08 East of Bucharest are good too.
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