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!
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
All the strong English Actors seem to end up in Hollywood. Great talent like Clive Owens leave the quirkier British industry for the big bucks, big bang US films. Lots of treasures come from across the water. The Young Victoria is an excellent example that is sure to win some awards this year! Birthday Girl - Mediocre British film
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.
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.