Please recommend some movies from 2nd/3rd world countries

I really liked the movie Osama (depressing as it was), which was filmed in Afghanistan by an Iranian film company. I’ve also enjoyed some of the works of the Egyptian director Atom Egoyan and the South Korean movie Why Has Bodhi Dharma Left for the East?.

What are some movies you would recommend filmed by directors/casts from nations not “modernized” by American standards. I know there are Bollywood threads on SDMB as well as Chinese martial arts movies threads, but I’m more interested in countries not generally known for their film industry.

If you liked Osama, try [uyrl=]Kandahar. Not without faults, but a great film nonetheless. (It’s not really a ‘3rd world film’, and the production was based in France, but I’m pretty sure it fits in with what you’re looking for.)

grrr: Kandahar

He was born in Egypt to Armenian parents, and was raised in Western Canada.

I’ll probably catch some flak for my decisions on what are second- and third-world countries, but some movies I recommend:

Mother India (India, 1957). Recently restored and out on DVD.
Ashes and Diamonds (1958, Poland). DVD.
Macario (Mexico, 1960). VHS.
Knife in the Water (Poland, 1963). DVD.
I Am Cuba (Cuba, 1964). DVD.
The Shop on Main Street (Czechoslovakia, 1965). DVD.
Loves of a Blonde (Czechoslovakia, 1966). DVD.
Closely Watched Trains (Czechoslovakia, 1967). DVD.
The Firemen’s Ball (Czechoslovakia, 1967). DVD.
War and Peace, Parts 1-4 (USSR, 1965-1967). DVD.
Z (Algeria, 1969). DVD.
Andrey Rublyov (USSR, 1969). DVD.
Tchaikovsky (USSR, 1969). DVD.
Cat’s Play (Hungary, 1972). VHS.
The Deluge (Poland, 1974). DVD.

Walloon. do these all have English subtitles? I assume The Deluge is based on the Sienkiewicz novel?

Yes and yes.

I don’t know which world Iran belongs to, but I love the movies of Abbas Kiarostami. The ones I’ve been fortunate enough to see are:

ABC Africa
Taste of Cherry
The White Balloon
Through the Olive Trees
And Life Goes On
Close Up
Where Is the Friend’s Home?
The Chorus
The Traveler

Kiarostami wrote and directed all of those except The White Balloon, which was directed by Jafar Panahi. In any case, I adore every shot of each of these movies. Availability varies, and I’m not sure which one to start with, but I started with the trilogy (1. Where Is the Friend’s Home? 2. And Life Goes On 3. Through the Olive Trees) and was hooked for life.

Some more:

Daisies (Czechoslovakia, 1967). DVD.
Solaris (USSR, 1972). DVD.
Black and White in Color (Ivory Coast, 1976). DVD.
Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Yugoslavia, 1981). DVD.
No End (Poland, 1985). DVD.
Come and See (USSR, 1985). DVD.
Blind Chance (Poland, 1987). DVD.
Yeelen (Mali, 1987). DVD.
A Short Film About Killing (Poland, 1988). DVD.
Ju Dou (China, 1990). DVD.
Close-Up (Iran, 1990). DVD.
Cabeza de Vaca (Mexico, 1991). DVD.

I haven’t seen the South Korean film you mention, but if you enjoyed that, you might be interested in some other South Korean movies. I walked into my first South Korean film a couple years ago at the Tokyo International Film Festival not really knowing what to expect, and I came out very impressed. Shortly thereafter, I learned that South Korea has produced numerous excellent films, especially during the last few years. It is really a shame that South Korean cinema does not seem very well known in the West outside of film festivals. I have heard that in South Korea, locally produced films often outsell Hollywood blockbusters, and I can appreciate why. At any rate, here are a few of my recommendations:

Peppermint Candy (Bakha Satang) This is an extremely depressing film, but if you liked Osama , you should be able to handle it. It starts out with a man committing suicide, and then goes back in time and shows all the stressful experiences he had that led him to take his own life. I found it very moving, and was unable to stop thinking about it for a long time after I first saw it.

Oasis Also by the same director and with the same lead actor as the film above, this is a drama/romance about a man who falls in love with a handicapped woman.

Memories of Murder (Salinui Chueok) This is the first South Korean film I saw, and my favorite. It is based on actual events concerning the hunt for South Korea’s first serial killer. It has a great mix of mystery, drama, and surprisingly, comedy.

Finally, there are at least a couple others that I have not seen yet, but I have heard are excellent:

JSA (Gongdong Gyeongbi Guyeok JSA) This is a drama about the tensions on the border between North and South Korea.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geurigo Bom) Said to be a film about the cycle of life, this is a drama that follows the life of an old monk and his young disciple over many seasons.


You might want to look through a copy of the Scarecrow Video Movie Guide and see what they have to say about foreign films. The folks at Scarecrow know more about movies than you or I ever will, and the place was started as a collection of obscure Italian films.

Fan chan (My Girl) Thailand . 2003

a nostalgic, bittersweet childhood love comedy.

crap. i somehow missed the title. i have no idea who belongs to what for these classifications of first/second/third/forth countries… Fan chan is just something i like not from Hollywood or Hong Kong.

Children of Heaven - A great movie, though it has little dialogue.

Here’s a rather large list of recommendations for foreign films from about 30 countries, third world or otherwise. The page takes a minute or two to load, but it’s worth it.


. . . Majid Majidi

Large Marge already mentioned Children of Heaven, which I saw in the theater 3 times. I’ve also played the DVD for my friend’s 7 and 9 year olds and they loved it. Also check out Baran, by the same director.

If Walloon has Poland and Russia in the “second and third world” catagory, then I suppose I ought to be allowed to take the discussion the Latvia- any objections???

Check out The Shoe. I saw this at the Philadelphia Film Festival in 1999. This is a truly brilliant comedy. It is a great misfortune if this film is not available but IMDB doesn’t list either a VHS or a DVD link for the U.S., Canada, Britain, or Germany (that last flag is Germany, am I correct?). If you can find it the reward will be well worth the search.

From Merriam-Webster:

second world: the Communist nations as a political and economic bloc.

third world: a group of nations especially in Africa and Asia not aligned with either the Communist or the non-Communist blocs.

Well, if you consider Brazil a third world country, I can recommend:

Cidade de Deus is a look at life in the favelas.
Deus É Brasileiro is a nice light comedy.
Tainá - Uma Aventura na Amazônia is great fun for the kids.
Central do Brasil is a kind of road movie, and considered a classic in Brazil by now.
Pixote: A Lei do Mais Fraco is the “Cidade de Deus” of the eighties.
O Pagador de Promessas (the original from 1962) is considered one of the best Brazilian films ever.

My personal favourite though is Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (again: the original from 1976) with a young and very sexy Sonia Braga.

Going with the loose definitions, my favorite qualifying movie is Argentina’s Nine Queens. I’m a big fan of the con-artist genre, and this little gem is the best movie in the genre I’ve ever seen. It’s tons of fun.


I loved both of those. Thanks for the reminder.

I’ll second these recommendations. Oasis in particular is, in a word, stunning. I saw it two years ago and I might as well have seen it yesterday. It’s that powerful.

I’ll also second Children of Heaven and Iranian film in general. Some of the most interesting movies of the last ten years have come out of Iran; in addition to what’s been named here, you should also seek out The Circle (which is about women’s issues) and Secret Ballot (which is about an election, but not in the way you’d expect).

There’s also some great stuff coming out of Brazil. City of God got a lot of press (and some Oscar nominations) a couple of years ago, and is well worth seeking out; certainly one of the best films of its year. The Man Who Copied is also a lot of fun, even if it’s fifteen minutes too long.

And Thailand is a country whose film industry can no longer be ignored. Of their recent releases, I’ll point to Last Life in the Universe as being particularly beautiful and moving. I also liked Sayew a couple of years ago, though it may not be to all tastes.