11 Uplifting Global Movies - Intentional Travelers
Feel-good, cross-cultural movies to explore the globe from home

10 May 11 Uplifting Global Movies

Travel isn’t the only way to open our eyes to new cultures. We’ve hand-picked 11 movies that will help you learn about our world, grow in cultural understanding, and also leave a smile on your face.

Entertainment for Good

We think it’s important for everyone, young and old, to be engaged, global citizens. We should seek to understand others who are different from us and pay attention to world issues. It’s all too easy to fall into a rut, distracting ourselves with a diet of homogenous entertainment and never bothering to stretch outside of our own comfortable little bubbles.

But we also understand that world issues can get heavy. And a lot of movies with important international stories – informative documentaries, or intense films like Hotel Rwanda – are hard to watch. They ground us. They even inspire us. But we can only take so much.

With everything going on in our world today, I (Michelle) found myself looking for movies with meaning that were uplifting. I didn’t want to waste 90 minutes just entertaining myself – I wanted something real. I also didn’t want anything depressing, negative, or violent. I wanted to finish the movie feeling like I was becoming a better person for having watched it.

Uplifting Global Movies

These stories are not free from hardship – what good story is? But they affirm the inherent good in people. All the stories are either cross-cultural, or they are at least set in foreign places where you gain understanding of a new culture and place.

The African Doctor a.k.a Bienvenue a Marly-Gomont


A Congolese doctor transplants his family to a small French village and culture shock sets in for everyone. Despite the realities of prejudice, this is a heart-warming story. One of my all-time favorites! Based on a true story.

Rating: PG
Genre: International comedy, drama
Language: French with English subtitles

Find it here:
Stream on Netflix

Queen of Katwe


From the slums of Kampala, Uganda, a young girl discovers a talent for the game of chess that opens new doors for her and her struggling family. Based on a true story, made by Disney.

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama
Language: English

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
Amazon (rent or buy)

Wadjda


An endearing young girl would like nothing more than a new bicycle so she can beat her friend (a boy) in a race. But in the patriarchal society of Saudi Arabia, it takes some ingenuity.

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama
Language: Arabic with English subtitles

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
Youtube (rent or buy)
Stream with STARZ, rent, or buy on Amazon

Amelie


A whimsical film set in Paris about a timid girl who starts a quest to do benevolent acts for others, thanks to a nudge from fate. Beautifully and creatively filmed with an inspiring and quirky story.

Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Language: French with English subtitles

Find it here:
Netflix streaming
Amazon (rent or buy)

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (series)

While it’s a TV series, not a movie, this one HAD to be included. A radiant African woman sets up a detective shop to help unravel every-day mysteries and uncover corruption in small town Botswana. Light-hearted, simple, and endearing. Based on the best-selling novels by Alexander McCall-Smith.

Rating: NR (family friendly)
Genre: Mystery, comedy
Language: English

Find it here:
HBO Now/HBO Go
HBO on Amazon
Netflix DVDs (3 discs)
Purchase DVD/Amazon Video

The 100 Foot Journey


A family relocates from India to rural France, opening up an Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin-star French restaurant. Cultures clash and competition ensues. A great story of transformation, food, and love.

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal…

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
Youtube (rent or buy)
Amazon (rent or buy)

Hector and the Search for Happiness

A psychiatrist decides to break away from his dreary routine to travel the world in search of the secret formula for happiness. Though quite serious and meaningful, it’s adventurous, funny, and uplifting at the same time.

Rating: R
Genre: Comedy, drama
Language: English
Cast: Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike…

Find it here:
Netflix DVD

Youtube (rent or buy)
Amazon (rent or buy)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Several British senior citizens move to the Marigold Hotel in India for an affordable retirement. The energetic young owner attempts to bring the hotel up to their expectations while they each discover themselves in a new and exciting culture.

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Cast: Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson…

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
Youtube (rent or buy)
Amazon (rent or buy)

McFarland USA


A cross-cultural encounter right in the United States. A white track coach resettles in a California town with a primarily Latino student body. Cultural barriers must be overcome to open doors for remarkable achievements. Made by Disney.

Rating: G
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Starring: Kevin Costner

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
Youtube (rent or buy)
Purchase DVD/Blue-ray/Amazon video

Eddie the Eagle


What’s more global than the Olympics? A true story of the first Englishman to compete in the Olympics as a ski jumper. Eddie is a very endearing character who overcomes lack of experience, poor eyesight, and plenty of doubters.

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken…

Find it here:
Netflix DVD
HBO on Amazon
Purchase DVD/Blue-ray

Cool Runnings

This is a long-time favorite comedy of mine, and much like Eddie the Eagle, it’s the story of Olympians who overcome inexperience as well as prejudice. We watched it with Jamaican friends while living there and though they weren’t convinced by the actors’ accents, they really got a kick out of the movie.

Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy
Language: English
Cast: John Candy, Doug E. Doug, Leon, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba…

Find it here:
Stream on Netflix
Youtube (rent or buy)
Amazon (rent or buy)

Those are our top recommendations. What would you add to our list? Please let us know in the comments.

Like this post? Pin it for later or share with friends!

Feel-good, cross-cultural movies to explore the globe from home and appreciate the human spirit | Intentional Travelers

Get our best tips and resources for transformational travel

Intentional-travelers-color-logo-01

Subscribe now to get our free Checklist for International Travel, plus other exclusive content about how to travel more, save money, and enjoy transformational experiences around the world.

Powered by ConvertKit

1Comment
  • Dorene
    Posted at 13:20h, 10 May

    Fun post guys! I’ll have to watch some of these. Glad you included Cool Runnings and Eddie the Eagle – representing my home town of Calgary! yeah!

%d bloggers like this: