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.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. We only recommend things we love.
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.
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.
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.
Language: Arabic with English subtitles
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.
Language: French with English subtitles
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
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.
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal…
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.
Genre: Comedy, drama
Cast: Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike…
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.
Cast: Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson…
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.
Starring: Kevin Costner
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.
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken…
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.
Cast: John Candy, Doug E. Doug, Leon, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba…
Those are our top recommendations. What would you add to our list? Please let us know in the comments.
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