10 of the best international family films


North American productions from Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks have been entertaining kids and families for years, but outside of the United States there’s a massive industry of family content that everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s an animated or live-action movie, a recent release or a long-running classic, there’s so much entertainment to be found around the world.

One popular region is Japanese anime, such as the immensely popular Studio Ghibli released to Western audiences via Disney. France also has a long history of producing family films, working in conjunction with other European countries to provide a very diverse catalog of films. Bollywood has no shortage of content for fans, and every year more and more countries are added to the long list of exciting new family films.


‘Wolfwalkers’ (2020), Ireland

wolf walkers is the third installment in Cartoon Saloon’s trilogy of Irish folk tales after The Secret of the Kells (2009) and song of the sea (2014). Based in Kilkenny, Ireland and directed by the filmmaker Tom Moore, Cartoon Saloon delivers jaw-dropping visuals through hand-drawn 2D animation inspired by woodblock art styles. Its impressive animation and storytelling landed wolf walkers a 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

wolf walkers follows a young girl named Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsey) growing in the 1600s where wolves were routinely exterminated. Training as a hunter like her father, Robyn comes across a wild, free-spirited girl, Mehb (Eva Whittaker) who can transform into a wolf at night and discovers the secret of the Wolfwalkers, challenging the demonization of wolves among his human counterparts.

‘Ernest and Celestine’ (2012), France

With touches of watercolor animation as if the characters came out of a book, Ernest and Celestine follows a friendship between two unlikely characters, an orphan mouse, Celestine, and a downed bear, Ernest. Teaming up to raid a local candy store, the two strike up a friendship as they are chased by mouse and bear police.

The original version of the movie stars Lambert Wilson like Ernest and Pauline Brunner as Celestine, while the English dub released a year later features Whitaker Forest and McKenzie Foy like the two titular characters. Complete English cast includes partners Megan Mullally and Nick Offermanas good as Paul Giamatti and Jeffrey Wright.

‘Nocturne’ (2007), Spain

Night is an imaginative fantasy tale of a young orphan boy who is afraid of the dark, but discovers a vast hidden world of beings who help create the night. Searching for his beloved star, the young boy, his cat and his new friend, the Cat Shepherd, face growing darkness as the boy faces his fears.

The film was produced by one of Spain’s biggest animation studios, Filmax Animation, and received the Goya Award for Best Animated Film, Spain’s annual film awards ceremony. The imaginative animation is sure to fascinate fans who find a little magic in starry nights.

“The Legend of La Llorona” (2011), Mexico

Anyone looking for more family-friendly Halloween movie options will be happy to find The Legend of La Llorona. No, not the critical horror movie of 2022 starring Danny Trejo, but the silly kid-friendly version animated by Ánima Estudios. It’s full of brilliant goofy characters and a whole lot of silly humor during its spooky adventures.

This family adventure also has a predecessor, The Legend of La Nahaula (2007) as part of the legend quest franchise that has been adapted into a Netflix series. La Llorona is perhaps one of Mexico’s best-known legends and has been the subject of numerous film adaptations, depicting the spirit of a weeping woman tormented by the loss of her children and forced to haunt the children of the living world.

‘Pinocchio’ (2019), Italy

This Italian production of Pinocchio recalls the roots of the 1883 book, The Adventures of Pinocchiowritten by italian Carlo Collodi. While this tale has always had its dark elements, this adaptation leans into its mature themes through dark, even sometimes creepy, fantasy production design. Nevertheless, the whimsical charm of the puppet boy who wants to be a real boy still sings true.

Pinocchio is most famous in the United States for the 1940 Disney animation, which was only the second animated feature produced by Walt Disney Productions. The tale got a lackluster live-action Disney adaptation in 2022, but is getting another adaptation later in 2022 by the filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. The Blue Fairy had to grant a few wishes to inspire so many adaptations in such a short time.

‘Manuelita’ (1999) Argentina

Manuelita the turtle is one of the most beloved Argentine family films to date, maintaining a lasting legacy as one of the country’s most famous characters; being even associated as the Winnie the Pooh from Argentina. The year it was produced, it was even selected as Argentina’s Oscar submission.

The upbeat family film follows the turtle adventurer Manuelita, who flies away in a hot air balloon. The brave tortoise even stumbles on a pirate ship journey that takes her to a treasure island, rides a giant tortoise in Paris where she becomes a model, all in hopes of returning home on this animated globe adventure. -trotter.

‘Leafie, a hen in the wild’ (2011), South Korea

Leafie, a hen in the wild follows a hen named Leafie, renamed Daisy in the Western version, who escapes from her corporate cage farm and into another brutal reality, nature full of predators and other notorious and pompous animals. The animation is breathtaking, the music is immersive, but may also be more suitable for adults.

This animated movie doesn’t shy away from death and other mature subject matter, even depicting scenes with bodily fluids and animal feces that make even the movie’s characters cringe. Despite a few odd moments, this unique piece of animation has to be given credit.

“Like Stars on Earth” (2007), India

Like stars on earth is one of Bollywood’s most successful family films, about a young boy, Ishaan (Darsheel Safari) whose imagination at school gets him into all sorts of trouble. With his head in the stars, Ishaan is constantly berated by adults, until he meets his new art teacher (Aamir Khan) who finds the real source of Ishaan’s academic problems.

Both starring and directed by Kahn, Like stars on earth is a compassionate look at academia and how not all children can train for rigid teaching models. Learning disabilities are prevalent among students of all ages and charming films like this are a fantastic way to promote understanding in the hope that school systems change for the better.

‘Storm Boy’ (2019), Australia

storm boy is based on the short story by Australian children’s author Colin Thieleand adapted to the cinema again in 2019. It stars familiar actors Geoffrey Rush and Jai Courtneywhile introducing the young actor Finn Small. Large portions of the film’s coastal scenes were shot in Coorong National Park in South Australia, the same location where the novel is also set.

The film follows Michael “Storm Boy” Kingley, who in his growing age (Rush) recalls his childhood (Little) in which he attempted to adopt and care for three baby pelicans. With her reclusive father (Courtney) and a Native outcast (Trevor Jamieson) the three are in conflict with the traditional norms of the outside world, but triumph through their collective bond as they protect the Pelicans.

‘Spirited Away’ (2001), Japan

Taken away as if by magic follows a young girl Spirited Away (Rumi Hiiragi) who stumbles upon an abandoned amusement park with her family, but soon finds herself alone in a bathhouse filled to the brim with spirits and deities inspired by Japanese folklore. Chihiro takes a job at the bathhouse in order to try to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.

Taken away as if by magic is a crowning achievement of animation and storytelling, mesmerizing fans around the world since its release. Already with many acclaimed films to its credit, Studio Ghibli, led by the great Hayao Miyazakigo all out for one of the most intriguing and gripping anime movies of all time, and a great movie to start with if you’re new to anime.

NEXT: The Best Kids & Family Movies On Netflix, August 2022


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