The Reel World: Best international films

The last few years have been a boon for international films. The 2020 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture was the South Korean film Parasite. In 2022 the Japanese film Drive My Car won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film and was nominated for Best Picture. Now is a great time to check out the library’s international films.

We currently have three of the five films nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Oscars, which are available on DVD (we will get the rest as soon as they become available!). I also suggest a few other international films that have received top ratings in film festivals and have some of the highest scores on Rotten Tomatoes in the last couple years.

Flee (Denmark)

Nominated for three Oscars, including Best International Feature Film, plus 82 wins and 132 nominations at film festivals.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%
Original Language: Danish (English subtitles)

Flee is an animated documentary about a man’s need to confront his past to truly have a future. Amin arrived as an unaccompanied minor in Denmark from Afghanistan. Today, at 36, he is a successful academic getting married to his long-time boyfriend. A secret he has been hiding for more than 20 years threatens to ruin the life he has built. For the first time he is sharing his story with his close friend.

War-torn 1980s Kabul. Against the backdrop of the destructive Afghan War, violent civil conflict interrupts 11-year-old Amin’s carefree childhood. He manages to find refuge in Copenhagen as an unaccompanied minor. With his family scattered all over Europe, a now-36-year-old Amin looks back on the turbulent past and the attempts to hide his burgeoning sexuality. He recounts well-hidden secrets and the pivotal events that shaped him. –Plot summary by Nick Riganas

The Worst Person In the World (Norway)  

Nominated for two Oscars, including Best International Picture, plus 19 wins and 82 nominations at film festivals.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Original Language: Norwegian (with English subtitles)

Faced with a dreaded existential cul-de-sac and the prospect of a neat and entirely predictable life devoid of surprises, Julie is forced to settle down. And, somehow, pushing 30 doesn’t make things easier. To find meaning and purpose in life, Julie embarks on a long, challenging, 12-chapter journey of love and enlightenment, hoping for the best. Little by little, as she puts her dormant talents to good use, Julie flirts with other men, throws herself into a new relationship, and gains new skills and experiences. After all, the burden of choice is not the problem. It is the quintessential factor that defines who we are as a person; it shows our character to the world. –Plot summary by Nick Riganas

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)  

Oscar nominee for Best International Feature Film plus 18 wins and nine nominations at film festivals.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Original Language: Dzongkha with English subtitles

A young teacher in modern Bhutan, Ugyen, shirks his duties while planning to go to Australia to become a singer. As a reprimand, his superiors send him to the most remote school in the world, a glacial Himalayan village called Lunana, to complete his service. Ugyen is exiled from his Westernized comforts after an arduous 8-day trek just to get there. He has no electricity, no textbooks, and not even a blackboard. The poor villagers extend a warm welcome to their new teacher. Ugyen faces the daunting task of teaching without any supplies. He wants to quit and go home. However, he begins to learn about the children’s hardships and begins to be transformed through the villagers’ amazing spiritual strength. –Plot summary by Nick Riganas

I’m Your Man (Germany)

Nine wins and 13 nominations at film festivals.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Original Language: German, with English subtitles

Alma (Maren Eggert) is a scientist coerced into participating in an extraordinary study to obtain funding for her work. For three weeks, she must live with a humanoid robot tailored to her character and needs. The robot’s artificial intelligence is designed to be the perfect life partner for her. Enter Tom (Dan Stevens), a machine in human form created solely to make her happy. The film is a humorous tale about the questions of love, longing and what makes a human being human.

Parallel Mothers (Spain)  

Nominated for two Oscars plus 19 wins at 79 nominations at film festivals.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Original Language: Spanish (Spain) with English subtitles

Janis and Ana, meet in a hospital room where they are each going to give birth. Both are single and became pregnant by accident. Janis (Penelope Cruz) is a middle-aged professional photographer who is looking forward to having a child. Ana (Melina Smit) is a scared, repentant and traumatized teen who is nervous about becoming a mother. Janis tries to encourage Ana while they move along the hospital corridors waiting to give birth. In these hours they form a very close bond, which complicates and changes their lives in a decisive way.

The Truffle Hunters (Italy)  

Seven wins and 22 nominations at film festivals.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Original Language: Italian (with English subtitles)

Deep in the forests of Northern Italy resides the prized white Alba truffle. Desired by the wealthiest patrons in the world, it remains a pungent but rarified mystery. Even the most resourceful modern excavators cannot find this truffle. The only souls on Earth who know how to dig it up are a tiny circle of canines and their silver-haired human companions. These Italian elders with walking sticks and devilish senses of humor only scour for the truffle at night to not leave any clues for others. This small enclave of hunters induces a feverish international buying market.

Documentary filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race, 2018 Sundance Film Festival) use their unprecedented access to the elusive truffle hunters to follow this maddening cycle from the forest floor to the pristine restaurant plate. With a wily and absurdist flare, The Truffle Hunters captures a precarious ritual constantly threatened by greed and outside influences. Those clever, tight-lipped few who know how to unearth the magic within nature protect this truffle hunt.

Slalom (France)

Six wins and 16 nominations at film festivals.
Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
Original language: French (with English subtitles)

This film follows the relationship between a teenage ski prodigy and her predatory instructor. In a breakthrough role, Noée Abita plays 15-year-old Lyz, a high school student in the French Alps.Lyz has been accepted to an elite ski club that produces some of the country’s top professional athletes. Taking a chance on his new recruit, ex-champion turned coach Fred decides to mold Lyz into his shining star despite her lack of experience. Under his influence, she endures more than the physical and emotional pressure of the training. Will Lyz’s determination help her escape Fred’s exploitative grip?


Perry is part of the collection development team, focusing on music, media and fine arts. He has a master’s degree in library science from Emporia State University as well as a master’s degree in music from the University of North Texas. A Topeka native, he returned to his hometown after spending more than a decade on the road as a professional trumpet player.