(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)
We’ve got an animation-heavy column for you in this week’s Pop Culture Imports, but if you’re looking for bright, family-friendly fare, they won’t be here. What is it with foreign filmmakers using animation as a medium through which to work through some of the most traumatic events (fictional or otherwise) in history? That’s a question for another day, but meanwhile let’s have a look at the best foreign movies and TV streaming now, which include war-torn refugee films Funan and Adú, a disaster anime series from Netflix, and a deadpan heist film from Romania.
Fire up those subtitles and let’s get streaming.
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Cambodia, April 1975. A mother’s world is turned upside-down. One moment, Chou is enjoying a warm family meal in the thriving capital of Phnom Penh. Another moment, plates and dishes are toppled and no family is to be found. The city is emptied, save for soldiers and smoke. We learn that an evacuation has taken place. The citizens walk in line toward the mismanaged labor camps that will overwork and starve them. Soldiers purge Chou’s middle-class family of declared “impurities”—their car, their clothing—chop their hair, and force them to labor in camps that starve and torture them. Complaints, exhaustion, and sorrow, and rage are seen as signs of disposability. Souls around Chou start falling or vanishing.
Released in Annecy last year to acclaim and awards, director and writer Denis Do forged Funan, his animated feature film debut, from the testimonies of his mother and other survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s regime and its heinous societal experiment to create a classless agrarian society.
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When approaching horrific historical events like the rise of the violent Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, any filmmaker has to tread carefully. But Funan director Denis Do has to approach the subject with an extra layer of sensitivity because his animated film, hitting select theaters next week, is about his own family.
Do’s mother is the basis for the main character of the French-Belgian animated film, which follows a Cambodian woman who searches for her child after he is forcibly taken from her during the beginning of the Khmer Rouge revolution in April 1975.
/Film is debuting an exclusive Funan clip featuring Do speaking about how his family’s experiences informed the acclaimed animated film. Watch the Funan featurette below.
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