Thinking about Movies About Immigration, there are many creators exploring this idea. We assembled 25 of our favorites.
From Francis Ford Coppola, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American crime epic film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. It is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather (1972), offering two parallel storylines. One follows the story of the young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) as he rises to power in early 1900s New York City, while the other focuses on Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the aftermath of his father's death as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas and Cuba. Both storylines intertwine, with Michael's story taking the lead. The film also features Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, and Talia Shire. The Godfather Part II received critical acclaim for its performances, direction, writing, cinematography, and scale. It also won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for De Niro, making him the second actor to win an Oscar for portraying the same character in two different films.
Éric Toledano, starring François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot
The Intouchables is a French comedy-drama film released in 2011. It was directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano and it stars François Cluzet and Omar Sy. The film tells the story of a wealthy quadriplegic and a young man from the projects who become unlikely friends. The quadriplegic, Philippe, is looking for someone to take care of him and be his companion, and eventually he is introduced to Driss, a man from the projects with no formal education, but with a lot of street smarts and charisma. Despite their differences in backgrounds, they develop a close and unique bond, learning from each other and growing together as they experience a variety of adventures and misadventures. In the end, they both learn how to live life to the fullest and become the best versions of themselves.
From Brian De Palma, starring Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Scarface (1983) is a classic crime drama directed by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino as Cuban refugee Tony Montana. After arriving in Miami, Montana rises to the top of the city's criminal underworld with his partner Manny Ray (Steven Bauer). Montana's ruthless ambition leads him to become one of the most powerful drug lords in the city, and he soon finds himself pitted against other criminal organizations and the US government’s efforts to shut them down. In spite of his success, Montana's desire for power and wealth puts himself, and his loved ones, in danger and ultimately leads to his downfall.
Marjane Satrapi, starring Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands, Danielle Darrieux
"Persepolis" (2007) is an autobiographical animated film directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. The film follows the story of Marjane, a young Iranian girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Through her experiences and observations, the audience is given an intimate look into the social and political upheaval of the time period. Marjane struggles to find her identity and place in the world, dealing with issues of religion, family, feminism, and politics. With a mix of humor and tragedy, Marjane’s coming-of-age story is an inspiring account of resilience in the face of overwhelming odds.
From Alfonso Cuarón, starring Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine
Children of Men is a science fiction thriller set in 2027, where human infertility has rendered mankind unable to reproduce and society is on the brink of collapse. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is a former activist trying to survive in a world without hope. When he meets a woman who is pregnant with the first child in 18 years, he is enlisted to help protect her and take her to safety. Along the way, he is forced to confront his past, his beliefs and his own mortality as he fights to protect the future of humanity.
From Lars von Trier, starring Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare
"Dancer in the Dark" tells the story of Selma, a single mother living in rural Washington state who is slowly losing her eyesight. Despite her hardship, Selma finds joy in music and dreams of a better life for her and her son Gene. When tragedy strikes, Selma is forced to turn to desperate measures to keep Gene out of harm's way. The powerful story of Selma's fight against despair, poverty, and her failing vision is a heartbreaking look at the human spirit.
From James Cameron, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Titanic is a 1997 epic romance and disaster film directed, written, and co-produced by James Cameron. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic during its ill-fated maiden voyage in April 1912. The story follows the two as they strive to survive and escape the sinking ship. The film is based on real events, including the sinking of the Titanic, and has become one of the highest-grossing films of all time. It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 11, including Best Picture. The film's legacy has endured in popular culture, and its iconic score, composed by James Horner, is one of the most recognizable in history.
From Fatih Akin, starring Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Güven Kiraç, Zarah Jane McKenzie
Head-On tells the story of two young Turkish-Germans, Cahit and Sibel, who meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. Cahit is an alcoholic and Sibel is suicidal, so they form a pact to marry and give each other the freedom to have relationships on the side. However, their marriage soon begins to unravel as they struggle to come to terms with their own personal demons and the cultural differences that have kept them apart. The film explores themes of identity, alienation and love as it follows the couple through a tumultuous journey of self-discovery.
From Theodoros Angelopoulos, starring Bruno Ganz, Isabelle Renauld, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Ahilleas Skevis
Eternity and a Day is a 1998 Greek film directed by Theodoros Angelopoulos. It follows Alexandre (Bruno Ganz), an elderly poet who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He takes off on a journey of self-discovery, accompanied by a young refugee boy who he has taken under his wing. Along his journey, he revisits his past and reflects on his life, while also facing the reality of his impending mortality. Ultimately, he finds a new sense of purpose and life's possibilities in the most unexpected place. Filled with dream-like and visually stunning sequences, the film is a thoughtful meditation on life, love, and the search for meaning in the face of death.
From Elia Kazan, starring Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Elena Karam, Harry Davis
America America is a 1963 American drama film directed by Elia Kazan and starring Stathis Giallelis, Frank Wolff and Elena Karam. The film is a fictionalized account of Kazan's own uncle's emigration from Ottoman Greece to the United States. The film tells the story of Stavros Topouzoglou (Giallelis), a young Greek man living in a small Anatolian village. Stavros dreams of freedom from the oppressive rule of the Ottoman Turks, and decides to leave his homeland in search of a better life in America. His journey takes him through various countries—Bulgaria, Turkey, Germany, and eventually France—where he faces extreme hardships and poverty in his quest for a new life. Stavros eventually makes it to America to start a new life, although not without a few setbacks along the way. America America is a powerful and emotionally charged film, showcasing the struggles of an individual and their family in leaving their homeland in search of the American dream. The film has been acclaimed by critics and is considered an important work in Kazan's career.
From Jim Sheridan, starring Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Djimon Hounsou, Sarah Bolger
In America is a 2002 film directed by Jim Sheridan. It follows an Irish family who immigrate to New York City in search of a fresh start. They struggle to adjust to their new life in America, while dealing with the death of their eldest daughter. Through their struggles, they eventually find strength in their faith and in each other. The film touches on themes of family, grief, immigration, and hope.
From Gregory Nava, starring Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, David Villalpando, Ernesto Gómez Cruz, Alicia del Lago
El Norte is a 1983 epic drama film directed by Gregory Nava and starring Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando. Set in Guatemala and Mexico, the story follows a brother and sister, Enrique and Rosa, who flee Guatemala after their parents are murdered by the military and journey to the United States in search of a better life. Along their journey, they face numerous obstacles and harsh realities, including exploitation and prejudice, before ultimately finding a life of freedom and opportunity in the United States. El Norte is a powerful tale of courage and the will to survive.
Luc Dardenne, starring Jérémie Renier, Olivier Gourmet, Assita Ouedraogo, Jean-Michel Balthazar
Rated Not Rated
The Promise is a 1996 drama film directed by the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc. It tells the story of a young man named Olivier, played by Jérémie Renier, who falls in love with his boss's daughter, Aimee, played by Emilie Dequenne. When her father, a doctor, finds out, he forces Olivier to make a promise to Aimee that he will pay for her medical studies. Olivier takes on a series of dangerous jobs to fulfill the promise, while Aimee becomes pregnant and must make a difficult decision. The film explores themes of loyalty, courage, and the difficult choices people must make in order to keep a promise. It is a powerful story of love and morality, and is considered one of the best films of the Dardenne brothers.
From Wayne Wang, starring Tamlyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao, Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin
The Joy Luck Club is a 1993 film directed by Wayne Wang and based on the novel by Amy Tan. The film follows the lives of four Chinese-American mothers and their four Chinese-American daughters. The Joy Luck Club focuses on the generational and cultural divides between the two generations, as the mothers and daughters attempt to bridge the gap between them. Through their stories of heartache, love, and tragedy, the film explores the themes of family, identity, and cultural heritage. With an all-star cast led by Ming-Na Wen and Tamlyn Tomita, The Joy Luck Club is a stirring and emotional examination of the mother-daughter bond, and an exploration of the Chinese-American experience.
From Marc Forster, starring Khalid Abdalla, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub
The Kite Runner is a 2007 American drama film directed by Marc Forster and based on Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel of the same name. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan. The two share a bond of loyalty and friendship despite the socio-economic divide between their families. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States and the Taliban regime. When an unspeakable act of betrayal tears the two friends apart, Amir embarks on a journey of redemption that takes him to the streets of San Francisco. Through courage, sacrifice and the power of friendship, Amir ultimately confronts his past and finds the redemption he so desperately seeks.
From Tom McCarthy, starring Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass
The Visitor is a 2007 drama film written and directed by Tom McCarthy and starring Richard Jenkins as Walter Vale, a Connecticut College professor who unexpectedly finds himself forming an unexpected connection with two illegal immigrants while attending a conference in New York. When Walter returns from his conference, he discovers that the apartment he owns in the city has been taken over by Tarek, a Syrian musician, and his Senegalese girlfriend, Zainab. After initial misgivings, Walter eventually allows them to stay, and he begins to form an unlikely friendship with the two. As their lives become increasingly intertwined, Walter finds himself learning more about them and their culture, and discovers a newfound passion for life and music. With the help of his newfound friends, Walter embarks on a journey of self-discovery and eventually takes a stand in order to protect Tarek and Zainab from deportation. Through his experiences, Walter learns to accept and appreciate the beauty of cultural differences, and discovers an inner strength he never knew he had.
Robert Wise, starring Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn
West Side Story is a classic musical film released in 1961 and directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise. The film is based on the Broadway musical of the same name, and tells the story of two rival gangs in 1950s New York City – the Jets and the Sharks. When a young man from the Jets falls in love with the sister of the leader of the Sharks, a violent and ultimately tragic rivalry erupts between the two groups. Featuring iconic songs such as "Tonight," "Maria," and "America," the film earned 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
From Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Broadbent
Gangs of New York is a historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the notorious slums of New York City. The film follows a young man, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he seeks revenge against William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) for the murder of his father. Along the way, Amsterdam discovers the history of the city, from the gangs that ruled the Five Points to the corrupt politicians and immigrants that shaped the city’s future. Through his journey, Amsterdam learns the importance of family and loyalty in a city of chaos and conflict.
From Vadim Perelman, starring Jennifer Connelly, Ben Kingsley, Ron Eldard, Frances Fisher
House of Sand and Fog tells the story of two people's struggle for control over a house in Northern California. Kathy, an Iranian-American immigrant, is evicted from her house and forced to move out due to a bureaucratic error. Despite her desperate pleas, Kathy is unable to reclaim the house. Soon afterward, the house is sold at an auction to Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian immigrant and former colonel in the Imperial Iranian Army. Behrani sees the house as a chance to restore his family's dignity and provide a better life for his wife and teenage son. However, Kathy still wants the house, refusing to give up without a fight. As the two sides clash, the house becomes a symbol of their struggle and the consequences of their conflict soon spiral out of control.
From Mira Nair, starring Kal Penn, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Jacinda Barrett
The Namesake is a 2006 drama film directed by Mira Nair. It is based on the novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri. The film follows the story of the Ganguli family, an Indian American family living in New York. Ashoke Ganguli (Irrfan Khan) and his wife Ashima (Tabu) move to America from Calcutta, India, with the hope of providing a better life for their unborn child. When their son is born, they name him Gogol (Kal Penn) after Ashoke's favorite author, Nikolai Gogol. Gogol grows up struggling to reconcile his Indian cultural background with his American identity. He struggles to find his place in a new country, while also trying to please his traditional parents. As Gogol grows older, he learns to embrace his heritage and be comfortable with his identity. Along the way, he also learns how to love and forgive his parents. In the end, Gogol comes to terms with his place in the world and finds his own sense of identity.
Jon Shenk, starring Santino Majok Chuor, Jarrid Geduld, Peter Kon Dut
Lost Boys of Sudan (2003) is a documentary film that follows the story of two young men, Peter and Santino, as they flee their war-torn home in Southern Sudan to seek refuge in the United States. The film follows their extraordinary journey, as they travel over 6,000 miles, facing many obstacles along the way, and eventually make it to the United States. Along the way, the film looks at the harrowing experiences of the Lost Boys of Sudan and how they were forced to flee their homes and families in order to survive. The film also highlights the importance of education and how it can be a path to a better future for the Lost Boys, as well as all refugees. Ultimately, both Peter and Santino are able to settle in the United States and make a better life for themselves.
From Alejandro G. Iñárritu, starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Mohamed Akhzam
Babel is a 2006 drama film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The film follows the intertwining stories of four separate groups of people in Morocco, Japan, Mexico and the United States. The stories are connected by a single rifle, which is used in a tragic accident in Morocco that sets off a chain of events that reverberates throughout all four countries. The film explores the complex and interconnected nature of human relationships, and the power of human connection to overcome cultural barriers. The film explores themes of guilt, redemption, and the power of language in communicating across cultural boundaries. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning Best Original Score and Best Cinematography.
From John Crowley, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent
Brooklyn is a 2015 romantic drama directed by John Crowley and based on the novel of the same name by Colm Toibin. The movie follows the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant to Brooklyn, New York in the early 1950s. Arriving with nothing but her meager savings, Eilis quickly finds a job, a place to live, and a sense of belonging. However, when an unexpected tragedy calls her back to Ireland, she must choose between the two places she now calls home. As she is torn between two cultures, Eilis must decide where she ultimately belongs and who she truly loves. Brooklyn is a beautiful and heart-warming story of identity, love, family, and home.
From Philippe Lioret, starring Vincent Lindon, Firat Ayverdi, Audrey Dana, Derya Ayverdi
Rated Not Rated
Welcome is a 2009 French-Belgian drama film directed by Philippe Lioret and starring Vincent Lindon. The movie follows the story of an Iraqi refugee and his attempts to cross the English Channel to reunite with his girlfriend who is living in London. Along the way, he meets a local swimming instructor and the two form a bond of friendship as they attempt to help each other reach their goals. The film examines the difficult situation of illegal immigrants and their struggles to make a new life for themselves, as well as the responses of the people they meet in their journey. The film ultimately delivers a message of hope and compassion.
From Cary Joji Fukunaga, starring Paulina Gaitan, Marco Antonio Aguirre, Leonardo Alonso, Karla Cecilia Alvarado
Sin Nombre is a 2009 drama directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and produced by John J. Kelly. It tells the story of two very different people, a Honduran teenage gang member, Willy (Edgar Flores), and Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) a Honduran girl on her way to the United States to reunite with her father. Willy is a member of a gang of train-hopping bandits in Honduras who extort money from the migrants they encounter. After one of his journeys, he runs into Sayra who is trying to make it to the United States. Willy protects her on their journey and the two form a bond. Along the way, they must battle the gang members who are hunting for them and the racism and xenophobia they encounter in the US. The film follows them as they navigate their journey and the obstacles that stand in their way in search of a better life. In the end, Willy and Sayra are able to make it across the border and start new lives.
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