There has always been a realm of movies where there is a tacit understanding that its inhabitants will not cross borders. Last weekend, local productions topped box-office charts in Italy, South Korea, France, China, Thailand, Denmark and Poland. The likelihood of any of these crossing oceans and finding welcoming cineastes is probably remote.
Three of the films are straight-out sequels, two trade on prior successes and one is an adaptation of a classic novel that has already been made as a mini-series.
China's Getting Home is a wistful road movie about a man who agrees to take the body of a friend back to his village for burial. The film has the flavour of Waking Ned and its enthusiastic embrace at home is almost at a level associated with historical adventures such as last month's Curse Of The Golden Flower.
Culturally specific films
Historical pageants, as opposed to dramas or comedies set in a bygone era, rarely have an emotional punch for those unschooled in a particular culture and that may be the case for Thailand's The Legend Of King Naresuan I: Pegu's Hostage, from the same team that made the sumptuous Suriyothai. The earlier film was acquired by Francis Coppola and received limited international exposure. The new film centres on a 16th century ruler who fought for the nation's independence.
In France, Jacquou Le Croquant is a cross between Jean De Florette and Les Miserables - the saga of a young man who seeks retribution after his family is killed in Napoleonic France. Based on a turn-of-the-century novel, its foreign appeal is certainly limited by the obscurity of its source material.
Dlaczego Nie! is a Polish romantic comedy that roughly translates as, "Why not'" Its film-maker has specialised in the genre and his previous two films were big hits. Neither of the earlier movies had significant exposure beyond slotting in touring Polish Film Weeks.
The top films in Italy, South Korea and Denmark were all sequels and only Manuale D'Amore 2's predecessor had success in other parts of Europe. The original was an omnibus of four love stories and the sequel also opts for a quartet of romances connected chiefly by emotion.
Korea's Mapado 2 continues the story of eccentric islanders that began two years ago with Welcome To Mapado. The original was the country's Oscar submission and though it failed to make the final five, its offbeat humour and performances were warmly received. Yet the picture had no real distribution outside the peninsula.
The final sequel is the fourth film in Denmark's Anja And Viktor series that began in 2001 when the title characters were high-school sweethearts, and which have never really been seen outside Scandinavia.
The point to be made is that there are probably at least a couple of films among the recent popular international releases that sound intriguing and worth catching at the multiplex. However, that is rarely an option and the reasons for that situation are complicated, contrary and probably in the worst interests of global distribution. To be continued ...
- E-mail Len Klady at firstname.lastname@example.org.