10 International Animated Films That Showcase World Cultures – Dana Ziyasheva reports (Guest Post)

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The United States has always been a culturally diverse country, and it will become even more so in the future. In 2019, more than half of Americans under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority for the first time – so not really a minority after all! Young audiences want to relate to what they’re watching, explore their heritage, and learn about their friends’ cultural background. And Hollywood has started to take notice: Moana, Mulan, Coco, and Encanto added ethnic diversity to Disney/Pixar’s time-tested formula, with action-packed, broad-stroke narratives centered on their title characters’ identity search.

As a parent, I want my kids to see the world as a dazzling array of cultures, a rich and varied tapestry woven by the creativity of humankind. Families can use movies like the ones below to begin or continue essential conversations about cultural codes, biases and stereotypes, cross-cultural communication, and inter-faith dialogue. Ranging from the 1922 version of Cinderella to 2019’s The Knight and the Princess, these non-English movies provide a glimpse into the history of animation around the world. Created in the now-defunct Soviet Union, The Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka offer subtle expressions of social opposition. Others, like the Egyptian Knight and Princess, are a labor of love and cultural statement by their creators. Bouba & Zaza Protect the Earth, Pachamama, The Legend of Buddha, and Kirikou are the dazzling result of international cooperation and contribute to global conversation on sustainable development. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).