Culture Learning: Films & Videos

This page provides suggestions, both specific and general, on the use of films and videos in cultural education.

Suggested Films and Videos

Balablock / Canadian Film Board

  An animated film depicting the various ways people react to others, strive for conformity, and are often intolerant of differences. It also shows the advantages that can be found in diversity. (71/2 minutes)

Becoming American / New Day Films

  This film records the story of a Laotian family as they become refugees and are resettled in the United States. The film depicts their struggles entering a new country, such as culture shock, prejudice, and gradual adaptation.

Better Together Than A-P-A-R-T / Intercultural Press

  In a presentation that is both scholarly and entertaining, Milton Bennett outlines fundamental concepts of intercultural communication. Some topics covered in his presentation are acculturation, stages of ethnocentrism, cultural values, cultural variation, verbal and nonverbal communication, styles of thinking, intercultural competence, and stereotyping.

Chairy Tale / Syracuse University

  Told without words, this story is about a young man who tries to sit on a chair that does not want to be sat upon. The film depicts the struggle between the two which ultimately leads to a need for understanding. (10 minutes, black and white)

Cold Water / Intercultural Press

  A commentary on the experiences and feelings of international students who have studied in the United States. The focus is on their adjustment, value conflicts, and their perceptions of Americans.

Coming Across / Pyramid Media

  Five American students interview students who have immigrated to the United States from a variety of places. This film looks to develop empathy and understanding. (46 min.)

Communicating Across Cultures / Copeland Griggs Productions / Intercultural Press (Available through the University of Minnesota Learning Resource Center.)

  This film discusses how misunderstandings can result from different communication styles. It also addresses the discomfort many people feel when dealing with issues of race and gender and suggests some ways to facilitate better communication. (30 minutes)

Crosstalk / Films Inc. / University of Minnesota

  With a focus on English, this film discusses the way linguistic and cultural differences can lead to negative judgments about others.
(Reviewed in TESOL Quarterly 1982, 16(2) 245-253).

Cultural Diversity / Intercultural Press

  French and American employees talk candidly about the difficulties they encounter when working together, and how they perceive themselves and others around them. (28 minutes)

Dialects / Georgia Center for Continuing Education

  Five people from different regions of the United States discuss the differences between characteristics of their regional dialect and what is considered Standard English. (30 minutes, black and white)

Differences / Kent State University

  A collection of people from various minority groups within the United States discuss their experiences and conflicts as they deal with the unwritten rules of white, middle-class America. They discuss stereotypes, family traditions, and the biases they see in educational materials. (25 minutes)

A Different Place & Creating Community / Intercultural Press (Available through the University of Minnesota Learning Resource Center.)

  This two-part presentation focuses on the complex issues affecting intercultural interactions, especially in the learning environment. (37 minutes)
  • A Different Place: The Intercultural Classroom (part I)
  • Creating Community: The intercultural classroom (part II)

Going International / Griggs Productions / IC Press

  This is a series of six films, all of which are designed to assist the traveler and expatriate develop cross-cultural skills. The six topics for the films are:

  1. Bridging the Culture Gap
  2. Managing the Overseas Assignment
  3. Beyond Culture Shock
  4. Welcome Home Stranger
  5. Working in the USA
  6. Living in the USA

Leader and user guides are also available.

How to Deal with the Foreign Accent / University of Minnesota

  This short video discusses the problems associated with communicating within a cross-cultural context and suggestions for overcoming them. (10 minutes)

How We Feel: Hispanic Students Speak Out / University of Minnesota

  A group of successful high school students from Spanish-speaking backgrounds reflect upon their experiences in school and suggest ways to improve the experiences of minority students. (21 minutes)

Living and Working in America/ Via Press, Inc.

  This program, in three volumes, demonstrates how cross-cultural skills and language are integrated. These films are for adult English language learners.

Managing Differences, Part I: Valuing Diversity / University of Minnesota

  This film offers effective strategies and communication skills that are necessary when working in a diverse environment. Different situations are presented which deal with issues revolving around gender, race, and ethnicity.

Planting Seeds for Peace / Intercultural Press

  A unique film chronicling the experiences of a small group of Israeli and Palestinian-Arab teenagers who toured American summer camps in 1988 discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Psychology of Attraction / Cally Curtis Co.

  This video provides a formula for change. (14 minutes)

The Psychology of Resistance / Cally Curtis Co.

  This video explains the psychological reasons why people resist change and how understanding this can aid in overcoming resistance, so that change can be viewed in a positive way. (11 minutes)

The Rainbow War / Pyramid Media

  Told as a fairy tale, the story touches upon issues such as ethnocentrism, fear of difference, and the potential for positive mutual understanding. Often controversial even with adult learners, this film was nominated for an Academy Award.

Skin Deep: College Students Confront Racism / Iris Films

  The film documents thought and feeling of several college students spending a weekend retreat together. It addresses issues of racism, prejudice, and cultural difference as seen through the eyes of this very diverse group of students.

Take Two / IRI International

  Scenes of miscommunication are shown, followed by a demonstration of skills for alleviating the miscommunication. Interactions between U.S and non-native speakers are used. (40 minutes)

Talking about Race (Parts 1&2) / Iris Films

  Part 1: Students from three major American universities candidly share their perspectives. The topics include, self separation of ethnic groups, the climate toward talking about race on campus, discrimination, affirmative action policies and finally, individual responsibility for change. Part 2: A diverse group of 23 students from six major American universities spend three days together to support and challenge one another through open, honest conversation. The dialogue focuses on a variety of topics including, the concept of individual responsibility, feeling from each other, wanting others to understand and finally, what can be done to move awareness to action (13 min each).

Telling It Like It Is: Reflections on Cultural Diversity / Intercultural Press

  With candor and humor, Joan Fountain leads her audience through some of her own experiences as an African American woman, trainer and teacher. She addresses issues such as how to deal with bigots and prejudiced remarks, racism and cultural identity, the power of words, post-discrimination trauma, nonverbal communication, etc. (62 min.)

Voices of Pain, Voices of Hope / Pyramid Media

  This film shows a sociology class at University of California, Los Angeles in which the ethnically and culturally diverse students find themselves confronting their own attitudes toward - and experiences with - prejudice and inequality in today's society. This confrontation forces them to come to terms with their own self-worth, self-image, and cultural pride, and encouraging the transformation of their personal worldview. (43 minutes)

Walls and Walls / Altschul Group

  Starting with a brief introduction on how people began building walls for physical protection, this film then shows how people have evolved this need into creating symbolic walls and personal walls for psychological protection. (10 minutes)

Where is Prejudice? / Indiana University

  An intense film about youths from diverse backgrounds who gather together to discuss the nature of prejudice. They come to the realization that prejudice is embedded in each one of them. Use this film with caution, as it can make a powerful statement. (60 minutes, black and white)

Why Do People Misunderstand Each Other? / Georgia Center for Continuing Education

  This film demonstrates how words are dynamic and often have different meanings for different people. (30 minutes, black and white)

A World of Gestures / University of Minnesota

  Shows people from many different countries performing different gestures and discusses the different meanings associated with each. Examines gestures as a form of nonverbal communication. (26 minutes)

Working Together: Managing Cultural Diversity / Intercultural Press (Available through the University of Minnesota Learning Resource Center.)

  In this video-book program, viewers learn how to monitor their words and body language to become more effective communicators within a multicultural setting. (25 minutes)

Other Popular Films

These commercial feature films have sometimes been used as starting points for discussions on issues surrounding cultural interactions, diversity, and language. They can usually be rented at any local video rental store.

Americans Abroad

  1. City of Joy (India)
  2. Good Morning Vietnam
  3. Local Hero (Scotland)
  4. Not without My Daughter (Iran)


  1. Awakenings
  2. Children of a Lesser God
  3. Forrest Gump
  4. Rain Man
  5. Shine


  1. Amistad
  2. The Color Purple
  3. Do the Right Thing
  4. Ghosts of Mississippi
  5. Glory
  6. The Long Walk Home
  7. Malcolm X
  8. Mississippi Burning

Asian American

  1. Becoming American
  2. Blue Collar and Buddha
  3. Cambodian Donut Dreams
  4. Dim Sum
  5. Double Happiness (Canada)
  6. Picture Bride


  1. El Norte
  2. Lone Star
  3. Mi Familia
  4. Stand and Deliver
  5. The Milagro Beanfield War

Native American

  1. Dances with Wolves
  2. Indian in the Cupboard
  3. Lakota Woman
  4. Powwow Highway
  5. Smoke Signals

Gay and Lesbian

  1. The Birdcage
  2. Desert Hearts
  3. La Cage Aux Folles
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Wedding Banquet


  1. Born in Absurdistan (Austria)
  2. East is East (England)
  3. Moscow on the Hudson


  1. Indochine (Vietnam)
  2. Kadosh (Israel)
  3. Rent a Friend (Netherlands)
  4. Shall We Dance (Japan)
  5. Schindler's List (Germany)
  6. The Gods Must Be Crazy (Africa)
  7. Out of Africa
  8. Zorba the Greek
  9. A Year of Living Dangerously (Indonesia)


  1. Crossing Delancey
  2. Moonstruck
  3. A Stranger among Us
  4. A River Runs through It
  5. Witness
  6. Yentl

References on Using Films and Videos

Condon, Jack. (1986).
Exploring intercultural communication through literature and film. World Englishes, 5(2/3), 153-161.

Ramsey, Sheila, & Frank, Toby S. (1979).
Suggestions for discussion of films- Example Chairy Tale. In M.D. Pusch (Ed.), Multicultural education. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press. (pp. 201-203).

Summerfield, Ellen. (1993).
Crossing cultures through film. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Zielger, Lee. (2000).
Film and video resources for international educational exchange. (2nd Edition) Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Major Film Rental Organizations

One of the most widely-used sources for audio-visual materials is:

NICEM - National Information Center for Educational Media
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 8640
Albuquerque, NM 87198
Street Address:
131 Adams St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108

Phone: (505) 265-3591
Toll-Free: (800) 926-8328

They maintain a database of information about educational media and materials for all age levels, all subject areas, and all types of media. Almost 600,000 individual media items are catalogued in the database, which is available online (on a subscription basis) and on CD-ROM.

Other sources for films include local libraries, universities and colleges. Such institutions often have a film department or film library and will lend materials out. In addition, they often have a lending agreements with other institutions to allow access to films they don't carry.

Altschul Group Corporation
1560 Sherman Avenue,Suite 100
Evanston, IL 60201
Phone: (847) 328-6700
Toll Free: (800) 323-9084
A major rental service.

California Newsreel
149 Ninth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 621-6196
Fax: (415) 621-6522
California Newsreel is the site for educational videos on African American life and history, race relations and diversity training,African cinema, Media and Society, labor studies, campus life and much more.

Cally Curtis Co.
111 No. Las Palmas Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038
Phone: (213) 467-1101

Chinese-American Cultural Bridge Center
2809 Embers Lane
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Phone: (888) 805 9494, or, (847) 364-0162
Fax (847) 364-0163
J.M. Oriental Arts offers a series of videotapes, music tapes and other educational materials, integrating the authentic Chinese music and traditional arts with current curriculums in K-12 schools.

Coronet / MTI Film & Video
108 Wilmot Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
Phone: (708) 240-1260 (call collect) Toll Free: (800)777-2400, or, (800)621-2131

Documentary Educational Resources
101 Morse Street
Watertown, MA 02172
Phone: (617) 926-0491
Toll Free: (800) 569-6621
DER is dedicated to the production, distribution and promotion of quality ethnographic and documentary films from around the world.

Educational Film Center
1501 F Backlick Road
Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: (703) 750-0560
Producer "Pacific Bridge" series (4-6th grade) which recounts the history of Americans of Asian descent, and "Pearls" (adults) which concentrates on the present status of Asians in America.

Educational Video Network
1339 19th Street
Huntsville, TX 77340
Phone: (936) 295-5767
Offers a variety of cultural diversity and foreign language video.

Filmakers Library
124 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016.
Phone: 212-808-4980
Fax: 212-808-4983
A collection of award-winning documentary films and videos primarily for educational use. Subjects covered are psychology, sociology, anthropology, women's studies and multicultural issues. Available for rental or sale to universities, schools, museums, businesses and community groups.

Films for the Humanities & Sciences
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543-2053
Phone: 800-257-5126
Fax: 609-275-3767
More than 7,000 video, CD-ROM, and videodisc programs cover a broad range of subject areas appropriate for schools, colleges, and public libraries.

Georgia Center for Continuing Education
Film Library
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
Phone: (404) 542-1184
Toll Free: (800) 488-7827

German Language Video Center
7625 Pendleton Pike
Indianapolis, Indiana 46226-5298 USA
Phone (317) 547-1257
Fax (317) 547-1263
A collection of over 2400 German language videos for sale or rent in the USA.

Greentree Distribution
1239 14th Street, suite D
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Griggs Productions
5616 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94121-2118
Phone: (415) 668-4200
Fax: (415) 668-6004 Email:
Videos related to valuing and managing diversity, as well as trhe 6-tape series "going international."

Indiana University Media Resources
Franklin Hall 0009
601 E. Kirkwood
Bloomington, IN 47405-1223
Phone: (812) 855-8765
Toll Free: 800-552-8620 (out of state), or, 800-942-0481 (in Indiana)

Home Film Festival
P.O. Box 2032
Scranton, PA 18501 - 2032
Phone: (800)-258-3456
Fax (570) 344-3810
Offers very inexpensively over 3700 films, including an extensive foreign film collection.

Indiana University
Audio-Visual Center
Field Service Department
Bloomington, IN 47401

International Film Bureau
332 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60604-4382
Phone: (800) 432-2241

Intercultural Press
374 U.S. Route One
P.O. Box 700
Yarmouth, ME 04096
Phone: (207) 846-5168
Toll Free: (800) 370-2665

IRI International
One Lagoon Drive, Suite 230
Redwood City, CA 94065
Phone: (415) 591-8100

Iris Film Library
2600 Tenth Street, Ste. 413
Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone: (510) 845-5414, or, (510) 841-3336
Toll Free: (800) 343-5540
A non-profit documentary film company dedicated to making films that address social justice issues and challenge individuals to examine their own beliefs and work toward change.

Japan Society Films
333 E. 47th Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 832-1155
Note: available only in NYC.

National Film Board of Canada
350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4820
New York, NY 10118
Phone: (212) 629-8890
Fax: (212) 629-8502

New Day Films (Alternative filmmakers)
121 W. 27th Street, Suite 902
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 645-8210

New Day Films
22-D Hollywood Avenue
Hohokus, NJ 07423
Ph: 201.652.6590
Fax: 201.652.1973

PBS Video
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314-1698
Phone: (800) 344-3337

Pyramid Media
P.O. Box 1048
Santa Monica, CA 90406
Phone: (310) 828-7577
Toll Free: (800) 421-2304
Over 700 education and training related films and videos.

Syracuse University
Film Video Rental Center
1455 E. Colvin Street
Syracuse, NY 13244
Toll Free: (800) 345-6797
A major rental source.

Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue,10th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 947-9277
Fax: (212) 594-6417
Third World Newsreel is one of the oldest alternative media arts organizations in the United States, committed to the creation and appreciation of independent and social issue media by and about people of color, and the peoples of developing countries around the world.

University of California, Berkeley
Extension Center for Media & Independent Learning
2000 Center St. Suite 400
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 642-0460 (preview or rent), or, (510) 642-5578 (purchase)

University of Minnesota Learning Resource Center
Walter Library, 204
117 Pleasant St. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: 612-624-1584
Fax: 612-625-2519

Via Press, Inc.
400 E. Evergreen Boulevard, Suite 314
Vancouver, WA 98660
Phone: (800) 944-8421


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