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By Anna Julia Vissioli Rodrigues

Growing up in Cary, NC, I had a favorite lunch and dinner topic: Brazilian shows and films. I especially loved talking about Turma da Mônica and Sítio do Picapau Amarelo. Turma da Mônica began as a newspaper comic strip in 1959, became a comic book series in 1970 and later was developed into films and television shows around the adventures of Mônica and her friends. Sítio do Picapau Amarelo was a book series from 1920 to 1947 that later spawned several films and TV shows. The core story follows a woman and her grandchildren, whose cloth doll comes to life when they arrive at the farm Picapau Amarelo. Their adventures take them to new worlds and cause them to interact with characters from Brazilian folklore, such as the villain Cuca, an alligator woman who kidnaps children who are up past their bedtime.

Now, why were these foreign shows so important to me that I spent hours talking about them? They might have been foreign to my friends, but they were home to me. I was born in Brazil and lived there for nine years before moving to the United States. I constantly missed Brazil and felt like I left a piece of myself behind. But every time I talked about these films and shows, I relived my childhood. 

It reminded me of walking to the newspaper stand with my grandfather to pick up the newest Turma da Mônica issue or racing home from school to watch an episode of Sítio do Picapau Amarelo. I also remember loving these characters — sharing their joy, laughing at their jokes, crying when they cried, screaming at their injustice and cheering them on with each adventure. When I spoke about them, the small hole in my heart that missed my family was filled.

This experience made me appreciate foreign media even more. Watching films like Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon-ho, I get the chance to see not only a great film filled with thought-provoking themes, but a glimpse of a culture and home that is not mine. I have never been to South Korea, yet for two hours and 12 minutes, I was part of that culture and community.

Foreign media grants you the opportunity to see your home or someone else’s home on the big screen and be part of a culture far from your physical reach. This is what makes The Independent Picture House and its mission so important. IPH prioritizes screening foreign films to educate, engage and enable the Charlotte community and to allow audiences to interact with a country, culture and community miles away.

You can always watch foreign films and experience different cultures at IPH. Make sure to check our selection of foreign films!

Anna Julia Vissioli Rodrigues is a recent graduate from Queens University of Charlotte and is the communication intern for IPH.
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