Recommended European Films on Poverty


Vodka Lemon.2003.Dir. Huner Saleem. Drama, Comedy. Set in an Armenian village, still suffering economically from the Soviet collapse. A widower, visits his wife’s grave everyday and meets Nina, a widow who works in a bar, which is about to close down. Both are penniless, yet start an unexpected relationship that revitalizes them..

(with French subtitles)


L’Enfant. 2005. Dirs. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.Crime, Drama, Romance. Sonia and Bruno, a young couple living off her welfare benefits and the thefts committed by his gang, have a new source of money: their newborn son..

Two Days, One Night. 2014. Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne.Drama.A young Belgian mother discovers that her workmates at a small solar-panel factory have opted for a pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job, and so that she and her family do not have to go back on welfare..


An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker. 2013. Danis Tanović. Drama, Documentary. Nazif salvages and sells metal from old cars, while his wife is a stay at home mom. She is pregnant and facing health complications, but does not have insurance. The film depicts a race against time and a mounting sense of hopelessness, played by a cast of non-professional actors re-enacting an episode from their own lives..


The Match Factory Girl. 1990. Dir. Aki Kaurismäki. Drama, Comedy. Iris has a soul-deadening job as a quality-control worker watching boxes of matches go by on an assembly line all day. When she discovers that she’s pregnant, years of pent-up rage explode in a shocking outburst..(full movie)


Ernest and Celestine. 2012. Dir. Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar. Animated, Drama, Comedy. There is a world of where the Bears live above ground in their cities and the rodents live below in in their underground ones in mutual fear and hate. However, Celestine, an apprentice mouse dentist, finds at least momentary common cause with Ernest, a poor street Bear musician, that gets them rejected from both their respective worlds. .

Le Havre. 2011. Dir. Aki Kaurismäki. Comedy, Drama.When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home..


The Edukators.. 2005. Dir. Hans Weingartner. Comedy, Crime, Drama. Peter, Jan, and Jule are “edukators,” anarchists who break into wealthy people’s homes—never stealing, but serving notice to fatcats that their days are numbered. .


Boy Eating the Bird’s Food. 2013.Dir. Ektoras Lygizos. Drama. Three days in the life of an Athens boy who is without a job, a girlfriend, or anything to eat. The only thing he has left is his canary, and he will quite literally share with it anything he’s got..


Blood of My Blood. 2011. Dir. João Canijo. Drama. Marcia’s plan to lead her family out of the Lisbon slums is threatened by her daughter’s affair with a married professor and her son’s involvement in dealing drugs..


Beyond the Hills. 2012. Dir. Cristian Mungiu. Drama. The narrative follows two young women, who grew up together in the same orphanage. Now residing in an Orthodox convent in Romania, the women struggle to come to terms with their love for one another as they are confronted with religious consequences..


Mondays in the Sun. 2002.Dir. Fernando León de Aranoa. Comedy, Drama. The film depicts the degrading effects of unemployment on a group of men who worked in a dockyard in Vigo, a port town in Spain, which was recently closed..


Fish Tank. 2009. Dir. Andrea Arnold. Drama. The film is about a volatile and socially isolated 15-year-old who lives with her single mother in an East London public housing estate. The mother’s new boyfriend, Conor, becomes attracted to Mia and has a sexual relationship with her..

Once. Ireland 2007. Dir. John Carney. Drama, Romance, Musical. An Irish vacuum repairman who moonlights as a street musician meets a Czech immigrant, who sells flowers on the streets. The pair collaborates and the songs they compose reflect their love story, as they explore the city of Dublin..

In This World. UK. 2002. Dir. Michael Winterbottom. Drama. The film follows two young Afghan refugees, as they leave a refugee camp in Pakistan for a better life in London. Since their journey is illegal, it is fraught with danger, and they must use back channels, bribes, and smugglers to achieve their goal..


–Courtney Miller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *