32 Asian Arthouse Films That You Can Watch For Your Virtual Travel

ASIAN ARTHOUSE FILMS. Scene from Yi Yi (2000)

Are you looking to travel the world from the comfort of your own home? Look no further than this list of 32 Asian arthouse films that will transport you to different corners of the continent. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene countryside of China, these films offer a glimpse into the beauty and complexity of Asian cultures. Whether you’re a film buff or simply seeking a new adventure, these movies are sure to satisfy your wanderlust and provide a unique perspective on the world. So grab your popcorn, sit back, and get ready for a virtual journey through Asia’s finest arthouse cinema.

South Korea Arthouse Films

South Korean arthouse films have gained significant attention in recent years, both within the country and internationally. These films are known for their unique blend of social commentary, psychological depth, and artistic expression. The genre has roots in the late 1950s and 1960s, but it was not until the 1990s that South Korean arthouse films gained prominence. The genre’s popularity has grown steadily since then, with directors experimenting with different themes, styles, and genres. The themes tackled in these films range from the exploration of social issues, such as class inequality and political corruption, to more personal and psychological themes, such as identity and existentialism. South Korean arthouse films have also gained attention for their unique visual style, which often incorporates elements of surrealism and magical realism. As the genre continues to evolve, it is likely to remain a major force in the world of cinema, both within South Korea and beyond.


Asian Arthouse Films: Broker (South Korea)

Broker is a 2022 South Korean drama film directed and written by Hirokazu Kore-eda starring Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Bae Doona, Lee Ji-eun, and Lee Joo-young. The film revolves around characters associated with baby boxes, which allow infants to be dropped off anonymously to be cared for by others.

Decision to Leave

Asian Arthouse Films: Decision to Leave (South Korea)

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.


Asian Arthouse Films: Parasite (South Korea)

Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.


Asian Arthouse Films: Burning (South Korea)

Jong-soo runs into Hae-mi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood, and she asks him to watch her cat while she’s out of town. When she returns, she introduces him to Ben, a man she met on the trip. Ben proceeds to tell Jong-soo about his hobby.

The Day After

Asian Arthouse Films: The Day After (South Korea)

When a woman discovers a love poem that was written for her husband, she mistakenly believes that the author is her husband’s new secretary.


Asian Arthouse Films: Okja (South Korea)

For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.

The Handmaiden

Asian Arthouse Films: The Handmaiden (South Korea)

With help from an orphaned pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri), a Korean con man (Ha Jung-woo) devises an elaborate plot to seduce and bilk a Japanese woman (Kim Min-hee) out of her inheritance.

In Another Country

Asian Arthouse Films: In Another Country (South Korea)

Three separate stories about French women who travel to a Korean seaside town.

The Taste of Money

Asian Arthouse Films: The Taste of Money (South Korea)

The assistant of a wealthy socialite reveals her husband’s salacious affair. The fallout entangles him in a web of sex, love and deceit that could threaten his life and career.

Thailand Arthouse Films

Thai arthouse films have a rich history and have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. The genre dates back to the 1970s, but it was not until the 1990s that Thai arthouse films gained wider recognition both within the country and internationally. These films often tackle sensitive social issues, such as gender and sexual identity, as well as more universal themes of human relationships, mortality, and spirituality. Thai arthouse films are known for their intricate storytelling, unconventional narrative structures, and unique visual style that blends realism with dreamlike sequences. This genre has also produced some notable female directors who have gained critical acclaim for their innovative and thought-provoking films. As the Thai film industry continues to grow, it is likely that arthouse films will remain a significant part of the country’s cinematic landscape, continuing to challenge audiences with their distinct artistic vision and commentary on contemporary issues.


Asian Arthouse Films: Memoria (Thailand)

*produced with Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, and the UK

A Scottish woman, after hearing a loud ‘bang’ at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.

Iran Arthouse Films

Iranian arthouse films are known for their poetic and introspective approach to storytelling, exploring complex themes such as social justice and identity through a deeply humanistic lens. The country’s cinema has a long and celebrated history, with directors pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling techniques. Trends in Iranian arthouse films include a minimalist and introspective approach, as well as the use of a subtle and poetic visual language. Despite facing challenges such as censorship and limited resources, Iranian arthouse films continue to have a significant impact on the global film industry, cementing their place as an important and unique voice in world cinema.

A Hero

Asian Arthouse Films: A Hero (Iran)

Rahim is in prison because of a debt he was unable to repay. During a two-day leave, he tries to convince his creditor to withdraw his complaint against the payment of part of the sum, however things don’t go as planned.

3 Faces

Asian Arthouse Films: 3 Faces (Iran)

Actress Behnaz Jafari is distraught when she comes across a young girl’s video plea for help after her family prevents her from taking up her studies at the Tehran drama conservatory. Behnaz abandons her shoot and turns to filmmaker Jafar Panahi to help with the young girl’s troubles. They travel by car to the rural Northwest, where they have amusing encounters with the charming and generous folk of the girl’s mountain village. But Behnaz and Jafar also discover that old traditions die hard.

The Salesman

Asian Arthouse Films: The Salesman (Iran)

After their flat becomes damaged, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a young couple living in Tehran, Iran, must move into another apartment. Once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes their lives, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife.

Israel Arthouse Films

Israeli arthouse films have a unique place in the world of cinema, known for their exploration of complex political and social issues. The genre emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to the country’s changing political landscape and cultural identity. These films often deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as themes of identity, immigration, and the challenges of daily life in the region. Israeli arthouse films have also been noted for their experimentation with cinematic form, using techniques such as nonlinear storytelling, symbolism, and surrealism to convey their messages. This genre has produced some internationally acclaimed directors who have brought attention to Israeli cinema, such as Amos Gitai and Ari Folman. Despite the challenges posed by the country’s political situation, Israeli arthouse films have continued to thrive and provide an important platform for exploring and reflecting on the complexities of Israeli society.

Ahed’s Knee*

Asian Arthouse Films: Ahed’s Knee (Israel)

*produced with France

An Israeli filmmaker in his mid-40s arrives in a remote village at the far end of the desert to present one of his films. There, he meets an officer for the Ministry of Culture and finds himself fighting for his freedoms and his mother’s life.

Japan Arthouse Films

Japanese arthouse films have a long and rich history, dating back to the early days of Japanese cinema in the 1920s. The genre has been characterized by its exploration of social issues, such as gender, class, and cultural identity, as well as its emphasis on visual style and experimentation with cinematic form. Japanese arthouse films have often dealt with themes of loneliness, alienation, and the struggle to find meaning in life, which reflect Japan’s unique cultural and historical context. These films are known for their poetic and often surrealistic imagery, as well as their use of natural settings and landscapes to convey mood and emotion. Japanese arthouse cinema has produced some of the most influential and celebrated filmmakers in the world, such as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu, who have left an indelible mark on the history of cinema. Despite the challenges posed by the decline of the Japanese film industry in recent years, arthouse films remain an important part of Japanese cultural expression and continue to captivate audiences around the globe.

Drive My Car

Asian Arthouse Films: Drive My Car (Japan)

An aging, widowed actor seeks a chauffeur. The actor turns to his go-to mechanic, who ends up recommending a 20-year-old girl. Despite their initial misgivings, a very special relationship develops between the two.

Asako I & II

Asian Arthouse Films: Asako I & II (Japan)

Asako meets and falls madly in love with drifter Baku who one day drifts right out of her life. Two years later, working in Tokyo, Asako sees Baku again — or, rather, a young, solid businessman named Ryohei who bears a striking resemblance to her old flame. They begin to build a happy life together until traces of Asako’s past start to resurface.


Asian Arthouse Films: Shoplifters (Japan)

On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders is united by fierce loyalty and a penchant for petty theft. When the young son is arrested, secrets are exposed that upend their tenuous, below-the-radar existence.


Asian Arthouse Films: Radiance (Japan)

A photographer who loses sight and a career-focused woman share a chance meeting and bond over photographs.

Our Little Sister

Asian Arthouse Film: Our Little Sister (Japan)

After the death of their estranged father, three siblings (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho) invite their half sister (Suzu Hirose) to live with them.

Still the Water

Asian Arthouse Films: Still the Water (Japan)

Still the Water is a 2014 Japanese romance film directed by Naomi Kawase. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

Like Father, Like Son

Asian Arthouse Films: Like Father, Like Son (Japan)

Ryota learns that his biological son was switched at birth with the boy he has raised, and he must make a life-impacting decision between his two sons.

Shield of Straw

Asian Arthouse Films: Shield of Straw (Japan)

Shield of Straw is a 2013 Japanese spy thriller film directed by Takashi Miike. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and it was released on 26 April 2013.

Like Someone in Love*

Asian Arthouse Films: Like Someone in Love (Japan)

An elderly man (Tadashi Okuno) and a student/escort girl (Rin Takanashi) take on different roles over the course of their unusual relationship.

*produced with France

China Arthouse Films

Chinese arthouse films have a vibrant history that spans several decades and have been instrumental in shaping the country’s cultural identity. The genre emerged in the 1980s, as China began to open up to the outside world and explore new artistic directions. These films often tackle issues of cultural identity, social justice, and political oppression, while also exploring the human condition in its many forms. Chinese arthouse films are known for their poetic imagery, naturalistic settings, and innovative storytelling techniques, such as the use of nonlinear narratives and dreamlike sequences. These films have also been noted for their distinct visual style, which combines the natural beauty of China’s landscapes with a unique cinematic aesthetic. Despite government censorship and other challenges, Chinese arthouse films continue to flourish, with directors pushing the boundaries of cinematic expression and exploring new themes and techniques. The genre has produced internationally renowned filmmakers such as Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-wai, who have helped bring Chinese arthouse cinema to the world stage.

The Wild Goose Lake

Asian Arthouse Films: The Wild Goose Lake (China)

A gangster ends up making a mistake that causes every gun on both sides of the law to point at him. While on the run, he comes across a mysterious woman who might get him out of trouble or make things worse.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood*

Asian Arthouse Films: Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (China)

*produced with the UK and the US

Actor Rick Dalton gained fame and fortune by starring in a 1950s television Western, but is now struggling to find meaningful work in a Hollywood that he doesn’t recognize anymore. He spends most of his time drinking and palling around with Cliff Booth, his easygoing best friend and longtime stunt double. Rick also happens to live next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate — the filmmaker and budding actress whose futures will forever be altered by members of the Manson Family.

Ash is Purest White

Asian Arthouse Films: Ash is Purest White (China)

In an industrial city in China, a young dancer named Qiao falls in love with a mobster named Bin. When a fight breaks out between rival gangs, Qiao uses a gun to protect Bin and is sent to prison for five years.

Mountains May Depart*

Asian Arthouse Films: Mountains May Depart (China)

*produced with Japan and France

On the cusp of the capitalist explosion in China, Shen Tao has two suitors: Zhang, an aspiring entrepreneur, and his best friend Liangzi, who works in a coal mine. Shen Tao decides to marry Zhang – a man with a future.

The Assassin*

Asian Arthouse Films: The Assassin (China)

*produced with Taiwan, Hong Kong and France

During the ninth century, a general’s young daughter is kidnapped and trained to become an exceptional assassin. When she doesn’t execute a mission, she is ordered to kill her betrothed, forcing her to choose between love, family and the assassins.

A Touch of Sin

Asian Arthouse Films: A Touch of Sin (China)

Four outcasts on the edges of a rapidly changing China channel their rage into a bloody rampage.

Kazakhstan Arthouse Films

Kazakhstani arthouse films are a relatively new and emerging genre that is gaining recognition for its unique storytelling and artistic expression. The genre emerged in the 2000s, as Kazakhstan began to assert its cultural identity following its independence from the Soviet Union. These films often explore themes of cultural identity, tradition, and the impact of globalization on Kazakhstani society. Kazakhstani arthouse films are known for their distinctive visual style, which incorporates the country’s vast and diverse landscapes, and reflects the country’s nomadic heritage. These films are also characterized by their use of non-linear narratives and a strong emphasis on character development. Despite the challenges posed by the country’s underdeveloped film industry and lack of financial support, Kazakhstani arthouse films have gained international recognition, with several films being showcased at major film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin. This genre is still in its infancy, but it has already produced some notable directors and works that are sure to continue to captivate audiences with their unique artistic vision and commentary on contemporary Kazakhstani society.


Asian Arthouse Films: Ayka (Kazakhstan)

Ayka, a young woman from Kyrgyzstan, has just enough money to make ends meet. When she becomes pregnant, she does not know how to feed the child, and leaves her son immediately after birth and flees.

Lebanon Arthouse Films

Lebanese arthouse films have a long and storied history, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, when the country was a hub for Arab filmmaking. These films often explore issues of war, displacement, and cultural identity, reflecting the country’s complex and often tumultuous history. Lebanese arthouse films are known for their use of naturalistic settings and poetic imagery, as well as their exploration of the human condition in all its complexity. These films often use nonlinear storytelling and other innovative techniques to convey their messages, and they have been praised for their honesty, sensitivity, and emotional depth. Despite the many challenges posed by the country’s political and economic instability, Lebanese arthouse films have continued to flourish, with several films being showcased at major international film festivals such as Cannes and Venice. The genre has produced some internationally renowned directors such as Nadine Labaki and Ziad Doueiri, who have helped to bring Lebanese cinema to the world stage. With its unique perspective and artistic vision, Lebanese arthouse cinema is sure to continue to captivate audiences around the globe.


Asian Arthouse Films: Capernaum (Lebanon)

After running away from his negligent parents, committing a violent crime and being sentenced to five years in jail, a hardened, streetwise 12-year-old Lebanese boy sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him.

Philippines Arthouse Films

Filipino arthouse films have a rich and diverse history, dating back to the 1970s, when filmmakers began to explore new artistic directions and experiment with cinematic form. These films often explore issues of poverty, social inequality, and the struggle for personal and cultural identity, reflecting the country’s complex history and cultural diversity. Filipino arthouse films are known for their bold and unconventional storytelling, as well as their use of poetic imagery and naturalistic settings. These films have often been praised for their emotional depth, social relevance, and innovative approach to filmmaking. Despite the many challenges faced by the Filipino film industry, including limited funding and a lack of distribution channels, Filipino arthouse films have continued to flourish, with several films receiving international recognition at major film festivals such as Cannes and Berlin. The genre has produced some of the most respected and influential filmmakers in Southeast Asia, including Lav Diaz and Brillante Mendoza, who have helped to put Filipino cinema on the world map. With its unique voice and artistic vision, Filipino arthouse cinema is sure to continue to captivate audiences both locally and globally.

Ma’ Rosa

Asian Arthouse Films: Ma’ Rosa (Philippines)

Rosa’s children will do anything to bail their parents out of jail after they are busted by corrupt cops.

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