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Improving your Dutch through movies and tv series is not only loads of fun, it’s also an effective and useful way to learn new vocabulary. In addition, they can also allow you to peek into a different culture, and to learn new historical and social aspects of the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. To top it all of you can surely impress your Dutch-speaking friends with all the Dutch movie knowledge you’ve got or even drop a few of these movie titles during a job interview (imagine how surprised they will be).
Now that you are fully motivated to start learning Dutch through movies, let’s dive into our top 12 of must-watch Belgian movies:
1. The Broken Circle Breakdown
Genre: Music – Drama – Romance
Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh
IMDb score: 7.8
If you are fond of emotional rollercoasters, this movie is an absolute must-see. This movie is no ordinary romcom, but a bittersweet love story with fantastic music.
It has won 33 awards and had a lot of Belgians glue to their seats when it was nominated for an Oscar.
The main characters, Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight. She has her own tattoo shop and he plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. They bond over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, and dive into a sweeping romance. But when an unexpected tragedy hits their family, everything they knew and loved is being tested.
Genre: Drama, Crime, Action
Directors: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah
Starring: Sanâa Alaoui, Martha Canga Antonio, Aboubakr Bensaihi
IMDb Score: 7.1
This movie was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, two Moroccan Belgian moviemakers who succeed to display Brussels’ street life in their movie ‘Black’. The directors did much research on Brussels street life, which makes this film so plausible. The movie is pulse-pounding, tragic, yet extremely compelling as scenes of great tenderness alternate with scenes of great violence.
Great for practicing your Dutch, but also your French, the main language of this movie. How could it possibly get more Belgian?
Cool fact: the actors starring in Black were all unexperienced before the filming started. Still, what Black’s viewers experience, resonates long after they have switched off the tv-screen.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Director: Stijn Coninx
Starring: Matteo Simoni, Evelien Bosmans
IMDb score: 7.3
While this movie is partly spoken in Italian, it is great for our Italian talents who miss hearing their language in movies! For our other talents, the movie is worth watching as well, of course! The movie was directed by Stijn Coninx, a well-known director in Belgium, and depicts the life of Belgian singer Rocco Granata. The story takes place within the 1950’s and depicts Rocco’s youth in Italy, and his immigration to Belgium along with his family while his dad took a job as a “guest worker” in the Limburgian coal mines. Soon they discover that life for immigrant workers is hard in Belgium…
Romance, drama, music, sentiments… This movie has everything. Especially the narrative of the family struggle to provide a better a life for their children is very well displayed.
4. Hasta la Vista
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Geoffrey Enthoven
Starring: Gilles De Schrijver, Tom Audenaert, Robrecht Vanden Thoren
IMDb score: 7.4/10
Hasta La Vista isn’t another ordinary road trip movie, nor another plain tragicomedy. The movie tackles delicate subjects and shows three guys in their twenties on a quest to have their first sexual experience. Nothing special, weren’t it that all three main characters are disabled.
Under the guise of a wine tour, Jozef, Philip and Lars embark on a journey to Spain. Jozef is blind, Philip is paralyzed and Lars has a brain tumour, but they won’t let anything stand in their way, not even their parents or their disability…
The movie shows Europe’s landscapes during the road trip, but more importantly, exposes the characters’ emotions convincingly. In short: a heart-warming comedy about three young guys, their struggles and desires.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Erik Van Looy
Starring: Koen De Bauw, Koen De Graeve, Matthias Schoenaerts
IMDb Score: 7.4
Loft is known as the most successful Belgian movie ever made. The blockbuster lured 1.2 million Belgians into the movie theatres. So if you want to bring up a film during a conversation with some Belgians, you’ll probably score with this one. If you do: don’t forget to mention the American version, which was made because of the success of the Belgian one (with the same director and even one of the same actors, Matthias Schoenaert), but was a total disaster.
Luckily, the Flemish version is exactly the kind of rollercoaster ride people want from a whodunnit thriller. Just when you think you have it all figured out, and you are 99% sure you know who was the assassinator, a plot twist comes up and your theories are outweighed.
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Director: Stijn Coninx
Starring: Jan Decleir, Gérard Desarthe, Julien Schoenaerts
IMDb score: 7.6
This historical and fascinating movie gives an overview on Belgian politics in the 19th century, one of conflicts of conscience, class and language. It is Stijn Coninx’ most nominated movie, and it even received an Oscar nomination. The movie portrays the struggle of a courageous priest to spread God’s word to the poor and exploited textile workers.
Even though the subject of this movie is rather complex, the film still holds up and is still enjoyable these days for everyone who is interested in Belgium’s complicated history and politics.
7. Tot Altijd
Director: Nic Balthazar
Starring: Koen De Graeve, Geert Van Rampelbergh
IMDb score: 7.2
This award-winning movie is based on a true story. Even though the subject is rather heavy, Nic Balthazar succeeded in making room for a laugh as well thanks to the witty dialogues. The main-characters are two close friends. One of them becomes a doctor, the other one falls ill. Mario, who suffers from MS (Multiple Sclerosis) campaigns in Belgium to make euthanasia legal in order to end his life in dignity.
The movie touches upon all the dimensions of a human life and makes you reflect about your own. Once seen, this movie cannot be forgotten.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Kadir Balci
Starring: Burat Balci, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Nihat Altinkaya
IMDb score: 6.1
This movie is based on how growing up in Ghent felt for Kadir Balci, the director, and his brother Burat Balci. Trapped between two cultures, they were never sure whether they where Ghentian Turks or Turkish Ghentians. The movie tells the story of a Turkish immigrant who find themselves torn between two lands and cultures with roots in neither of them. When he falls in love with a Flemish girl, his life becomes even more complicated.
The strength of this movie lies in the depiction of real-life situations which has a quiet, but very powerful effect.
9. Aanrijding in Moscou
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Christophe Van Rompaey
Starring: Barbara Sarafian, Johan Heldenbergh
IMDb Score: 7.2
Want to impress your friends by perfectly managing the Ghentian dialect? This movie takes place in Ghent and you will get the chance to hear the juicy East-Flemish dialect. If you pause the movie and repeat what the characters are saying, you’ll become fluent in no time 😉
The movie tells about a 41-year old mother of three with a husband in his midlife-crisis. After an accident when leaving the parking lot of a supermarket, the 29-year-old driver whose truck she hit, takes interest in her. Especially the acting skills of the lead character are remarkable in this film. As for the two lead characters, will they ultimately stay together? Who knows…
10. De Zaak Alzheimer
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Erik Van Looy
Starring: Koen De Bouw, Werner De Smedt, Jan Decleir
IMDb score: 7.4
Another movie of Erik Van Looy, but again one that deserves to be in this list. Literally every movie fan in Belgium will know this one. Adding to that, the plot is very well-written and the acting performances are outstanding, so what are you waiting for?
Although the production budgets were rather low, the thriller is said to be the best Belgian cop-movie ever made. Get ready to be entertained!
11. Tabula Rasa
Directors: Veerle Baetens, Malin-Sarah Gozin
Starring: Veerle Baetens, Stijn Van Opstal
IMDb score: 8.2
Okay, for this one we cheated, Tabula Rasa is not a movie, but a series, but we couldn’t let you miss out on this excellent psychological thriller (and yes, it’s available on Netflix!). It’s a show that will keep you guessing with many twists, layers and hidden connections in which the imagery is stunning. The story is about a woman who suffers from memory-loss who gets involved in a disappearance case.
Try and give this series three episodes, and we bet you will be hooked!
Oh and by the way, this is the only show in the list which can be found on Netflix.
12. FC De Kampioenen
Directors: Eric Wirix
Starring: Ann Tuts, An Swartenbroekx, Ben Rottiers, Marijn De Valck…
IMDb Score: 5.2
For a lot of Flemish people, De Kampioenen are an absolute childhood memory, but even now they remain very popular. Admittedly, it is not the most high-standard, but there are some pretty good reasons why you should watch this movie based on the long-running tv show. FC De Kampioenen is a typical Flemish sitcom and has been on the screen since 1990. Literally every Fleming will know the movie and its stereotype main characters, and your kids will enjoy watching, too!
F.C. De Kampioenen is about a couple of amateur soccer players who never win a match because of their poor skills on the field. Every character is a stereotypical one. You have the dominant wive (Carmen), the ladies’ man (Boma), the clumsy one (Marc) etc. During the moving, they travel to France and some misunderstanding occurs that the characters must solve.
These 12 are of course only a small selection of the many Belgian movies that are out there. You can use them as a perfect basis to start exploring the wonderful world of Belgian cinema.
Good luck and enjoy the movie!
The Dutch language also has a lot of silly words. This post will tell you all about them: 15 Dutch words that will put a smile upon your face
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Make sure to also check out these 7 Flemish expressions that are almost untranslatable!