It is true that for decades Disney studios have produced widely popular films for children. It is also true that Disney films are regularly criticized for portraying cultural, racial, and gender stereotypes that cause many parents to question the problematic messages they give to children. Despite the controversies associated with Disney films, I admit that I have enjoyed the occasional screening of Sleeping Beauty and other Disney classics over the years. However I too care deeply about the messages my children receive from popular movie culture, thus I have worked to build an educational, artistic, and enjoyable repertoire of alternatives to Disney films for us to watch. Below are some of our families' favorites. Do you know of a film that should be on this list but is not? Add it to the contents field below!
This film incorporates the Selkies of Irish legend in an engaging way with absolutely beautiful music and animation that the whole family will enjoy.
It's the Day of the Dead in Mexico and Nando is captured by the Nahuala, an evil ancient spirit. These films teach history and Mexican legends through fun and engaging young characters. Nando also visits other periods of Mexican history and legend in another animated film, La Leyenda de La Llorona.
In French with English subtitles, this is a coming-of-age story of a young girl growing up in Tehran Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This film is based on the graphic novels by Marjan Satrapi and is generally more appropriate for older children/teens.
This film about unusual friendships takes place in Paris in 1910. With beautiful lyrics and music by Sean Lennon (John Lennon's son).
Full disclaimer, Disney actually did buy the rights to Studio Gibli, which produces Hayao Miyazaki's famous Japanese animated films. Although My Neighbor Totoro and other Miyazaki films are technically under large umbrella of Disney now, these are definitely not your average Disney films. Miyazaki's films are wonderfully artistic Japanese animated films that are also entertaining for the whole family.