Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

How Foreign Policy Shapes Film Industries Worldwide

From Hollywood to Western Sahara.

A person walks past a grid of mostly domestic movie posters in Seoul in 2006.
A person walks past a grid of mostly domestic movie posters in Seoul in 2006.
A person walks past movie posters at a theater in downtown Seoul on Jan. 26, 2006, the year the country announced a reduction in its screen quota for domestically produced films. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

Happy New Year! As we at FP enjoyed lots of movies over the holidays, we couldn’t help but think about how they connect to foreign policy—and what a country’s film industry reveals about its politics.

So, in this edition of Flash Points, we’re digging into our archives on the intersection of geopolitics and film industries worldwide, from the deserts of Western Sahara to Seoul’s IMAX theaters.—Chloe Hadavas

The World’s Most Remote Film Festival

Deep in the Algerian desert, a Sahrawi-run event puts Western Sahara’s struggle for liberation on the big screen, Ariel Sophia Bardi writes.

Happy New Year! As we at FP enjoyed lots of movies over the holidays, we couldn’t help but think about how they connect to foreign policy—and what a country’s film industry reveals about its politics.

So, in this edition of Flash Points, we’re digging into our archives on the intersection of geopolitics and film industries worldwide, from the deserts of Western Sahara to Seoul’s IMAX theaters.—Chloe Hadavas


Young Saharawi women stop to pose for a selfie at the FiSahara festival in Auserd camp in the Western Sahara.
Young Saharawi women stop to pose for a selfie at the FiSahara festival in Auserd camp in the Western Sahara.

Young Sahrawi women stop to pose for a selfie at the FiSahara festival in Auserd camp on Oct. 15.Ariel Sophia Bardi for Foreign Policy

The World’s Most Remote Film Festival

Deep in the Algerian desert, a Sahrawi-run event puts Western Sahara’s struggle for liberation on the big screen, Ariel Sophia Bardi writes.


A scene from "Abominable" taken in a theater and shared by Vietnamese media.
A scene from "Abominable" taken in a theater and shared by Vietnamese media.

A scene from “Abominable” taken in a theater and shared by Vietnamese media. Twitter/DreamWorks

Hollywood Is Paying an ‘Abominable’ Price for China Access

A kid’s movie has turned into a geopolitical nightmare for DreamWorks, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes.


Masked armed guards keep watch over contestants during one of the show's deadly playground games.
Masked armed guards keep watch over contestants during one of the show's deadly playground games.

Masked armed guards keep watch over contestants in Squid Game.Netflix

South Korea’s Film Rules Need a Reboot

The success of productions such as Squid Game and Parasite proves the industry can hold its own without excessive protectionism, Seoho Lee writes.


Hollywood star Paul Newman on the set of Exodus in Israel
Hollywood star Paul Newman on the set of Exodus in Israel

Actor Paul Newman on the set of Exodus, based on the novel by Leon Uris and directed by Otto Preminger, in Israel in 1960. United Artists/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Has Hollywood Fallen Out of Love With Israel?

A recent book examines the origins and end of an affair between the film industry and the Jewish state, Saul Austerlitz writes.


Main character Yusuke Kafuku leans against his red car as supporting character Misaki Watari sits behind the wheel.
Main character Yusuke Kafuku leans against his red car as supporting character Misaki Watari sits behind the wheel.

A scene from the 2021 Japanese film Drive My Car. Janus Films

‘Drive My Car’ Could Change Japanese Cinema Forever

The country’s film industry has struggled through ups and downs since the Golden Age of Japanese cinema in the 1950s and 1960s, Eric Margolis writes.

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