Third Culture Kids, or TCKs, have the unique ability to connect with people all around the world from all different cultures. At a young age, TCKs are thrown into a culture that their expat parents don’t identify with and are tasked to make this ‘foreign’ culture their own. It quickly becomes their own- the food, the art, the community are all their own. More often than not TCKs are plucked from this culture and transplanted into another ‘foreign’ culture.
However, TCKs have formed their own tribe, creating works to fit the needs of other TCKs around the globe. The following is a list of documentaries and short films that will lead you into a community that is all about connecting across cultures, across races, nationalities, religions, and identities.
This groundbreaking documentary explores the “global subculture” of a childhood spent on a US military base in a foreign country. Musil explores the military brat phenomenon through military family footage and photos from post-war Germany, Vietnam and Japan and interviews military brat expert Mary Edwards Wertsch to tell the stories of millions of Americans who don’t necessarily identify as just Americans.
“Their passports say “United States,” but they’re really citizens of the world,” Brats without Borders wrote on their webpage about the film.
BRATS: Our Journey Home, will take the viewer on a whirlwind of experiences, exploring the ups and downs that is the life of a military brat and TCK. However familiar or unfamiliar life on a military base is to you, this film exemplifies the splendors and challenges that children experience as TCKs and what that means for their adult identity.
Inside Out, a film by Pixar
Don’t be fooled by the silly characters and imaginative animation in this ‘children’s film.’ it will take you on a roller coaster of emotions. In fact, this film communicates exactly what it’s like to be a in the midst of your formative years when your life gets completely turned upside down.
Understanding emotions are the first step in understanding the life of a TCK. The sadness upon not fitting in, the joy of trying new things, and the confusion of change are all emotions commonly experienced by TCKs which are illustrated beautifully in this film.
This documentary is an astonishing reveal of the group of black, German born children living during the occupation of American soldiers during World War II. This film compiles interviews of “brown babies” as well as expert opinions on the implications on the psyche of the children affected.
Bi-cultural as well as bi-racial, these children faced ridicule and disgust at their brown skin but German nationality. Brown babies and TCKs alike experience the struggle of not belonging to either culture and the search for a true identity- both of these themes are explored in the film.
The Road Home, a film by Zhang Yimou
This Chinese film with English subtitles paints a picture of daily life in a rural Chinese village. The film explores the importance of culture and family tradition even within the lives of those long removed from the community.
Yimou demonstrates how many cultures can exist within one single country while the struggles of balancing tradition and modern living remain a constant battle.
Pixar has a way of showing complex emotions in the form of animation to build a fascinating work that many can relate to. This film explains how one boy balances western mainstream media with traditional Hindu values to create a culture all his own.
Balancing is common in the world of a TCK or a multicultural person; in straddling two cultures, Sanjay figures out a way to fit both cultures into his life to develop his unique identity.