10 films about the importance of a father in a child’s life

Various films about fatherhood and the importance of fathers throughout the lives of their children have been recommended by the media education and research centre Meno Avilys, in contribution to the social campaign “Being a Father is the Greatest Gift” launched by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

1. Cat Days (Director Jon Frickey, 2018)

A colourful surreal animated story about a father and his son Jiro, who receives an unexpected diagnosis – Jiro is not a boy at all, he is a cat. This short animated film touches the topics of identity and fatherhood with a certain ease, acceptance, sincere concern and humour. In addition to winning a number of awards around the world, Cat Days was also selected as the best short animated film in its category during the BLON Animation and Video Games Festival 2020 held in Lithuania.

2. I am Sam (Director Jessie Nelson, 2001)

A comedy-drama about patience, love and the ability to listen. A mentally handicapped man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter and in the process teaches those around him the value of love and family. The film is based on actual cases experienced by parents with disabilities. Actor Sean Penn was nominated for an Oscar for his lead role.

3. “Bicycle Thief” (rež. Vittorio de Sica, 1948)

A neorealistic drama about poverty-stricken post-war Italy. A working-class man’s bicycle is stolen. Engulfed with despair, he and his son set out to find it. This classic is continuously being listed among the best and most influential films of all time.

4. “My Neighbour Totoro” (rež. Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) 

An animated film created by Japanese animation master H. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, telling the story of two girls, the daughters of a professor, and their adventures with friendly forest spirits in a Japanese village. A colourful story about empathy, creativity, openness and love for the environment. Being a father means not only taking proper care of your children, but also giving them enough freedom.

5. “Breakfast with Scott” (rež. Laurie Lynd, 2007)

A touching comedy about a gay couple – a former hockey player and a lawyer who have to take care of an orphaned 11-year-old boy named Scot. The lives of two men are turned upside down when they suddenly have to deal with fatherhood and Scot’s hobbies. The film tells a witty story about gender stereotypes, self-love, and love for others. It should be noted that Toronto Maple Leafs became the first professional sports club to officially allow the use of its symbol in LGBT films.


6. “Beautiful Boy” (rež. Felix van Groeningen, 2018)

The film is based on the biographical memoirs of New York Times journalist David Sheff and his son Nic. It tells a heart-breaking story of a bond between a father and his son, and experiences of a family that has been dealing with drug addiction for many years. The film’s captions reveal that Nic has been sober for eight years now, which would not have been possible without the support and love of his family and friends.

7. “35 Shots of Rum” (rež. Claire Denis, 2008)

The film, presented at the Venice Film Festival, tells the story of a long-cherished relationship between a father and his daughter. They have always had a special connection while living a safe and isolated life in the suburbs of Paris. The father eventually understands that his daughter has grown up and will have to leave him soon. At her wedding, he downs 35 shots of rum. It is not clear whether he does so in joy or in sadness…

8. “Seahorse (the dad who gave birth)” (rež. Jeanie Finlay, 2019)

30 year old Freddy is a transgender gay man eager to start a family. He decides to carry his child himself which requires a lot of strength and overcoming various challenges such as a body-changing pregnancy and stereotypes about gender and family.  It is a documentary about a father who gave birth.

9. “Toni Erdmann” (rež. Maren Ade, 2016)

“You can really learn a lot from your parents,” says the main character who is trying to reconnect with his career-oriented daughter in various unexpected and shocking ways. At first, she is angry and accuses her father of ruining her life, but eventually begins to see the reasons and value behind her father’s behaviour. M. Ade became the first female director to receive the European Film Award for Best Film (she also won in the categories of Best Director, Screenwriter, and Best Actor).

10. “Dick Johnson Is Dead” (rež. Kirsten Johnson, 2020)

The director suggested to her psychiatrist father to make a film about how he dies. And he agreed. The maker of the documentary is staging various ingenious and fantastic ways for her 86-year-old father to die, hoping that the film will help slow down time, bring laughter in spite of the pain, and keep her father alive forever. This film is a daughter’s love letter to her father and a creative example of how cinema gives us the tools to accept difficult life experiences while intertwining facts and fiction.

This article is part of the project “Everybody’s Talking: Work-Life Balance Goes Mainstream”, partially funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The content of it is the sole responsibility of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.