Can't wait to hear the magic words, "can I see your passport please?"?
Let this list of travel-inspired screen hits transport you around the globe while we wait patiently for our boarding passes out of isolation. There's romance, gaming, abandoned haunts, home movies, and more. Don your beloved trackies, grab your neck pillow, and set off on an adventure without leaving the couch.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is the perfect film to help us embrace both the challenges and silver linings of a shared sense of isolation. Live vicariously through Bob and Charlotte in this Sofia Coppola classic as they form an unlikely soul connection while in a foreign land. Make like these characters and have a meaningful conversation with a friend this evening while dreaming of the lights of a Tokyo city night.
Dark Tourist (2018)
Looking for something a little bit weird? NZ journalist David Farrier takes us to places of dark tourism; see Fukushima after its nuclear disaster, atomic swimming holes, serial killer themed tours, and New Orleans vampires. You'd probably never risk visiting these places yourself, so what better time to journey alongside the brave (and questionably keen) Farrier as he delves into these odd but fascinating corners of the globe.
Ted Parsons' home movies
Yearning for that fresh Victorian air? The smell of gums on a Norwest breeze? These home movies from the ACMI Collection can help. Ted Parsons' films feature life in and around the regional city of Wangaratta. In the clip above the Parsons travel through Mount Hotham and Myrtleford, down to Melbourne and then back through Bairnsdale and Paynesville on the south coast. Until we can pull on our hiking boots and get out amongst it, let these home movies transport you to our beautiful countryside from the comfort of your couch.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Calling all isolated lonely hearts – grab your favourite blanket, cosy up, and fall into this epic travel romance. Jesse and Celine meet on a train in Europe, falling for each other over the course of a single night before Jesse flies home to America. While exploring Vienna together, the young travellers form a connection through vulnerable, philosophical conversations about love and life. Be inspired by these lovebirds and their foreign romance as you get ready for your next zoom date.
This Place: Artist Series (2020)
Take a virtual walk on country with some of Australia's greatest Indigenous artists. In this series, six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists share their connection to country, how it inspires their art and identity, and take us to the places across Australia where their artmaking begins. The production was led by what worked for the artists: whether they wanted to talk in language, include and involve their families and which places they wanted to visit. You're in for an intimate and personal journey.
Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)
Self-reflection is an almost inescapable part of life in isolation – if only we could undertake an analysis of our psyches while in the beautiful Swiss Alps. For the moody, quietly angsty armchair traveller, Clouds of Sils Maria is a meditation on mirrors, past selves, and simmering queer desire. Watch Binoche and Stewart recite theatre to each other against a backdrop of stunning scenery as existentialism writhes beneath the surface.
Travel Man (2015–19)
Wish you could fly to Milan right now? How about Iceland? While we eagerly await the day we can safely fly to foreign lands again, let Richard Ayoade take you around the world, with each episode covering a snappy 48 hours in a new location with a notable guest. Ayoade’s dry wit and dark sarcasm make this a funny and genuinely interesting watch.
Phantom Ride (2016)
Embrace the fluidity of time and space while in isolation (what day is it?) with ACMI-commissioned artist Daniel Crooks’ dreamy video work Phantom Ride. By manipulating digital footage as though it were a physical material, Crooks creates a collaged landscape that takes us through multiple worlds and shifts our perception of space and time. Nothing compares to the mesmerising in-gallery experience but you can still get absorbed in the sense of movement with a browse through Crooks' vimeo account.
Recommended for the adventurous, searching soul, Tracks follow the true story of Robyn Davidson's 2,700 kilometre solo hike across the Australian desert, aided only by her dog and four camels. Sit back and learn about the beautiful country we live in from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. While we dream of the ruck sacks and hostel dorm rooms undoubtedly in our future, let this film provide some travel inspiration for your next reflective journey.
Heat and Dust (1983)
A great yarn to dive into during isolation, Heat and Dust will have you enthralled from start to finish. Cross-cutting between the 1920s and early 1980s, James Ivory’s sprawling epic moves effortlessly between modern-day India and the splendours of the Raj. Journey alongside Anne as she retraces her Aunt Olivia's earlier voyage. There's drama, romance, and scandal - this Merchant Ivory classic is sure to hit the spot with the aid of a good cuppa.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Directed by Oscar winner Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the perfect film for those of us craving lush New Zealand landscapes. There’s heart, humour, and Sam Neill – what more could you ask for? Gather the whānau, bring out the chips and onion dip, and settle in for this majestical back country adventure.
The Nightingale (2013)
Perfect for the entire isolated family; cosy up and explore stunning Chinese countryside in this story of old meeting new. The Nightingale tells the story of a tech-loving 10-year-old girl who discovers another way of life as she travels through the countryside with her elderly grandfather. Sure to warm your heart and perhaps bring a few tears, this is a timely story about the value of inter-generational lessons, sparked by the act of shared journeys.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) (2014)
Want to travel somewhere a little harder to reach? While learning generously imparted stories and lessons along the way? Try Never Alone, a puzzle platformer game about a young Iñupiat girl and her arctic fox companion as they try to solve the case of an eternal blizzard threatening their community. Winner of several awards, this is one travel game adventure you don’t want to miss. Play solo or gather your home team and delve into the traditional lore of the Iñupiat peoples of Alaska. Read more about First Nations stories in gaming.
Portrait of a Place (2014–20)
If you’re craving connection and adventure, let this NOWNESS series impart both as you travel from Manhattan to Mongolia to Norway. Dip into the world of metal workers, skaters, firework festivals, and then ruminate on the question: 'what is love?' in these deeply human stories from communities around the world. As much a portrait of the people who anchor their narratives as the places they are set, the films in this series will have you learning about and connecting with our global community.
Ever driven past an abandoned building and wanted to peek inside? Now's your chance. In this series, Rick McCrank takes viewers to abandoned locations across America and Canada, whittling stories out of ghost hunters, locals, and the places left behind. Travel to abandoned malls, nuclear power plants, water parks, and of course the iconic route 66. Pro-skater McCrank finds a new spot to shred at each location, carving lines in places others might think a lost cause. Abandoned asks us to reflect, learn, and make something new out of things and places left to decay.
Looking for more to watch? Let us guide you through this period of solitude with home-viewing options for every lockdown mood in our Isolation Guides.