Movies About Activism – Movies have the ability to uplift people, reveal untold tales, and even alter the course of history. We invited the Global Witness crew to nominate their favorite human rights, environmental, or anti-corruption films in anticipation of the upcoming BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies.
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Movies about Activism
1. How to Change the World (2015)
In this video, a group of friends who eventually founded Greenpeace go out to halt Richard Nixon’s nuclear weapon testing in Alaska. This served as both an inspirational reminder of the need to address climate change and a sobering reminder of our frail human condition. Since my buddy Al Morrow was the producer, I was able to follow the development of the project and learned several fascinating anecdotes about the individuals.
2. A Cambodian Spring (2016)
One of five films nominated for a BAFTA for “excellent directorial debut” is A Cambodian Spring. Filmmaker Chris Kelly worked with a community in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, for several years while they were being evicted from their houses to make room for an upscale retail center. The film so effectively portrays the patterns of nepotism and violations of human rights that Global Witness has been tracking in Cambodia for decades. In this instance, the government grants a politically connected businessman a plot of land; thousands of people are forced to leave their homes; and anyone who voices dissent faces beatings by police and imprisonment.
3. Virunga (2014)
The stunning documentary Virunga masterfully weaves together multiple compelling stories, including the horrific violence that has ravaged the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the British oil company’s attempt to drill in the heart of Africa’s oldest national park, the remarkable young journalist covering the story, and the heartwarming bond between a handler and his gorilla “family.”
Non-governmental organizations that had previously been following the matter, such as Global Witness, were able to exert significant pressure on the oil firm, Soco International, to cease its operations within the park following the filming of the documentary. The business subsequently departed the DRC, leaving the park in peace, after our investigators found further evidence of corruption and violations of human rights.
We soon learned that the park would once more be in danger as the Ugandan government prepared to grant an oil license in the same region. We successfully launched a public campaign to prevent oil firms from bidding for the block, mobilizing our friends in the process. Without the notoriety that the movie received, this would not have been feasible. Although the park is now safe, other protected areas are under risk as a result of oil firms continuously discovering fresh oil sources near the Uganda/DRC border.
4. Movies About Activism: Spotlight (2015)
A tribute to journalism, Spotlight relates the real tale of the Boston Globe reporters who exposed the Catholic church’s systematic concealment of child abuse in the city. In addition to eloquently illustrating the terrible emotional effects of abuse, this moving movie emphasizes the value of investigative journalism and vividly dramatizes the expertise, endurance, and dedication such labor demands.
It is more crucial than ever for investigative journalists to reveal tales of abuse, corruption, and exploitation in a time of strident charges of fake news and attempts to restrict press freedom.