The list below features documentary films that depict intimate struggles in some of the most unsettling issues our society faces today, from racial inequality, the exploitation of women, rape culture, to environmental issues.
We will be watching and following the impact of these films at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Click here to learn about Films for Change, our new PR offering focused on creating awareness for social change films.
1. 3½ Minutes, Director: Marc Silver, U.S.A. / 93 Min
“While Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown’s stories join a wretched, enduring cycle in the American social narrative, 3½ Minutes portrays Davis’s murder and its aftermath as anything but generic. Instead, the intimate camera particularizes each character as singular, as if to say: The more we see each other as human beings, the less inevitable will be violent outcomes from racial bias and disparate cultures colliding.”
2. Dreamcatcher, Director: Kim Longinotto, UK / 98 Min
“Brenda is on a mission to disrupt the cycle of neglect, violence, and exploitation endured by girls and women in inner-city Chicago. On any given day, she’s performing interventions with at-risk teenagers, female prisoners, and prostitutes on street corners. She uses unconditional love, non-judgmental support, practical help—whatever it takes for them to change their own lives. Using unobtrusive verité camera work that inhabits Brenda’s miraculous perspective, master director Kim Longinotto follows intimate stories along Brenda’s path.”
3. The Hunting Ground, Director: Kirby Dick, U.S.A. / 90 Min
“From the intrepid team behind The Invisible War, comes The Hunting Ground, a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses, poised to light a fire under a national debate. In a tour de force of verité footage, expert insights, and first-person testimonies, the film follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment and the devastating toll on them and their families.”
4. How To Change The World, Director: Jerry Rothwell, UK/Canada / 115 Min
“Before it was the world’s largest activist organization, Greenpeace was the love child of an eclectic group of Vancouver neighbors (journalists, scientists, and hippies). How To Change The World unfolds as a hippie heist movie-turned-high sea adventure but remains an intimate portrait of the group’s original members and of activism itself—idealism vs. pragmatism, principle vs. compromise. They agreed that a handful of people could change the world; they just couldn’t agree how to do it.”
5. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Director: Stanley Nelson, U.S.A. / 113 Min
“Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. An essential history, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is a vibrant, human, living and breathing chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.”
What’s your favorite social change film? Share with us in the comments below.