Inspiring Films About Social Change
Movies and documentaries to get you inspired:
The world is full of remarkable individuals and organizations, dedicated to making a difference within their communities. If you have community-building aspirations of your own, it’s important to become familiar with the kind of work that is happening in the world today. That includes reading newspapers and journals, as well as doing research on the organizations that interest you the most.
However, film can also serve as a great medium for a social message. Though many movies are “inspired” by true stories and not 100% fact, they are nonetheless a fun and accessible way to discover the world of volunteering, community work, and social justice with your own eyes.
To inspire your own community efforts, here are some movies and documentaries on the topic of social change.
Gandhi (1982, directed by Richard Attenborough)
Gandhi follows the story of the famed lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (now referred to as Mahatma Gandhi worldwide). The film focuses on Gandhi’s incredible work through the nonviolent revolution against British colonials in India. The movie also places a particular focus on the revolution itself as opposed to providing in-depth background of Gandhi’s earlier life.
12 Angry Men (1957, directed by Sidney Lumet)
A classic film about crime, punishment, and the true meaning of justice, 12 Angry Men features a jury in the deliberation room, deciding on the verdict of a criminal trial. The film explores themes of bias and prejudice interfering with the true administration of justice—racism and classism, as mentioned in the film, are just two examples of biases that continue to affect the justice system today.
Milk (2008, directed by Gus Van Sant)
Milk is a biographical film about real-life politician Harvey Milk, an American gay rights activist who eventually became California’s first openly gay official to be elected into office. The movie follows Harvey Milk’s struggle both as a politician and as a representative for gay rights, and the amazing things he accomplished even when faced with the homophobia prevalent throughout the United States in the 1980s.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006, directed by Davis Guggenheim)
Arguably considered one of the most important environmental films ever made, this documentary outlines former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to make the terrifying research about climate change widespread knowledge. The movie urges viewers to stop believing those who dismiss environmental claims as “myths”, and instead, to make efforts to salvage what remains of our planet before it’s too late.
It is important to emphasize that though many of these films are not recent, they highlight issues that continue to be relevant today. The problems that these movies explore are far from being resolved, and it will take all of our efforts to ensure that progress is still made far into the future. Watch, and get inspired.