Films on Freedom


The War on Our Civil Liberties

Documentary 2004 NR 66 minutes. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress passed a series of legislations known as The Patriot Act, which is designed to assist law enforcement in preventing future terrorist attacks. Take an inside look at this controversial bill through the eyes of legal analysts and constitutional experts as they examine the possible dangers The Patriot Act poses to our civil liberties and individual freedoms. See Full Review

War Made Easy

Documentary 2007 NR 73 minutes. Based on Norman Solomon’s revealing book and narrated by actor Sean Penn, this documentary exposes the government’s and the media’s purported history of deceiving the American people and leading the nation into war after war. Using archival footage of past presidents and media correspondents — including the revered Walter Cronkite — the film sheds light on propaganda and draws parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars. See Full Review

The End of America

Lecture 2008 NR 74 minutes. Based on Naomi Wolf’s sobering best-seller, this documentary examines post-9/11 American freedom. Filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern present evidence that our society’s liberty has been systematically eroded under the Bush administration. Their examples parallel the loss of liberty experienced in other countries as their governments tumbled into fascism, and draw chilling connections between what’s already happened and what is yet to come. HOWEVER, the film starts out by claiming that fear makes normal people behave in ways that are contrary to their nature. The film then proceeds to frighten you as much as possible. This alone Is enough to undermine Ms. Wolf as a legitimate standard bearer for this message. Add to that the pathetic (sometimes desperate) attempts to parallel the Bush administration to the Nazis, and you have a film that works against its own goal. The title of the film is an obvious exaggeration.

The ACLU Freedom Files

Documentary 2006 NR 2 discs. This 10-part documentary series produced by the American Civil Liberties Union and filmmaker Robert Greenwald shares inspiring stories about Americans whose civil liberties have been compromised. More importantly, the programs chronicle how the people fought back. Combining comedy, drama, music, animation and interviews, Emmy-winning director Jeremy Kagan covers everything from racial profiling to the Patriot Act to religious freedom. Freedom of speech is a given in America, right? Not if you’re Muslim hip-hop poet Amir Sulaiman, or groups of protesters at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2004.

Noam Chomsky: Imperial Grand Strategy
The Assault on Freedom and Democracy (Lecture #2)

Lecture 2006 NR 120 minutes. In two lectures and a 45-minute interview, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky — credited as the father of modern linguistics — delivers an unabashed criticism of the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, framing the president’s invasion of Iraq as part of an “imperial grand strategy.” Filmed in 2003, this collection of Chomsky’s personal views also provides an effective overview of the global political climate.

Fahrenheit 9/11

Documentary 2004 R 122 minutes. Michael Moore’s hard-hitting documentary addresses the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, outlining the reasons the United States (and, in turn, thousands of innocent Americans) became a target for hatred and terrorism. The film not only criticizes President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks but also reinforces Moore’s theory that the Bush Administration used the tragic event to push its own political agenda.See Full Review

The War on Kids

Documentary 2009 NR 1hr 35m. Filmmaker Cevin D. Soling offers this provocative documentary that examines the appalling condition of America’s public schools, which often resemble high-security prisons more than places of learning.

The Loving Story
(Long Way Home: The Loving Story)

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 17M. This documentary profiles Mildred and Richard Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for breaking Virginia’s laws against interracial marriage. This couple fought for what they believed in and as a result a change spread across the nation. Her spirit was so intelligent and motherly and calm. His demeanor was so tough and honest and protective. This story is simply beautiful. A captivating look at the lives of the couple who reluctantly and inadvertently caused the eventual setting aside of the blatant racist laws in 16 states against interracial marriage. The last miscegenation laws was repealed in 2000 in Alabama. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Loving. I would have been proud to be their neighbor, proud have known them. This is a real love story, one man and one woman set the example for the rest to follow. I guess they’re true American heroes we never got to hear about. Amazing story. I do not think I have ever seen a better documentary, one that has better caught and held my interest.  See Full Review

Home of the Brave

Documentary 2004 NR 1hr 14m. This documentary chronicles the murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, who was killed for participating in a march for black voting rights.  Viola’s death helped pass the Voting Rights act of 1965. This is fascinating documentary about a forgotten woman in the civil rights movement, an amazing story that somehow got lost in time. Among the stories of Dr. King, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, this story should be told. It reveals how intimately the FBI was involved in her murder, the coverup which followed it, and what happened to Ms. Liuzzo’s reputation at the hands of the FBI in the aftermath of her killing. Moving, inspiring, distressing, this movie unseats any vestige of trust in our government’s respect for human life and rights. Well-done documentary about people who were at ground zero of the civil rights movement. Bravo to all concerned that her heroism has seen the light of day! I believe this is something that can and should be shown to schoolchildren, a memorial to a woman who gave her life for what she believed in, and who should not be forgotten.

Children of Internment

Documentary 2014 86 min. Thousands of German families were interned by the United States during World War 2. (It is a common misperception that only Japanese-Americans were interned during WW2.) This wartime internment of German-Americans remains generally unknown to most Americans — and largely overlooked by historians. Nearly 11,000 German “aliens” were interned and tens of thousands more suffered illegal searches and seizures, relocation, harassment, interrogation, family separation, deportation and repatriation to Germany. All immigrants to the USA are labelled “aliens” until they learn English and pass tests to become US “citizens”. Many immigrants after the end of World War One took the steps to become US “citizens”, but many others remained technically classified as “aliens”, perhaps too busy trying to earn a living to learn English and pass the citizenship tests. So this group of new Americans were technically still citizens of Germany, and these “aliens” unprotected by the US Constitution could be interned for no good reason.  See Full Review


Commanding Heights:
The Battle for the World Economy

Documentary 2002 NR 360 minutes. Based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, this three-part PBS documentary series is the story of how the new global economy was born. It traces the rise of free markets during the last century, as well as the process of globalization. There are three segments – 1. “The Battle of Ideas” (primarily between Capitalism and Communism);  2. “The Agony of Reform” (after the end of Communism)  3. “The New Rules of the Game” (of Globalization). See Full Review

A Whisper to a Roar

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 34m. This rousing documentary examines how protesters dedicated to democracy and nonviolence have changed the political landscapes in five countries. Telling the stories of the people behind the fight for democracy in Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, “Roar” introduces us to real life heroes who have risked and continue to risk their lives to overcome powerful regimes and pave the way for democracy to take hold in their homeland. An interesting mix of countries, representing, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, we learn more about highly publicized stories like Egypt’s and Venezuela’s and about some not-so-well-known like Malaysia’s and Zimbabwe’s. The audience will walk away feeling empowered and bound to others through their actions, a great reminder that we shape the world we live in.

Revolution in Cairo

Documentary Frontline 2011 NR 53 m. Frontline dispatches teams to Cairo, going inside the youth movement that helped light the fire on the streets. Follow the “April 6th” group, which two years ago began making a bold use of the Internet for their underground resistance, tactics that led to jail and torture for many of their leaders. Now, starting with the “Day of Rage,” we witness those same leaders plot strategy to try to bring down President Mubarak. Link to View This FRONTLINE Story for Free (Listed by Date        2011 Feb 22):

The Square

Documentary 2013. Nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this critically praised documentary chronicles the history-making revolution in Egypt that captivated the world with scenes of courage and freedom in the face of violent opposition.

High Tech, Low Life

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 25m. Meet Tiger and Zola, two “citizen reporters” who travel throughout China, facing censorship and even imprisonment in their pursuit of the truth.  Citizen journalism and Civil Disobedience at their best. The courage of these people is amazing, and their passion is inspiring. After I watched this, I tried to search for recent blogs by Tiger but couldn’t find anything. This film gives you the feeling and the flavor of Beijing. The real stuff. The way real people live and work and how they are naturally. The countryside scenes and the travel scenes nail it! I lived in China four years 2006 to 2010 teaching English, and this show brought back many memories. This doc shows the importance of the flow of information, and how each and every one of us can make a difference in our communities. I remember Facebook being blocked and on some occasions Yahoo and Google as well. Censorship in China is little known by most around the world, and I was fascinated. This doc does a good job at showing the censorship going on over there. Although it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. In four years I saw so much change it felt like I was inside a time-machine watching new developments pop up overnight — a lot of the same stuff going on here in the States. I recommend this film for anybody who has never been to China. I must say, this film opened my eyes to life in China. We should never take our freedom for granted. I really enjoyed this movie. And great job by all involved in this film! Great watch!

Taking Liberties

Documentary 2007 The film follows the erosion of civil liberties since Tony Blair came to power. After high-profile incidents such as 9/11 and 7/7 the public has often called for action. Various powers and prohibitions have been smuggled through under the guise of anti-terror legislation, or to reduce public order offences, but what starts out at emergency legislation often remains for years and gives the police and the state massive power to interfere with and curtail our civil liberties.

Taxi to the Dark Side

Documentary 2007 R 106 minutes. Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) directs this Best Documentary Oscar winner that uses interviews, news footage and firsthand reports to examine the Bush administration’s policy on torture. The film focuses on the case of an Afghan taxi driver who picked up three passengers and never returned home. Instead, he wound up dead at the Bagram Air Base, killed by injuries inflicted by U.S. soldiers.

The Lives of Others

Drama 2006 R 138 minutes. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the East German secret police (Stasi) employed a network of 100,000 staff and 200,000 informants to spy on its own citizens. In 1984, secret police agent Wiesler is assigned to eavesdrop on a successful but possibly disloyal playwright in East Germany. As the lonely Wiesler learns more about the man and his lover, a prominent actress, he becomes fascinated by their lives. The film brings to light the loneliness and isolation that the people of East Germany felt while living in a society where nearly everyone was watching or being watched by others.

The Wall
A World Divided

Documentary 2010 NR 55 minutes. With insights from political leaders like George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Condoleezza Rice, explore the origins and demise of the notorious Berlin Wall, the structure’s affect on ordinary German lives and the peaceful end to the Cold War. Full of detailed information, this historical PBS documentary explains the stark differences between East and West Germany and their process of reunification.

After the Wall
A World United

Documentary 2011 NR 55 minutes. After serving as a geographic and ideological divide for 40 years, the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, bringing the reunification of Germany and an end to the Cold War. This documentary revisits the events surrounding the wall’s historic collapse. Interviews with major players such as George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl offer insight into political maneuverings while firsthand accounts from Germans provide personal perspectives.

The Tunnel

Docudrama Thriller 2001 NR 167 minutes. In this acclaimed drama inspired by true events, Olympic swimmer Harry Melchior (Heino Ferch) defects from East Germany in the 1960s and hatches a daring plot to help his sister (Alexandra Maria Lara) and others flee East Berlin through a 145-yard underground tunnel. With the help of an engineer (Sebastian Koch), Melchior leads the risky plan, under constant threat of being discovered by the authorities.

Berlin Tunnel 21

Docudrama Thriller 1981 NR 2hr 21m. Following the rise of the Berlin Wall, determined American soldier Sandy (Richard Thomas) and pessimistic engineer Emerich (Horst Buchholz) put their lives on the line in order to build a secret underground tunnel and spring their loved ones out of East Berlin. Full of nonstop tension, this gripping made-for-TV drama based on a true story finds the duo facing unexpected traitors, devastating setbacks and the constant threat of being discovered.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Documentary  2012 R 1hr 31m. This compelling documentary explores three years in the life of celebrated Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, who uses social media and his art to inspire protests against the state, and suffers government persecution for his actions.


Sci-Fi 1984 R 110 minutes. This movie adaptation of George Orwell’s eerie, dystopian tale — filmed during the year for which it’s named — follows the “reeducation” of two people who break the law in a totalitarian state by falling in love while Big Brother is watching.


Docudrama 2009 NR 1hr 47m.  Based on the real-life experiences of a Gypsy family living in Nazi-occupied France, this poignant drama explores the broader definition of freedom through the eyes of characters who see permanency as punishment.See Full Review

A Royal Affair
(En Kongelig Affære)

Romance docudrama 2012 R 2hr17m.  In 18th-century Denmark, the unstable King Christian VII neglects his young queen, Mathilde, who falls in love with his German physician.  This film is based on a true story.  In 1769 a German outsider, Johann Struensee, arrived in Copenhagen as the physician and companion to the deranged Danish king Christian VII.  He became the lover of the queen, the youngest sister of England’s king George III’s, Caroline Mathilde.  With her agreement, and the acquiescence of the king, Struensee took over the running of the state and attempted to transform Denmark into a model of enlightened absolutism, following the ideas of Voltaire and the French Enlightenment.  By the end of that year Struensee made great political strides in a country that until then had the most complete absolute monarchy left in Europe.  In his reforming zeal and democratic libertarianism Struensee represents the Denmark that was to come.  These events preceded by a few years the Revolutions in America and France.  See Full Review


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