Films on Human Rights

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MAKERS: Women Who Make America

Documentary 2013. Documentary that tells the story of how women have shaped the United States over the last 50 years through political and personal empowerment. This tells the remarkable story of the most sweeping social revolution in American history, as women have asserted their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity, and personal autonomy. It’s a revolution that has unfolded in public and private, in courts and Congress, in the boardroom and the bedroom, changing not only what the world expects from women, but what women expect from themselves. MAKERS brings this story to life with priceless archival treasures and poignant, often funny interviews with those who led the fight, those who opposed it, and those first generations to benefit from its success. Trailblazing women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey share their memories, as do countless women who challenged the status quo in industries from coal-mining to medicine. Makers captures with music, humor, and the voices of the women who lived through these turbulent times the dizzying joy, aching frustration and ultimate triumph of a movement that turned America upside-down. See Full Review


Flow: For Love of Water

Documentary 2008 NR 84 minutes. From both local and global perspectives, this documentary examines the harsh realities behind the mounting water crisis. Learn how politics, pollution and human rights are intertwined in this important issue that affects every being on Earth. With water drying up around the world and the future of human lives at stake, the film urges a call to arms before more of our most precious natural resource is controlled by multinational corporations. A petition to add a 31st article to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would establish access to clean water as a fundamental human right.

Bolivia: Leasing the Rain

Documentary Frontline World 2002. In Bolivia, water warriors ousted Bechtel Corporation and took back control of the water system, vowing to run it as a human right, not as a commodity. A private consortium, dominated by the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, had taken over Cochabamba’s water system in 2000 and raised water rates. Protestors blamed Bechtel for trying to “lease the rain.” A popular protest there turned into a deadly riot. The army battled civilians in the streets on and off for three months, hundreds were arrested, a seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed, the government of Bolivia nearly collapsed.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Documentary 2009 NR 89 minutes. This award-winning documentary posits that we’re moving closer to a world in which water — a seemingly plentiful natural resource — could actually incite war. As water becomes an increasingly precious commodity, corrupt governments, corporations and even private investors are scrambling to control it which leaves everyday citizens fighting for a substance they need to survive.


Obama’s Deal

Documentary Frontline 2010. Witness how American politics operates in the Obama era with this revealing documentary, which grants viewers incredible access to private meetings from the White House to Capitol Hill throughout the lengthy and arduous health care reform debate. Through interviews with key officials, senators and lobbyists, this program exposes how quiet negotiations and special interest groups drastically reshaped the landmark health care legislation. 2010 NR 54 minutes.

Sick Around the World

Documentary Frontline 2008 NR 60 minutes. With the U.S. health care system needing urgent care, “Frontline” looks to other leading capitalist democracies to see how their health care systems operate and whether those systems might be a model for much-needed reform at home. But are Americans willing to accept taxation or socialized medicine? Will U.S. insurance providers undermine change? Correspondent T.R. Reid examines systems in the U.K., Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan. Four in five Americans say the U.S. health-care system needs “fundamental” change. Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health-care system, or are these nations so culturally different from us that their solutions would simply not be acceptable to Americans? Frontline correspondent T.R. Reid examines first-hand the health-care systems of other advanced capitalist democracies — UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan — to see what tried and tested ideas might help us reform our broken health-care system

Sick Around America

Documentary Frontline 2009 NR 60 minutes. Few Americans in the early years of the 21st century would argue that the country’s healthcare system is healthy; however, fewer still would be likely to agree about how to fix it. This “Frontline” special attempts to find some answers. Traveling around the country, going inside insurance companies and taking a hard look at one state’s failed efforts at healthcare reform, the program tackles one of the toughest issues of modern times.

Critical Condition

Documentary 2008 NR 83 minutes. Delving deep into the sickening statistics of the American health care crisis, this documentary examines the financial and human cost of a broken system, whose patients sometimes pay with their jobs, their savings and even their lives. Following a group of uninsured individuals as they fight for access to medical care, the sobering odyssey is directed by award-winning filmmaker Roger Weisberg.


Documentary 2007 PG-13 123 minutes. Michael Moore sets his sights on the plight of the uninsured in this Oscar-nominated documentary that uses Moore’s trademark humor and confrontational style to ask the difficult questions and get to the truth behind the health care crisis. In the world’s richest country, 45 million people have no health insurance, while HMOs grow in size and wealth. Moore also explores the widespread use of antidepressants and their possible link to violence.

Remaking American Medicine

Documentary Series 2006 NR 240 minutes. Examining the quality crisis in our health-care system and exploring innovative solutions, this four-part PBS documentary provides a comprehensive look at the state of medicine in America today. Topics include patient safety, medical and medication mistakes, hospital-acquired infections, family-centered care and effective management of chronic disease. Moving personal stories highlight the problems and the people who are working to solve them.



Docudrama 2007 R 120 minutes. Based on a New York Times Magazine story, this crime drama starring Kevin Kline delves into a sordid world of international sex trafficking that leads from Mexico City to a New Jersey stash house. In a bid to save kidnapped 13-year-old Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) before she’s sold into sexual slavery, her desperate brother (Cesar Ramos) teams with a Texas cop (Kline). Can they find her before she vanishes into a hellish underworld?

Sex Slaves (2007)

Documentary MSNBC Undercover 2007 NR 4 episodes. Human rights advocates estimate that every year, nearly a million women worldwide are illegally bought and sold as sex slaves, many of whom end up in the United States. MSNBC goes inside the human trafficking and underground prostitution scene.

Sex Slaves (2006)

Documentary Frontline 2006. An estimated half-million women are trafficked annually for the purpose of sexual slavery. The women are kidnapped — or lured by traffickers who prey on their dreams of employment abroad — then they are “exported” to Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere, where they are sold to pimps, drugged, terrorized, locked in brothels, and raped repeatedly. In Eastern Europe, since the fall of communism, sex trafficking has become the fastest growing form of organized crime, with Moldova and Ukraine widely seen as the centers of the global trade in women and girls. On Feb. 7, Frontline presents a unique hidden camera look at this world of sexual slavery, talking with traffickers and their victims, and exposing the government indifference that allows the abuses to continue virtually unchecked. Sex Slaves also follows the remarkable journey of one man determined to find his trafficked wife by posing as a trafficker himself to buy back her freedom.

Blind Mountain
(Mang Shan)

Drama 2007 NR 95 minutes. The promise of a good-paying job lures a young Chinese woman into a horrifying predicament in this drama. College student Bai Xuemei (Lu Huang) awakens in a remote village to find she’s been sold into a marriage that is slavery in disguise. Her resistance to the repulsive “husband” and his family only results in beatings and rape. With hope running out and allies few, Bai undertakes one final dramatic stand against her oppressors.

Lilya 4-Ever

Drama 2003 R 109 minutes. In director Lukas Moodysson’s gut-wrenching drama, Oksana Akinshina stars as the 16-year-old title character who’s left to fend for herself in a blighted Estonian suburb when her mother (Lyubov Agapova) abandons her to move to America. Eager to escape her grim surroundings and seek a bright future, she falls victim to the promises of the charming Andrei (Pavel Ponomaryov), only to find a new life in Sweden worse than the one she left behind.

The Magdalene Sisters

Docudrama 2002 R 120 minutes. While women’s liberation sweeps the globe, in 1960s Ireland four “fallen” women are stripped of their liberty and dignity and condemned to indefinite servitude in the Magdalene Laundries, where they’ll work to atone for their “sins.” The Magdalene Sisters” tells the story of four young women’s experiences from 1964-1969 in Ireland’s Magdalene Asylums where Catholic girls accused of “moral crimes” (anything from getting pregnant, to being too attractive, to accusing a man of rape) were sent to work in laundries to make amends for their sins. The girls were subjected to all manner of abuse and some spent their entire lives behind the asylum’s walls forced to do labor under sweat-shop conditions. Finally these virtual prisons closed their doors in 1996, but not without a condemnation of the facilities and the nuns and priests who ran them. Be sure to view the DVD special feature which includes interviews of actual women who were confined to a Magdalene Asylum in a narrative entitled “Sex In A Cold Climate.” This is a powerful film with amazing performances about an unrelentingly bleak topic. As a man, I am well accustomed to seeing movies about the awful ways men have (and still do) treat women. What is shocking about The Magdalene Sisters is that it shows abuse is not about sex. Rather, it is about power and who wields it, regardless of their gender. This brilliantly crafted film depicts the cruelties inflicted on some 30,000 women in Ireland who were imprisoned into forced servitude in the Magdalene laundries of the Catholic Church. The common sins used as the pretexts of this self-righteous abuse (and exploitation) of these unfortunate women were those of their own loving acts – not violence. This film also depicts men in a sad, cowardly, subordinate role to this female-driven evil, which further reinforces the simple concept that power is about control – not gender. For these reasons, this film is a must-see for teenage boys and girls and they should see it together, and with their families.

Not Without My Daughter

Docudrama 1991 PG-13 1hr 55m. In this fact-based thriller, Sally Field plays an American housewife who finds herself virtually trapped in Tehran when she accompanies her Iranian husband on a vacation to his native country — and he decides to relocate the family to his homeland.See Full Review


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

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.

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.

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 Road to Guantanamo

Docudrama 2006 R 95 minutes.  Director Michael Winterbottom presents the true story of three British Muslim men known as “the Tipton Three,” who were unjustly arrested and held for more than two years in the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

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.

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


Giuliani Time

Documentary 2005 NR1hr 58m. Rudy Giuliani catapulted to international fame (that had even Queen Elizabeth fawning over him) upon helming the post-9/11 relief effort. The former mayor of New York City is also credited with cleaning up the streets of the Big Apple during the 1990s. But Kevin Keating’s exposé tells a different story — one of First Amendment transgressions and police brutality — through interviews with legal experts, activists and even the homeless.

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.

The Listening Project

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 13m. Named Best Documentary at the Santa Cruz Film Festival, Dominic Howes and Joel Weber’s intellectual trek through 14 countries attempts to uncover answers to the question, “What does the world think of the United States of America?” Individuals from all walks of life and myriad cultures freely express their stark opinions — both complimentary and condemning — of a nation that may not be loved by all, but leaves few lives untouched.

For the Bible Tells Me So

Documentary 2007 NR 95 minutes.  Director Daniel G. Karslake goes to the Bible to examine the ways in which conservative Christian groups have used — and sometimes exploited — scripture to deny human rights to gays and lesbians around the world.


Documentary 2010 NR 107 minutes. In this Oscar-nominated documentary, director Josh Fox journeys across America to examine the negative effects of natural-gas drilling, from poisoned water sources to kitchen sinks that burst into flames to unhealthy animals and people.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

Documentary 2007 NR 100 minutes. Blending interviews with the perpetrators, witnesses and victims involved in the notorious Abu Ghraib scandal of 2003, director Rory Kennedy (daughter of slain U.S. politician Robert F. Kennedy) offers an inside look at what really went on inside the walls of the infamous Iraqi prison. This Emmy winner for Best Nonfiction Special seeks to tell the stories behind the now-iconic photos depicting hooded prisoners, U.S. soldiers and humiliating acts.

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