Please click on the film title to learn more. For your convenience, you can also download a copy of the Social Justice Film List.


Lori Joyce and Candice Orlando, 79 minutes

On every continent, women are taking the lead to protect and restore the natural environment, and are empowering others to respect the earth. Arise presents the stories of a diverse group of 13 women in five countries who have initiated solution-oriented environmental projects in their communities, towns and villages.

These women are engaged in a variety of innovative efforts profiled in the film: replanting trees in Kenya, conserving biodiversity in India, preserving sacred Native lands, protecting the rainforest in Ecuador, building more sustainable local communities, transforming food through urban agriculture, creating safe outdoor places to play, training women to build and install solar lights, and organizing to combat climate change, among others.

Arise gives voice to these powerful women, and weaves together their inspiring stories with stunning images, poetry and music by well-known writers and musicians, including Alice Walker and Michael Franti.

Through these hopeful examples and new models, the women in the film challenge our current way of thinking about the environment, and encourage a shift in values to find a different, healthier way to view our relationship to the earth.

Beyond Gay, The Politics of Pride

Bob Christie, 2009

Gay Pride marches and festivals are happening all over the world sometimes under heavy opposition and violence.

Beyond Gay – The Politics of Pride is the most comprehensive look at the role of these events ever undertaken. This feature length documentary follows the Vancouver Pride Society’s (VPS) Parade Director Ken Coolen and his VPS colleagues as they travel to places where Pride is still steeped in protest to personally experience the rampant homophobia that still exists. They also travel to Sao Paulo Brazil for the world’s largest gay parade and New York City, the birthplace of the modern gay liberation movement. Increasingly the Pride movement is globalizing. Coolen and many Pride organizers in North America and Europe, where celebration has overtaken political action, strive to remind their communities that Pride is at its heart a global fight for human rights.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of people cheering in the streets, Pride is much, much more than a parade and a party. It is a giant step on the road to true equality. The GLBT community during Pride is an entertaining and engaging multi- ethnic group than can bring attention to the issue of human rights with diversity, insight, and of course plenty of fabulousness.

Source: Big Gay Movie website


Bombay Calling

Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, 2005, 70 minutes

Bombay Calling dives into the bustling world of late nights, long hours and hard partying to chronicle the rise of a new force in Indian society – the telemarketers. Fast-paced, gritty, and fun, the film is a compelling insider’s look at youth culture in India
Source: DVD box

Here you’ll learn accent coaching to sound less ethnic, enjoy cultural lessons that feature a viewing of Crocodile Dundee and discover that if you can keep the customer on the phone to say no six times, you’ve almost got your sale. Watching the highs and lows of the business is compelling, as is the look at Western consumer values corrupting Indian youth

Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History

Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student’s ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. It can become a cornerstone of anti-bullying efforts in middle and high schools.

Bullied includes:

  • A 40-minute documentary film (DVD), with closed captioning and with Spanish subtitles
  • A two-part viewer’s guide with standards-aligned lesson plans and activities for use in staff development
  • Additional materials online

Bullied is designed to help administrators, teachers and counselors create a safer school environment for all students, not just those who are gay and lesbian. It is also intended to help all students understand the terrible toll bullying can take on its victims, and to encourage students to stand up for their classmates who are being harassed.

This film was obtained from the organization Teaching Tolerance – A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Centre. They have other teaching resources available on their website.

China Blue

Micha X. Peled, 2005, 86 minutes

The documentary discusses both the sweatshop conditions in factories in China and the growing importance of China as an exporting country on a global scale. It’s part of Teddy Bear Films’ Globalization Trilogy together with Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, that focuses on consumerism in the U.S., and Bitter Seeds, that looks at the raw materials – the crisis of the farmers in India who are growing the cotton exported to China’s garment factories to be used for the clothes sold in the West.

Choose your Voice: Anti-Semitism in Canada

Canadian Jewish Congress, 2005

This video looks at attitudes we hold about people who are different and the way we respond to them, from name calling to bullying to exclusion to victimization to hatred to genocide. The opinions and experiences of the people in the DVD demonstrate how we are all responsible for the world we live in.
Source: DVD discussion guide.

Crossing Arizona

Joseph Mathew and Dan DeVivo, 2006, 75 minutes

“Crossing Arizona is an up-to-the-moment look at the hotly debated issues of illegal immigration and border security on the US/Mexico border. With Americans on all sides of the issue demanding change and Congress embroiled in a knock-down drag-out policy battle over how to move forward, this feature documentary tells the story of how we got to where we are today”
Source: DVD Box

Dead In the Water

Neil Docherty, 2006, 51 minutes 57 seconds

There’s a problem with the world’s water supply. One person in four doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. Many governments lack either the resources or the will to provide this essential commodity to their citizens.

In recent years, a number of powerful companies have spotted this crisis and seen a business opportunity. From the deserts of California to the streets of Soweto, and in several thousand other cities and towns throughout the world, often with the involvement of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, these corporations have attempted to privatize what many consider a public trust.

Dead in the Water investigates the results of these efforts at privatization in several key locations, and chronicles what many see as the first in a wave of battles in the years to come.
Source: DVD Box

Edible City - Grow the Revolution

Andrew Hasse, 2013

Edible City: Grow the Revolution is a fun, fast-paced, feature-length documentary journey through the local Good Food movement that’s taking root in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.

Favela Rising

Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary, 2005, 80 minutes

“FAVELA RISING documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many of his friends, Anderson Sá is a former drug-trafficker who turns social revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum. Through hip-hop music, the rhythms of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance he rallies his community to counteract the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is overcoming all odds and Anderson’s grassroots Afro Reggae movement is at the height of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.”
Source: DVD Box


Finding Dawn

Christine Welsh, 2006, 73 minutes

“Finding Dawn illustrates the deep historical, social and economic factors that contribute to the epidemic of violence against Native women in this country. It goes further to present the ultimate message that stopping the violence is everyone’s responsibility”
Source: DVD box


Ana Sofia Joanes, 2009, 70 minutes

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a
practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.


Review by an STA member

The film Fresh takes a close look at the current industrialized agricultural food system and all it’s inherent problems: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, increasing health problems – including morbid obesity, just to name a few. In contrast it compares the transformations happening as a result of the growing sustainable food movement: a switch to renewable energy sources, humane treatment of animals, a sustainable wage and favourable working conditions for farm workers and an increase in nutrient rich food that is locally grown. The information presented is sure to promote rich discussion on many topics and ultimately transform how we shop and produce our food in the future. Great for any high school students discussing issues of sustainability, equity, global warming, or complex integrated systems.

A Generation of Orphans

Liz Marshall, 2007, 29 minutes

“A Generation of Orphans is a half-hour documentary that gives voice to six orphans in Africa and the grassroots organizations working valiantly on their behalf — highlighting their hardship, hope and courage as they struggle with the loss of their parents to AIDS. This is the second film in a trilogy about the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work to support grandmothers, orphans and women in
sub-Saharan Africa”

Global Warning (Three Award Winning Films about our Planet in Peril)

Manufactured Landscapes
Jennifer Baichwal, 2006

This feature-length documentary focuses on internationally renowned Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky, who has spent the last three decades creating large-scale photographs of landscapes transformed by industry. He shoots quarries, scrap heaps, factories, recycling yards, dams and more. In this film, we follow him to China as he travels the country capturing the evidence and effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution. With Shanghai’s urban renewal as its subject, the film allows us to meditate on the human impact on our planet without falling back on simplistic judgments or reductive resolutions. Rather, it shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.

A Crude Awakening. the Oil Crash
Basil Gelpke, 2006

In 1956, geologist Marion King Hubbard proposed the peak oil theory: Once easily extractable oil reserves are depleted, demand will exceed supply and the natural-gas-dependent global economy will eventually collapse. This documentary argues that Hubbard was correct, drawing upon the testimony of a wide range of experts, concluding oil supplies will peak by 2020 and that alternative energy solutions will not be found quickly enough to provide a viable alternative.

The Refugees of the Blue Planet
Helene Choquette and Jean-Phillipe Duval, 2006 (In French with English subtitles)

Each year, millions of people the world over are driven to forced displacement. From the Maldives to Brazil, and even closer to home, here in Canada, the disturbing accounts of people who have been uprooted are amazingly similar. The enormous pressure placed on rural populations as a result of the degradation of their life-supporting environment is driving them increasingly further from their way of life. The Refugees of the Blue Planet sheds light on the little-known plight of a category of individuals who are suffering the repercussions of this reality: environmental refugees. They are constantly growing in number and often have no legal status, even though their right to a clean and sustainable environment has been violated.

God Grew Tired of us

Christopher Quinn, 2006, 90 minutes

Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, GOD GREW TIRED OF US explores the indomitable spirit of three “Lost Boys” from the Sudan who leave their homeland, triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversities and move to America, where they build active and fulfilling new lives but remain deeply committed to helping the friends and family they have left behind.

Orphaned by a tumultuous civil war and traveling barefoot across the sub-Saharan desert, John Bul Dau, Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Blor were among the 25,000 “Lost Boys” (ages 3 to 13) who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from famine, disease, wild animals and attacks from rebel soldiers. Named by a journalist after Peter Pan’s posse of orphans who protected and provided for each other, the “Lost Boys” traveled together for five years and against all odds crossed into the UN’s refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. A journey’s end for some, it was only the beginning for John, Daniel and Panther, who along with 3800 other young survivors, were selected to re-settle in the United States.

Good Food Bad Food

Coline Serreau, 2010 (In French with optional English subtitles)

Alarm-raising and catastrophist films have been made, and they have served their purpose. Now the time has come to show that there are solutions, to give a voice to the farmers, philosophers and economists who are inventing and experimenting with new alternatives, while explaining why our society is mired in the current ecological, financial and political crises.

A Grandmother's Tribe

Dean Eaterbrook and Quijing Wong, 2007, 54 minutes

Set between a tiny village and the largest slum in Africa, comes this story of two remarkable grandmothers. Their personal story represents the lives of countless grandmothers of africa, left behind after the loss of their own children, who, with determination and tenderness are now responsible for the rearing of more than 16 million orphaned children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: DVD case

Grandmothers. The Unsung Heroes of Africa

Stephen Lewis Foundation, 2006, 29 minutes

This film is a moving half hour experience that highlights the crucial role grandmothers play in caring for AIDS orphans and in holding thier families and communites together. Through intimate portraits of four African Grandmothers, Salome, Catarina, Karmela and Matilda, the film invites the world to listen to their stories and take action.

Granito de Arena - Grain of Sand

Corrugated Film, 2005, 62 minutes (English and Spanish with subtitles)

“Granito de Arena is the story of that resistance – the story of hundreds of thousands of public schoolteacherswhose grassroots, non-violent movement took Mexico by surprise, and who have endured brutal repression in their 25-year struggle for social and economic justice in Mexico’s public schools.”

He Named Me Malala.

Davis Guggenheim, 2015, 88 minutes

From the director of Waiting for Superman and An Inconvenient Truth comes this highly inspiring and deeply moving documentary about courage, survival and empowerment. He named me Malala tells the remarkable true story of teenager Malala Yousafzai who was attacked by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan for advocating girls’ education. Rather than be silenced, Malala emerged as a global voice for the educatio nrights of children, and in 2014 she became the youngest ever Nobel Prize recipient. This intimate glimpse into the life of an extraordinary girl is sure to inspire!

Honor Diaries

Micah Smith, 2013, 61 minutes

Honor Diaries features nine courageous women’s rights advocates with connections to Muslim-majority societies who are engaged in a dialogue about gender inequality.

These women, who have witnessed firsthand the hardships women endure, are profiled in their efforts to affect change, both in their communities and beyond.

The film gives a platform to exclusively female voices and seeks to expose the paralyzing political correctness that prevents many from identifying, understanding and addressing this international human rights disaster. Freedom of movement, the right to education, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation are some of the systematic abuses explored in depth.

Spurred by the Arab Spring, women who were once silent are starting to speak out about gender inequality and are bringing visibility to a long history of oppression. This project draws together leading women’s rights activists and provides a platform where their voices can be heard and serves as inspiration to motivate others to speak out.

More than a movie, Honor Diaries is a movement meant to inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies, and to act for change.


I Know I’m Not Alone

Michael Franti, 2006, 86 minutes

“Armed with an acoustic guitar and a video camera, musician Michael Franti takes us on a musical journey through war and occupation in Iraq, Israel and Palestine. Along the way he shares his music with families, doctors, musicians, soldiers, and everyday people who in turn reveal him the often overlooked human cost of war”
Source: DVD Box

Inequality for All

Jacob Kornbluth, 2013, 110 minutes

A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, Inequality for All features Robert Reich–professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member–as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this Inconvenient Truth for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us.

Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking

Bill Spahic and Anne Pick, 2009

In 1997, American-born Chinese writer Iris Chang authored and published The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II based on her research on the atrocities committed in Nanking and her parents’ firsthand experiences. The book became an international bestseller and was instrumental in raising awareness in the world about what happened in 1937, when Japanese imperial forces invaded Nanking (nowadays romanized as Nanjing) and raped, tortured, and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese people.

In 2007, the 70th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, Toronto’s “Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” sent a crew to China, Japan, Canada, and the United States to gather material in order to turn the book and its late author’s life into a documentary. Costing C$1.5 million and taking 15 months to make, the documentary combines precious archival material with interviews with victims and survivors to offer viewers a truthful account of one of the darkest chapters of world history that no one should forget.

Just Eat it

Peg Leg films, 2015, 50 minutes and 74 minutes

Film makers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail. all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away.
Source: DVD Back Cover

We have purchased the educational version which includes a 50 minute cut- down version better suited to class length.

Kids Can't Wait

BC’s Child Care Challenge, 2007, 29 minutes
Produced by: BC Government and Service Employees’ Union

How can quality child care help a child succeed in life? Can BC afford to fund a public child care system? Can we afford not to?

An excellent film to show to life skills or parenting classes.

Land Rain and Fire: Report from Oaxaca

Tami Gold, 2006, 30 minutes

“As the people’s movements in Latin America take center stage — LAND, RAIN and FIRE is a must-see! What began as a teachers’ strike on May 22, 2006 for better wages and more resources for students has erupted into a massive movement for profound social change in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. LAND, RAIN and FIRE tells the story of the police attack on the morning of June 14th when more than fifty thousand teachers were camped out with their children. Dozens were hospitalized. But the attack backfired as public anger transformed the strike into an unprecedented democratic insurgency, demanding the resignation of the Governor and the creation of a new constitution. Hundreds of unions, indigenous and women’s organizations, neighborhood groups, students and professional associations came together and created APPO – The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca and a massive campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience has brought the state government to a standstill”.

Living on One Dollar

Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, Ryan Christofferson, 2013, 56 minutes

How do 1.1 Billion people around the world live on less than $1 a day? Four young friends set out to research and live this reality. Armed with only a video camera and a desire to understand, they spend just $56 dollars each for 56 day sin rural Pena Blanca Guatemala. They battle e.coli, financial stress,and the realization that there are no easy answers. Yet, the generosity and strength of their neighbors, Rosa, Anthony and Chino gives them resilient hope.
Source: DVD cover

Review by an STA member

Two college students studying economics decide to experience the challenges of living in extreme poverty and head to rural Guatemala for their summer break. They encounter extreme hunger, the challenges of unclean water, the real cost of health care that most families cannot afford to access and the barriers to education that many children face. The boys become friends with their neighbours, Rosa and Anthony – who share their tips on cooking to get enough calories to get through the day and extend their warmth and hospitality to the boys. We are introduced to the world of micro financial loans and savings clubs that allow families to get ahead and help each other make larger purchases that improve the quality of their lives. The film ends on a note of hope and a message of empowerment. What can we do to help others improve their lives, especially when we have so much? It is a great film to show upper intermediate students learning about the lives of families and children in other countries and any high school students exploring the issues of poverty, equity and will inspire discussion on how to be the change on a global scale.

Looking For Justice: Every Cup of Coffee has a story

29 minutes

The video is about the coffee industry in Guatemala. The CCDA (An Indigenous Organization in the Highlands of Guatemala) since 1982 have been helping Guatemalan peasants access land and stand up for human and labour rights. They are providing an alternative to coffee farmers who work on Fincas (Industrial Coffee Farms) and Small Coffee Farmers who sell to Coyotes (middleman who impose low prices and cheat the farmers from their coffee production) by providing FAIR TRADE pricing for the coffee. The CCDA currently helps out 1800 Coffee Farmers = 7000 family members and in total 50,000 Guatemalans with jobs in rural development, processing the coffee from cherry form and building homes for families who live in subhuman conditions.

Love Hate Love

Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, 2011
Executive Producer: Sean Penn

It’s been more than ten years since Liz Alderman’s son Peter was murdered on 9/11, and five since Esther Hyman’s sister was killed by terrorists on 7/7 in London. Ben Tullipan lives now minus his two legs and most of his hearing because of the one ton car bomb that went off meters from where he was standing outside Bali’s Sari night club. Every day they are faced with a choice: Succumb to despair or find a way to survive. “Love Hate Love” follows these families on a journey across five continents, as they strive to build world-changing legacies and prove that even the most horrifying acts of hate can be overcome by simple acts of love.


Catherine Murphy, 2012, 33 minutes

Cuba, 1961: 250,000 volunteers taught 700,000 people to read and write in one year. 100,000 of the teachers were under 18 years old. Over half were women. Maestra explores this story through the personal testimonies of the young women who went out to teach literacy in rural communities across the island – and found themselves deeply transformed in the process. The Cuban Literacy Campaign is an important but little-known chapter in history. Catherine Murphy has created a project with rare and intimate access to this history. Her documentary MAESTRA brings together moving interviews with living witnesses, beautiful archival footage, and Catherine’s compelling storytelling.

Miss Representation

Jennifer Siebel Newsome, 2011

A feature length documentary that exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.


Kirk Bergstrom, 2013, 23 minutes

With beautiful visuals and inspiring stories, the Nourish film traces our relationship to food from a global perspective to personal action steps. Nourish illustrates how food connects to such issues as biodiversity, climate change, public health, and social justice.

  • Hosted and narrated by actress Cameron Diaz.
  • Features interviews with best-selling author Michael Pollan, sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé, chef Bryant Terry, pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke, and organic farmer Nigel Walker.
  • A companion to the award-winning PBS special Power Shift: Energy + Sustainability.

Occupy Love

Velcrow Ripper, 2013

If anyone can find the silver lining in a mushroom cloud, it’s this astounding, thoughtful filmmaker.” – The National Post

Velcrow Ripper is a Canadian Academy Award (Genie) winning filmmaker, writer, sound designer and public speaker. He creates powerful, cinematic documentaries that deal with the central issues of our times. Occupy Love is the culmination of his epic “Fierce Love Trilogy” which began with Scared Sacred, named one of Canada’s Top 10 movies of 2004, and winner of the 2005 Genie (Canadian Academy Award) for best feature documentary. It continued with 2008’s award winning Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action .

Occupy Love explores the growing realization that the dominant system of power is failing to provide us with health, happiness or meaning. The old paradigm that concentrates wealth, founded on the greed of the few, is causing economic and ecological collapse. The resulting crisis has become the catalyst for a profound awakening: millions of people are deciding that enough is enough – the time has come to create a new world, a world that works for all life. The film connects the dots in this era of rapidly evolving social change, featuring captivating insider scenes from the Egyptian Revolution, the Indignado uprising in Spain, Occupy Wall Street in New York, Indigenous activists at the Alberta Tar Sands, the climate justice movement, and beyond. Woven throughout the action oriented backbone of the film is a deep exploration of public love, and compelling stories of an emerging new paradigm. It features some of the world’s key visionaries on alternative systems of economics, sustainability, and empathy, including Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Jeremy Rifkin, bell hooks and Charles Eisenstein.

On the Line

Frank Wolf, 2011, 68 minutes

An eco-adventure documentary like no other. Follow Frank Wolf and Todd McGowan on a 2,400 km journey by foot, bike, raft and kayak seek to uncover the truth about a proposed 5.5 billion dollar oil pipeline.

Poor No More... there is a way out!

Deveaux Babin, 2010, 53 minutes

We were always told, “If you work hard, things will get better.” But many hard-working Canadians have only seen things get worse.Corporate profits soared, but only the rich got richer. The recession took away more jobs and piled up more debt, leaving more people poor or insecure. Poor No More offers solutions to Canada’s working poor. The film takes three Canadians to a world where people do not have to beg, where housing is affordable and university education is free. They ask themselves: if other countries can do this, why don’t we? Hosted by TV and film star Mary Walsh, Poor No More offers an engaging look at Canadians stuck in low paying jobs with no security and no future. Mary then takes us on a journey to Ireland and Sweden so we can see how these countries have tackled poverty while strengthening their economies. It offers hope to those who have to work two jobs a day and to those who cant find work.
source – the film website

Visit the website to view a preview of the film:

“This is an excellent film to show to Planning 10 classes when discussing welfare, financial planning, and career choices. It is very sobering and helps viewers see what the “real world” is like.” – Julia MacRae

Poverty Amid Plenty

Poverty Amid Plenty is a slideshow about welfare and poverty in British Columbia created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). It features interviews with welfare recipients and advocates and is narrated by Seth Klein, Director of the CCPA’s BC Office.

View Introduction:

Pretty Slick

James Fox, 2014

Filmmaker James Fox grows frustrated by the lack of plain talk and BP’s inability to plug a gushing well after its Deep Water Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. During the summer of 2010, Fox moves among locals across four Gulf states documenting the largest man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. He flies over ground zero with Marine Biologist Dr. Carl Safina who warns him that BP is sinking the oil with the chemical dispersant Corexit, sweeping it under the rug. He investigates this further and conducts his own independent water tests to determine toxicity levels. The results show that public safety takes a backseat to a tourist-based economy and the symbiosis between big oil and government becomes clear.

Reema: There and Back

Paul Émile d’Entremont, 2006, 52 minutes

“With a Canadian mother, who until recently was the only family she knew, and an Iraqi father who
wants to get to know his daughter after a 16-year absence, young Reema is confronted with difficult
questions about her identity. During Reema’s two-month visit with her father in Jordan, director
Paul Émile d’Entremont adopts the point of view of this sensitive and lively young girl who exhibits
all the contradictions typical of someone her age.

When Reema returns home to Nova Scotia after a visit with her father, she realizes that she will
always have a double identity, and that it is both a burden and a treasure”
Source: DVD Box

Resistencia - the fight for the Aguan Valley

Jesse Freeston, 2014

It is June 28, 2009. The People of Honduras are preparing to vote in their country’s first ever referendum. However, instead of waking up to ballot boxes they rise to find their streets full of soldiers. The first coup d’etat in Central America in three decades is underway. An unprecedented nationwide resistance movement is born, known simply as LA RESISTENCIA. Without question the most daring arm of the movement is that of the farmers of the Aguan Valley. With the president that promised to help them get their land back overthrown, the decide to take control of their own destiny. In a matter of minutes they seize control of over 10,000 acter of palm oil plantations belonging to the nations most powerful land owner. Located on some of the most fertile land in Central America, the farmers announce they have no plans to ever give the plantations back.

Rethink Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a ground-breaking, full-length documentary focusing on the key issues surrounding this war. By releasing this film in parts for free online, we are able to stay on top of news of the waras it continues to unfold. We strive for more discussion among experts on Afghanistan, like thedebates seen below released in conjunction with our documentary campaign.
– source, the film website

“I previewed part one, and thought it would be a good discussion starter, it is not too long, 20 mins , and a good contrast with the nightly news.” – Julia MacRae

Room to Breathe

Russell Long, 2012, 55 minutes

Room To Breathe is a surprising story of transformation as struggling kids in a San Francisco public middle school are introduced to the practice of mindfulness meditation. Topping the district in disciplinary suspensions, and with overcrowded classrooms creating a nearly impossible learning environment, overwhelmed administrators are left with stark choices: repeating the cycle of trying to force tuned-out children to listen, or to experiment with timeless inner practices that may provide them with the social, emotional, and attentional skills that they need to succeed. The first question is whether it’s already too late. Confronted by defiance, contempt for authority figures, poor discipline, and more interest in “social” than learning, can a young mindfulness teacher from Berkeley succeed in opening their minds and hearts?


Salmon Confidential

Twyla Roscovich, Alexandra Morton, 2013

Salmon Confidential is a new film on the government cover up of what is killing BC’s wild salmon. When biologist Alexandra Morton discovers BC’s wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming worldwide, a chain of events is set off by government to suppress the findings. Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, into British Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants. The film documents Morton’s journey as she attempts to overcome government and industry roadblocks thrown in her path and works to bring critical information to the public in time to save BC’s wild salmon. The film provides surprising insight into the inner workings of government agencies, as well as rare footage of the bureaucrats tasked with managing our fish and the safety of our food supply.


Connie Field, 2006

Find out what puts Cuba on the map in the quest for global health A timely examination of human values and the health issues that affect us all, Salud! looks at the curious case of Cuba, a cash-strapped country with what the BBC calls one of the world’s best health systems. From the shores of Africa to the Americas, !Salud! hits the road with some of the 28,000 Cuban health professionals serving in 68 countries, and explores the hearts and minds of international medical students in Cuba — now numbering 30,000, including nearly 100 from the USA. Their stories plus testimony from experts around the world bring home the competing agendas that mark the battle for global health and the complex realities confronting the movement to make healthcare everyone’s birth right.

Schools that Change Communities

Bob Gliner, 2012, 58 minutes

Schools that Change Communities profiles a diverse group of public schools that are successfully creating higher achieving students in a different way — by turning the communities where they live into their classrooms. The film re-imagines what education can be, visiting K-12 public schools in five states across America that are engaging students in learning by solving real-world problems in a variety of communities, from economically and environmentally challenged rural areas to poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods.

High school students in Howard, SD, build an interdisciplinary curriculum around a plan to save the town’s struggling economy. In a Boston neighborhood with a high level of crime and poverty, students learn to connect the dots between what their community seems to the outside world and what it might become. In a small Appalachian town, elementary school students help clean up an adjacent stream polluted by acid mine drainage from former coal mines. In Watsonville, CA, high school students studying Roosevelt’s New Deal try to come up with a New Deal for their farming community. In Cottage Grove, OR, students help create a sustainable environment, while learning valuable science, engineering and math lessons.

In the film, administrators, teachers, students and local residents discuss their projects and the value they find in place- and community-based education — an interdisciplinary approach which emphasizes hands-on, curiosity-based investigation using surrounding neighborhoods as “living” classrooms. By confronting and solving real-world issues in their hometowns, students become more engaged in the learning process and develop a stronger sense of civic responsibility and pride. Plus, the local communities benefit, as well.

Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot

On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights activists left Selma, Alabama, on foot, marching for dignity and equality.

Eighteen days, 54 miles, one police attack, 1,900 National Guard troops, 2,000 U.S. Army soldiers and countless stories later, they arrived in Montgomery—and changed history.

This film tells the story of a courageous group of students and teachers who, along with other activists, fought a nonviolent battle to win voting rights for African Americans in the South. Standing in their way: a century of Jim Crow, a resistant and segregationist state, and a federal government slow to fully embrace equality. By organizing and marching bravely in the face of intimidation, violence, arrest and even murder, these change-makers achieved one of the most significant victories of the civil rights era.

The Selma-to-Montgomery legacy includes the sacrifices of young people whose history is seldom told. Share their stories with your students.

Smoke Screen 2: Through the Eyes of New Canadians

Access to Media Education Society (AMES), 2009, 20 minutes, Advanced ESL 24 minutes, Beginner ESL 25 minutes

This is a tobacco prevention/cessation resource to help teachers and community leaders keep youth smoke-free. The documentaries in this resource package feature a series of dynamic youth made ads and candid interviews with young people about their views on smoking. There are ESL lessons plans, and resources to assist Health and Career Education and Planning 10 teachers.

Resources and lesson plans:

For ESL:
For general use:

Store Wars - When Walmart Comes to Town

Micha X. Peled, 2001, 59 minutes

Like many small towns, Ashland, VA had to decide whether to let a mega-store in. This one hour documentary examines the impact of Bog Box Chain stores on Small Town America.
– source DVD case

Sweet Crude

Sandy Cioffi, 2010, 93 minutes

Sweet Crude is the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta – the human and environmental consequences of 50 years of oil extraction and the members of a new insurgency who, in the three years after the filmmakers met them as college students, became the young men of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Set against a stunning backdrop of Niger Delta footage, the film shows the humanity behind the statistics and sensationalized media portrayal of the region, gives voice to a complex mix of stakeholders and invites the audience to learn the deeper story.

The 11th Hour

Nadia Conners, Leila Conners, 2007, 95 minutes

The 11th Hour is the last moment when change is possible. The film explores how we’ve arrived at this moment – how we live, how we impact the earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. Featuring ongoing dialogues of experts from all over the world, including former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, former head of the CIA R. James Woolsey and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau in addition to over 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders who discuss the most important issues that face our planet and people. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners. The 11th Hour is produced by Chuck Castleberry, Brian Gerber, Conners Petersen and DiCaprio.

The Clean Bin Project

Grant Baldwin, Jen Rustemeyer, 2011

The Clean Bin Project is about a regular couple and their quest to answer the question “is it possible to live completely waste free?” Jen and Grant go head to head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least amount of garbage in an entire year. Their light-hearted rivalry is set against a darker examination of the sobering problem of waste in North America. Even as they garner interest in their project and find themselves becoming unintentional zero-waste spokespeople, Jen and Grant struggle to find meaningin their seemingly minuscule impact on our “throw-away” society. Featuring interviews with renowned artist, Chris Jordan and marine pollution expert, Captain Charles Moore.


The Coca Cola Case - the truth that refreshes!

German Gutierrez and Carmen Garcia, 2009, 85 minutes

Colombia is the trade union murder capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers’ leaders
ave been killed by paramilitaries hired by companies intent on crushing the unions. Among these
corporate brands is… Coca-Cola. In a legal and human rights battle, three U.S. activists launch a
crusade against the soft drinks giant, via the U.S. federal court and the Stop Killer Coke campaign.
Will the victims see justice and what will they choose – cash, or power and integrity?
– from the DVD case

View trailer:

You’ll never look at a can of Coke the same way after seeing this documentary film.
Directors German Gutierrez and Carmen Garcia present a searing indictment of the Coca-Cola
empire and its alleged kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders trying to improve working
conditions in Colombia, Guatemala and Turkey. The filmmakers follow labour rights lawyers
Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth and an activist for the Stop Killer-Coke! Campaign, Ray
Rogers, as they attempt to hold the giant U.S. multinational beverage company accountable in
this legal and human rights battle.

The Devil's Miner

Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, 2005, 82 minutes

The devil’s miner is an astonishing portrait of two brothers, 14 year old Basilio and 12 Year old Bernardino, who work deep inside the silver mines of Cerro Rico, Bolivia. Raised without a father, and living on the slopes of the mine, Basilio and his brother must work the mines when they are not in school to help support their family and afford supplies vital to their education. In the mines, which date back to the sixteenth century, it is an ancient belief that the Devil determines the fate of those who enter. Basilio and his brother place their faith in the mountain’s devil generosity, hoping to earn enough money so they can continue going to school – ther only chance of escaping their destiny in the silver mines. – source – DVD case


The End of Poverty? Think again.

Phillipe Diaz, narrated by Martin Sheen, 104 minutes

THE END OF POVERTY? is a daring, thought-provokingand very timely documentary by award winning filmmaker Phillipe Diaz, revealing that poverty is not an accident. It began with military conquest, slavery, and colonization, that resulted in the seizure of land and other natural resources as well as in forced labour. Today, global poverty has reached new levels because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies- in other words, wealthy countries exploiting the weaknesses of poor developing countries. THE END OF POVERTY? asks why today 20% of the planet’s population uses 80% of its resources, and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. Can we really end poverty under our current economic system? Think again. – source – back of DVD case

The People Speak

Moore, Arnove and Howard Zinn, 2009, 106 minutes

The People Speak was inspired by Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking books A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States. The People Speak is a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans. The film gives voice to those who, by insisting on equality and justice, spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history and also illustrates the relevance of this to today’s society.

The Price of Sex

Mimi Chakarova, 2011, 73 minutes

The Price of Sex is a feature-length documentary about young Eastern European women who’ve been drawn into a netherworld of sex trafficking and abuse. Intimate, harrowing and revealing, it is a story told by the young women who were supposed to be silenced by shame, fear and violence. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, who grew up in Bulgaria, takes us on a personal investigative journey, exposing the shadowy world of sex trafficking from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Western Europe. Filming undercover and gaining extraordinary access, Chakarova illuminates how even though some women escape to tell their stories, sex trafficking thrives.

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Naomi Klein, 2009, 77 minutes

Offering illuminating insight into the investigative journalism behind Naomi Klein’s bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine, this riveting hour-long lecture and interview explains the ideas and research behind the book that exposed the popular myth of the free market economy’s peaceful global victory. From Chile in 1973 to today, this is the chilling tale of shock doctors, those powerful few making a killing around the world by cashing in on chaos and exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally implement their policies.

The World According to Monsato

Marie-Monique Robin, 2008, 109 minutes

With 17,500 employees, a 2006 sales figure of $7.5 billion and operations in 46 countries, Monsanto is the world leader in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as well as one of the most controversial corporations in industrial history. Since its founding in 1901, the company has faced trial after trial due to the toxicity of its products, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polystyrene, devastating herbicides like Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam war, and bovine growth hormones, which are yet unauthorised in Canada and banned in Europe. Today, Monsanto has reinvented itself as a “life sciences” company converted to the virtues of sustainable development. Thanks to its genetically modified seeds, engineered among other things to withstand Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s bestselling herbicide, the company claims it wants to solve world hunger while reducing environmental damage. Where does the truth lie?

These were the reasons

Stories of union organizing in British Columbia.

This film could be used with Planning 10 classes or if a teacher is wanting to contexualize a novel about union organizing or human rights. Not too long! Quite engaging! – Julia MacRae

This Changes Everything

Avi Lewis, 2015, 90 minutes

Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything, the film presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond. Interwoven with these stories of struggle is Klein’s narration, connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. Throughout the film, Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change.

Un Poquito De Tanta Verdad - A little bit of so much truth

Corrugated Films, 2006, 93 minutes (Spanish w/ English subtitles – Recommended for Spanish classes)

A Little Bit of So Much Truth captures the unprecedented media phenomenon that emerged when tens of thousands of school teachers, housewives, indigenous communities, health workers, farmers, and students took 14 radio stations and one TV station into their own hands, using them to organize, mobilize, and ultimately defend their grassroots struggle for social, cultural, and
economic justice.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Robert Greenwald, 2005, 60 minutes

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families and American values.

The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

Water Detectives

2007, 11 minutes 32 seconds

Through this engaging and empowering short documentary, Grade 4 to 7 students learn that their local conservation efforts can have far-reaching results. This lesson is made concrete through the experience of youth in Matamoros, Mexico, where a severe water shortage led the city to take the unusual step of putting local children in charge of changing adult attitudes and habits. Thousands of schoolchildren were enlisted as “water detectives” – educated in concepts of water conservation, and encouraged to discuss the importance of proper water usage with adults. Kids
were authorized to give “tickets” to transgressors who were seen to be wasting water, and the municipality followed up by fixing leaks and visiting homes. The result? Matamoros lowered its
water consumption by nearly 20% in just one year!

Featuring lively narration from Mariana, Carlos and Raoul – three water detectives from Matamoros – the film’s message is inspiring for school children everywhere. source – the film’s website
This film is great for grade 5. We have two copies because it is so popular! For more information and teachers’ guide:

When Canada Said No

A short documentary project commissioned by B’nai Brith Canada, When Canada Said No tells the story of the MS St Louis. The oceanliner departed Hamburg, Germany carrying Jewish refugees desperate to flee Nazi Germany. They tried to escape any way they could. Michael Schaus produced and co-wrote the 18 minute documentary for Stitch Media, and worked in close collaboration with B’nai Brith.

With My Own Two Wheels

Pedal Born Pictures, 2011, 43 minutes

For many Americans, the bicycle is a choice. An expensive toy. An eco-conscious mode of transportation. For countless others across the globe, it is much more. For Fred, a health worker in Zambia, the bicycle is a means of reaching twice as many patients. For Bharati, a teenager in India, it provides access to education. For Mirriam, a disabled Ghanaian woman, working on bicycles is an escape from the stigma attached to disabled people in her community. For Carlos, a farmer in Guatemala, pedal power is a way to help neighbors reduce their impact on the environment. For Sharkey, a young man in California, the bicycle is an escape from the gangs that consume so many of his peers. With My Own Two Wheels weaves together the experiences of these five individuals into a single story about how the bicycle can change the world—one pedal stroke at a time.

Review by a STA member

My Own Two Wheels is a documentary about hope, compassion, resourcefulness, the entrepreneurial spirit, and empowerment. It tells the stories of how bicycles have transformed the lives of 5 different people around the world. A health care worker in Zambia can visit more patients in a day with the aide of his bike, a young girl in India is able to attend high school and spend more time focusing on her studies, a disabled woman in Ghana is able to work and support herself by working as a bike mechanic. A farmer in Guatemala is running a company that uses the parts of old bicycles to make environmentally friendly farm machinery making the lives of his fellow Mayan farmers much easier and a young man works as a volunteer in California teaching others how to fix their bikes while finding purpose and direction in his own life. This would be a great film to show to upper intermediate and high school students that are exploring the issues of poverty, the environment, equity and equality with regards to the access of resources, and basic human rights.

Witness to History: Canadian Survivors of WWII in Asia

BC Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA), 2005

This video documentary features the story of four Asian Holocaust survivors:

Three of them were in their childhood during wartime, and Tony was only 17 years old when he became a POW. They witnessed and experienced the sufferings and horrors of war, particularly the impact of the atrocities on women and children. Each story is appropriately “chapterized” to allow teachers versatility in classroom use. There is also a 17-minute excerpt of testimonies highlights available for teachers who wish to briefly introduce a variety of survivors’ stories.

Interviewing of the survivors and video editing was done by Celine Rumalean. Celine is an independent documentary filmmaker, whose feature documentary Yesterday is Now examines how contemporary Japan views its wartime past.

Women: The Face of Aids

Liz Marshall, 2007, 29 minutes

Women: The Face of AIDS is a half-hour documentary that traces the stories of five courageous HIV-positive women in sub-Saharan Africa and the tremendous grassroots organizations that support them. This is the third film in a trilogy about the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s work to support grandmothers, orphans and women in sub-Saharan Africa.