Movies About Activism

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Movies About Activism

Many films have reported on Movies About Activism. We wrote about 25 of the top ones.

Schindler's List (1993)

Schindler's List
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall
Rated R

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical drama directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who saves the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Nazi officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, and has become widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The Lives of Others (2006)

The Lives of Others
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, starring Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Rated R

The Lives of Others is a 2006 German drama film set in East Berlin in 1984. The film follows Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, who is assigned to conduct surveillance on a successful playwright and his actress lover. Through the course of his mission, Wiesler slowly uncovers the truth behind East Germany's oppressive government and begins to question his own beliefs. In the process of his investigation he develops a compassionate bond with the couple, which leads him to a redemptive transformation. The Lives of Others won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and is widely acclaimed for its exploration of themes such as government surveillance, morality, and human connection.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

To Kill a Mockingbird
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Robert Mulligan, starring Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy
Rated Approved

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic drama set in the 1930s in a small town in Alabama. The film follows 8-year-old Scout (Mary Badham) and her brother Jem (Philip Alford) as they observe their father Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) courageously fighting against racism and injustice. Atticus is appointed to defend an African-American man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), who has been falsely accused of rape. The trial exposes the racism and prejudice of the town, and Atticus must use his intelligence and wit to try to save Tom from the injustice of the court. Along the way, Atticus and the children learn about courage, strength, and the importance of standing up for what is right.

Z (1969)

Z
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Costa-Gavras, starring Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, François Périer
Rated M/PG

"Z" is a political thriller directed by the Academy Award winning director Costa-Gavras, and starring Yves Montand, Irene Papas, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. The film follows the story of a left-wing journalist's investigation into the assassination of a left-wing Greek politician. As he digs deeper, he uncovers a web of political corruption involving the military junta and high-ranking public officials. The film was highly acclaimed for its political message, and was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The film also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

V for Vendetta (2005)

V for Vendetta
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From James McTeigue, starring Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves, Stephen Rea
Rated R

V for Vendetta is a dystopian action-thriller set in a near-future Britain, in which a shadowy freedom fighter known only as “V” (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight against the oppressive government. He rescues a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) from the secret police and a complicated relationship develops between them. V attempts to ignite a revolution through elaborate terrorist acts, hoping to bring about a new world without oppression and fear. In the process, both V and Evey must confront the government’s brutal tactics and their own sense of morality. Together, they seek the freedom to choose their own destiny.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Attenborough, starring Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth
Rated PG

Gandhi is an epic biographical drama covering the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolution against British rule. Through his philosophy of non-violent protest, he rallied the Indian people against the British Empire and its repressive policies. The film follows the life of Gandhi from his early years in India, through his years in South Africa, and culminates in his triumphant return to India and the subsequent struggle for independence. Along the way, it highlights some of the major events in Gandhi's life, including his Salt March, the Dandi March, and his fasts for peace. The film paints a vivid picture of Gandhi's life, his ideals, and the impact he had on India and the world.

Underground (1995)

Underground
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Emir Kusturica, starring Predrag 'Miki' Manojlovic, Lazar Ristovski, Mirjana Jokovic, Slavko Stimac
Rated Not Rated

Underground is a 1995 black comedy drama film written and directed by Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica. Set in Belgrade during World War II and the Yugoslav Wars, the film follows two friends, Marko and Blacky, who become involved in the underground black market and various political and criminal activities. As their paths diverge, the film follows each of their lives for the next forty years, exploring the absurdities of war, the effects of politics on ordinary people, and the changing dynamics between their friendship and loyalty. The film features a large cast of characters, some of whom are used to satirize the politics of the time, while others are portrayed in a more realistic light. Ultimately, the film is an exploration of the power of friendship and loyalty in a world of chaos and destruction.

The Help (2011)

The Help
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Tate Taylor, starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard
Rated PG-13

The Help is a powerful story of resilience and courage in the American South during the civil rights movement. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, the film follows a young white woman, Skeeter (Emma Stone), who is determined to make a difference in the lives of African-American women working in white households as domestics. With the help of her friend Abileen (Viola Davis), Skeeter begins interviewing the “help” and writing a book based on their lives. As the book gains momentum, the relationships between the white women employers and their African-American servants become strained and the threat of harsh retribution looms. Despite the danger, the women’s courage and strength help them overcome the dangers and obstacles they face. The Help is a powerful and moving story about the power of friendship, the importance of standing up for what’s right, and the true meaning of courage and resilience.

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

The Battle of Algiers
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Gillo Pontecorvo, starring Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Samia Kerbash
Rated Not Rated

The Battle of Algiers is a classic 1966 Italian-Algerian historical drama directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. The film tells the story of the Algerian people's struggle against French colonial rule during the Algerian War of Independence. The film follows the struggles of Ali La Pointe and the National Liberation Front (FLN) as they resist French forces in the city of Algiers. Through a combination of documentary-style filmmaking and gripping drama, Pontecorvo captures the tension and violence of the conflict. The film also provides a unique perspective on the war, showing both sides of the conflict, including the French-led police brutality and the desperate acts of terrorism committed by the FLN. Ultimately, The Battle of Algiers serves as a powerful reminder of the human cost of war and the power of people to fight for freedom.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Exit Through the Gift Shop
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Banksy, starring Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Space Invader, Debora Guetta
Rated R

Exit Through the Gift Shop is a 2010 documentary film directed by the controversial British graffiti artist Banksy. The film tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles who obsessively videotapes the underground world of street art. After Guetta comes into contact with Banksy, the two collaborate to create a project that will document the street art movement. However, their project takes an unexpected turn when Guetta takes matters into his own hands and launches his own art career. Ultimately, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a humorous and insightful exploration of the commercialization of street art and how a single person can change the art world.

Matewan (1987)

Matewan
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From John Sayles, starring Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham
Rated PG-13

Matewan is a 1987 American drama film written and directed by John Sayles and starring Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell and Will Oldham. Set in 1920, the film dramatizes the events of the Battle of Matewan, a coal miners' strike in Matewan, a small town in the hills of West Virginia. The film follows the story of union organizer Joe Kenehan (Cooper) as he attempts to help local miners organize a union and fight for better work conditions and wages. Kenehan's efforts result in a violent clash between the miners, their supporters, and the coal companies' hired thugs. The film stands as an important example of the struggles of workers in the US in the early 20th century, and the battle of Matewan is seen as an early example of the power of labor unions in the US.

Street Fight (2005)

Street Fight
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Marshall Curry, starring Jen Bluestein, Cory Booker, Bill Bradley, Chris Christie
Rated Not Rated

Street Fight is a documentary film directed by Marshall Curry, released in 2005. It follows Cory Booker, a 34-year-old Yale Law graduate and councilman in Newark, New Jersey, as he campaigns for mayor in 2002 against four-term incumbent Sharpe James. During the course of the campaign, Booker was outspent and out-organized by James and his political machine, facing numerous obstacles along the way. The film captures the intensity of the election and examines the issues at stake, as well as the social and economic challenges facing the city of Newark. As the race draws to a close, the film reveals the powerful forces that shape the outcome of an urban election.

We Were Here (2011)

We Were Here
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: David Weissman, Bill Weber, starring Ed Wolf, Daniel Goldstein, Guy Clark, Eileen Glutzer
Rated Not Rated

We Were Here is a 2011 documentary film directed by David Weissman and Bill Weber. It is a powerful account of the early days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. The film follows five individuals and their personal stories of the lives that were lost, the struggles they faced and the courage they showed in the face of a devastating and confusing illness. Through a combination of archival footage and present-day interviews, the film guides viewers through a devastating time in history, providing a unique perspective into the impact of AIDS on the city of San Francisco and its citizens. Ultimately, We Were Here is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder of the importance of compassion and solidarity in times of crisis.

Brazil (1985)

Brazil
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Terry Gilliam, starring Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond
Rated R

Brazil is a science-fiction comedy-drama film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. The film stars Jonathan Pryce as a daydreamer who becomes embroiled in a bureaucratic nightmare when he attempts to correct an administrative error. His efforts are thwarted by a government agency intent on keeping its citizens in a state of permanent happiness and contentment. The film satirizes bureaucracy and authoritarianism, and the struggles of the individual against an oppressive, dystopian system. The film also features Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Michael Palin. The film follows Sam Lowry, a low-level clerk in a dystopian, bureaucratic world. He is troubled by nightmares of a mysterious woman in his dreams and begins to investigate her identity. In the process of doing so, he is arrested by government agents and brought before the Minister of Information. Despite his best efforts to convince them of his innocence, Sam is eventually declared a terrorist and thrown into a mental institution. In the end, he is able to escape the oppressive system and reunite with the woman from his dreams. Brazil is highly acclaimed, and has been praised for its unique and inventive world-building and

An Unreasonable Man (2006)

An Unreasonable Man
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan, starring Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn, Eric Alterman
Rated Not Rated

An Unreasonable Man is a documentary film that explores the career and legacy of Ralph Nader, the activist and former presidential candidate. The film follows Nader through his successful public campaigns and his unsuccessful bids for the presidency. It features interviews with a wide range of people, including political figures, former colleagues, and Nader himself. It also examines the role of third party candidates in the American political system, and the controversy and criticism Nader has received for his uncompromising approach to public issues. The documentary provides an in-depth look at both Nader's life and his career, and ultimately paints a picture of a passionate and determined man who has made a lasting impact on American politics.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

Mississippi Burning
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Alan Parker, starring Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, Brad Dourif
Rated R

Mississippi Burning is a 1988 drama film directed by Alan Parker, which tells the story of FBI agents investigating the disappearance of three civil rights activists in the state of Mississippi in 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement. The lead agents, Rupert Anderson and Alan Ward, face racism and hostility from local law enforcement as they try to uncover the truth. As they investigate, they uncover evidence of a widespread conspiracy by local officials to deny African Americans their civil rights. The climax of the film comes when the agents finally uncover the truth, leading to a dramatic and violent confrontation between the local Klansmen and the FBI. Although the movie is a fictionalized account, the events depicted are based on the true story of the Ku Klux Klan's involvement in the murders of civil rights activists Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman.

Changeling (2008)

Changeling
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Clint Eastwood, starring Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan, Gattlin Griffith
Rated R

Changeling is a 2008 drama film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich and Jeffrey Donovan. The film is based on the true story of Christine Collins (Jolie), a single mother in Los Angeles during the 1920s whose son goes missing. When the LAPD finds a boy who they believe is her son, she questions their claim and is committed to a mental hospital by the corrupt police chief. With the help of a crusading minister (Malkovich), Christine attempts to prove that the boy the police found is not her son and uncovers a dark secret which reveals the corruption of the LAPD. Jolie's powerful performance, combined with Eastwood's masterful direction and the film's chilling story, make Changeling an intense and unforgettable drama.

For the Bible Tells Me So (2007)

For the Bible Tells Me So
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Daniel G. Karslake, starring Imogene Robinson, Victor Robinson, Gene Robinson, Isabella 'Boo' McDaniel
Rated Unrated

For the Bible Tells Me So is a 2007 documentary film directed by Daniel Karslake that explores how Christian families across the United States respond when they discover that one of their children is gay. The film combines interviews with political and religious leaders, as well as with family members, to explore the tensions between the Christian faith and homosexuality. It follows the stories of five Christian families, each of whom has a gay or lesbian child, as they struggle to reconcile their beliefs with their love for their children. In addition to exploring the emotional journeys of the families, the film also examines the political and religious landscape of the United States on the issue of homosexuality. The film ultimately presents a hopeful message that reconciliation between faith and homosexuality is possible.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis
Rated PG

Ghostbusters is a 1984 supernatural comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Sigourney Weaver. The film centers around a team of three parapsychologists–Peter Venkman (Murray), Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis)–who start a business in New York City called "Ghostbusters" to capture and contain paranormal entities. When the ghosts start to overrun Manhattan, the Ghostbusters are called in to save the city. After a series of comical misadventures, the Ghostbusters eventually succeed in defeating the evil spirit of an ancient Sumerian deity, Gozer, and restoring order in the city.

The Insider (1999)

The Insider
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Michael Mann, starring Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora
Rated R

The Insider is a 1999 drama film based on the true story of a former tobacco executive, Jeffrey Wigand (played by Russell Crowe), who agrees to testify against the tobacco industry in a major class-action lawsuit. The film follows Wigand's struggles as he attempts to do the right thing in the face of threats from the tobacco industry, as well as his own internal turmoil about his past. The film also focuses on 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (played by Al Pacino) and his efforts to get the story out despite the various obstacles he faces. In the end, with the help of Bergman and the producers at 60 Minutes, Wigand's testimony is broadcast and has major repercussions on the tobacco industry.

Awakenings (1990)

Awakenings
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Penny Marshall, starring Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson
Rated PG-13

Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film directed by Penny Marshall and starring Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, Julie Kavner, and Ruth Nelson. Based on the 1973 memoir of the same name by British neurologist Oliver Sacks, the film tells the story of Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Williams), a doctor at a New York hospital who discovers beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa in catatonic patients who survived the 1917–28 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica. The film follows Sayer as he administers the drug to his patients, restoring movement, reason, and life to them. He soon realizes, however, that the effects are temporal and that the patients must eventually come to terms with the realities of their newfound life. The film was well-received by critics, who praised Williams and De Niro's performances, as well as the emotionality of the subject matter. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

Good Bye Lenin!
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Wolfgang Becker, starring Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas
Rated R

Good Bye Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film directed by Wolfgang Becker. The movie tells the story of a family in East Berlin in 1989. When the mother, Christiane, suffers a heart attack and goes into a coma, her son, Alex, takes it upon himself to protect her fragile health by trying to prevent her from learning about the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the East German communist regime and the reunification of Germany. Alex makes a plan to keep his mother in the dark by protecting her from the news and recreating the familiar surroundings of the past. He goes to great lengths to do this, including buying furniture and food that were available in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The film follows Alex as he struggles to keep his secret while his mother slowly recovers. In the end, he is able to convince her that East Germany never ended, and she wakes up from her coma. Christiane soon learns the truth, and Alex is left feeling relieved and guilty for deceiving her. The movie ends with a bittersweet reunion as the family reunites and Christiane, able to embrace the new reunified Germany, says her goodbyes to the era of East Germany.

Malcolm X (1992)

Malcolm X
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Spike Lee, starring Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee
Rated PG-13

Malcolm X is a biopic of the civil rights leader of the same name, directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington. The film follows Malcolm X's life from his early days in Boston and Harlem in the 1940s, to his conversion to Islam and life-changing journey to Mecca in the 1960s, to his assassination in 1965. Through his story, the film explores themes of race, identity, injustice, and the importance of hope in the face of despair. By presenting the complexity of Malcolm X's life and struggle, the film is an important reminder of the power of one to change the world.

Call Me Kuchu (2012)

Call Me Kuchu
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall, starring David Bahati, David Kato, Gilles Muhame, Naome Ruzindana
Rated Not Rated

Call Me Kuchu is a documentary film about the struggles of the LGBT community in Uganda. The film follows the story of David Kato, Uganda's first openly gay man, and his fellow activists as they work to fight discrimination and violence against Uganda's LGBT community. The film highlights the events leading up to Kato's murder in 2011, as well as the continuing fight for LGBT rights in the country. Through its powerful storytelling, the film sheds light on the courage of a community determined to be heard in a hostile environment.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Marc Rothemund, starring Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held, Johanna Gastdorf
Rated Not Rated

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a biographical drama directed by Marc Rothemund. The film chronicles the last few days of Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old German student who was a member of the anti-Nazi non-violent resistance group, The White Rose. After distributing leaflets denouncing Hitler and the Nazi regime, Sophie is arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo. Despite the Gestapo's attempts to get Sophie to divulge information about other members of The White Rose, she refuses to cooperate, remaining loyal to her friends and her beliefs. In the end, Sophie is sentenced to death and executed. The film follows her courageous story through her trial, her final days in prison, and her courage in the face of death. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a powerful story of courage, conviction, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.

 



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