This article is a list of the best and most informative documentaries with a heavy lean towards activism. Whether you’re looking for an escape valve or want to learn more about the world, these films are sure to be able to satisfy your cravings. From pure entertainment value up to educational enlightenment, there’s something for everyone on this list.
- Activists are some of the most dedicated people in the world.
- They fight for what they believe in and sometimes risk their lives to change this world.
- Sometimes activism can be tough to watch because it is so difficult to see someone you care about being attacked for fighting for their beliefs and values.
Who will feel the passion
If you are an activist or simply interested in activism, then this list of docudramas will be right up your alley.
- Activism can be a daunting idea to get started with, and these films will help inspire and motivate the next generation of activists.
- This list of informative documentaries portrays real-life stories of people who have made significant changes in the world by standing up for what they believe in.
- They are full of powerful messages about how anyone can make change happen as long as they’re willing to take action!
1. An Inconvenient Truth
- “An Inconvenient Truth” is a documentary film about global warming, what it means to our world, and how we can stop it
- The film was directed by Davis Guggenheim
- It features Al Gore’s campaign to educate people on climate change as well as his efforts in leading an international treaty negotiation process
- It won two Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song (for “I Need Some Sleep”)
- The movie has been translated into over 30 different languages and has been viewed by millions of people around the world
- In 2006, Gore also published an illustrated book version of “An Inconvenient Truth” which sold 2 million copies worldwide
- The film grossed over $24 million as of January 2009
- It was adapted into the “Live Earth” concert series and inspired the follow-up documentary, “, which first aired on 24th December 2015 (Al Gore is executive producer)
- The movie was also re-released in 3D in 2017 for educational purposes
- In 2007, a parody version called “An Inconvenient Truth 2: The Search for More Money” starring Al Franken was released by Air America Radio
- Blackfish is a documentary about the treatment of killer whales in captivity
- The story centers around Tilikum, a whale who has been involved in three human deaths while living at SeaWorld
- This film explores the consequences of keeping these huge animals confined and how it affects their health and behavior
- In addition to interviews with former trainers, we hear from psychologists and other experts on animal welfare as well as members of the general public who are concerned about what they see when they visit marine parks like SeaWorld
- You’ll learn that there’s no such thing as humane dolphin shows or captive breeding programs for orcas because nothing can replace their life in the wild
- We also hear from the CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, who tries to explain away their actions, as well as the former curator of the Loro Parque in Puerto Rico, who manages and trains the whales there
- One of SeaWorld’s main fears is that people will stop going to see them when they find out what happens behind closed doors
- The filmmakers hope that this film helps us realize how big an effect these marine parks have on orcas and other animals and inspires us to help shut them down
- Blackfish received a one-week theatrical run last year before being picked up by Magnolia Pictures for distribution earlier this year
- It has also been shown at several festivals worldwide and has been called one of the most influential documentaries of 2013.
3. Salt of the Earth
- The film follows a group of miners in a remote village in Bolivia who go on strike against their exploitative company
- After the strikers are violently subdued, they confront the realities of living without work and decide to take back their mine by force
- They rally local support for their cause and eventually succeed, but not before enduring many hardships that threaten the livelihoods of themselves and their families
- This documentary is an eye-opening look into the lives of those often forgotten by society – working-class people struggling to make ends meet every day
- “Salt of the Earth” is about so much more than just one mining town’s struggle for justice; it speaks volumes about what it means to be human when everything you love is being taken from you
- The film’s message is clear: the people united will never be defeated!
- Everyone should see this movie – it’s a masterpiece of progressive cinema that provides a rare glimpse into an ongoing struggle still going on today
- “Salt of the Earth” offers a view of the world, and its political and social problems, which is sorely missing from mainstream film media – a perspective that delves deeper than your average Hollywood blockbuster to expose real-life issues in all their complexity
- It’s pretty great; I like it. 10/10 would recommend
4. The True Cost
- The True Cost documentary is a must-watch film for everyone to understand the human and environmental costs of fast fashion
- The consequences world’s thirst for cheap clothes has on pollution in China, slavery in Uzbekistan, and our eyes are opened
- To change this, we must first understand it – watch the movie if you want to know more about where your clothes come from, who makes them, and what they cost us all!
- A powerful documentary that aims to expose people to aspects of the clothing industry they might not know or have thought about before
- And when you do watch The True Cost (out June 11), prepare yourself: You’ll never look at your closet—or the world—the same way again
- But it’s not just about clothes; it is also a discussion of what our society values and where we are headed as a consumer culture
- Award-winning documentary “The True Cost” reveals the devastating human and environmental costs of fast fashion, urging viewers to be more mindful consumers
5. The Power Behind Protest In India And China
- In the past decade, a new wave of activism has swept through India and China as people take to the streets to demand more from their governments, with varying degrees of success.
- This documentary looks at what lies behind this recent surge in protests – examining how grassroots movements have gained momentum, why some protests are tolerated while authorities crush others, and how these demonstrations may shape politics for years to come
6. The Corporation
- The Corporation is a documentary film about the nature and history of corporations. The film explores how corporations have been affected by society and how they, in turn, affect society.
- It examines various aspects of corporate activity, including production and consumption; competition with other businesses; advertising to consumers; lobbying government; relations with labor unions and environmental groups; research and development of new products (and destruction or pollution of the environment); global reach through trade agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, WTO, etc.; economic dominance over small countries such as Haiti (via IMF loans) or Jamaica (via bauxite mining).
- The film’s director Mark Achbar says that it “explores the complexities of what we call ‘the corporation’… We don’t think of them as evil, we don’t want to get rid of them. They take all kinds of different forms, but they are increasingly becoming an extremely dominant force in our society and culture.”
- The Corporation is co-produced by Levitt Gail (Andrea & Barrie) and Achbar Michael. It was directed by Mark Achbar and Canadian journalist Joel Bakan. The film was released theatrically in Canada on March 12, 2004, and had a limited United States release from May 27 – June 3, 2005, for Academy Award consideration. In 2005 the film won the Genie Award for ‘Best Documentary.’ Since its theatrical release, it has been translated into 22 languages and shown in more than 60 countries worldwide.
7. Bowling For Columbine
- “Bowling for Columbine” is a documentary by Michael Moore
- The film focuses on the events leading up to and including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, as well as broader themes of gun violence in America
- Moore points out that many mass shootings in America are committed with legally obtained firearms, often purchased at local stores near the school or workplace of the shooter’s victims
- He also argues that most Americans believe they live in a violent society because they have been conditioned to see images of violence from an early age through TV news coverage and video games, which cause desensitization to real-life atrocities like war
- To prevent future tragedies like Columbine, he suggests that the American public must change their values and way of life to focus less on material possessions and more on family values
- Moore also highlights America’s apparent obsession with handguns that crime rates for most countries have remained stable or dropped while in the United States, they have skyrocketed even though we don’t manufacture or sell nearly as many guns as these other countries do
- He states that this is because handguns are designed to kill people, whereas assault weapons are designed to kill a lot of people quickly during the war which makes them far more dangerous than handguns
- Additionally, he argues that there should be more gun control laws across the board but especially when it comes to semi-automatic rifles such as the AR15, which carry large magazines capable of firing off dozens of rounds in a matter of seconds
- Moore also addresses the issue of the NRA, which states it believes that “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
- He counters this statement by saying that since Columbine, many other shootings have been stopped by people who carry guns (police officers or armed citizens) but not because they are armed themselves; rather, they were able to stop or stall the shooter before he could inflict more damage and harm innocent lives
8. Fahrenheit 9/11
- The film is a documentary about the presidency of George W. Bush and his role in leading America into the Iraq War
- It explores how, during both terms as president, he pushed for a more aggressive military policy than had previously been seen in American foreign policy
- The film alleges that one of Bush’s motivations was to secure oil supplies for his friends in Texas and make money from it
- Fahrenheit 9/11 became an international box office success, grossing $222 million worldwide by November 2004
- The film also won several awards, including the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or
- Metacritic in 2016 ranked it as an 8th-most acclaimed documentary film to date
- It was released on DVD and VHS later that year
- This also led to accusations that Moore had lied in interviews about the budget of the film
- As a result of this, Southeastern Asset filed suit against him for violating his contractual agreement with them not to disparage its investors or assets, and Moore countersued
- In February 2011, the parties agreed that they would dismiss their respective suits and let “the people decide” who is right
9. The Cove (2009)
- The Cove is a 2009 documentary film directed by Louis Psihoyos and produced by Fisher Stevens
- It tells the story of Ric O’Barry’s quest to stop dolphin hunting in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan
- The movie follows his attempts to thwart Japanese fishers who catch dolphins for meat or sell them into captivity to aquariums around the world
- With help from local activists, he trains dolphins so they can find and alert divers when whales are being killed nearby
- Filmmakers captured underwater footage of dolphin killings that had never been seen before
- They also documented how dolphins are captured in steel nets then sorted according to size, sex and species before being taken away on boats
- Each year, about 23,000 dolphins and small whales are hunted or trapped in Japan
- About 10,000 of these animals die as a direct result of the hunt
- The film premiered at the 26th Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2009
- After three weeks in theaters and gaining $2 million worldwide, The Cove was the top-grossing documentary of 2010 relative to budget and number of theaters screened
- In addition to commercial success, it received critical acclaim by winning numerous awards, including Best Documentary from several critics associations
- It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010 but lost to Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson 14/01/11
10. Gasland (2010)
- Gasland is a 2010 documentary about hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
- The film argues that fracking poses many threats to the environment and human health
- It features interviews with people who live near gas drilling sites, including homeowners whose water supplies were contaminated
- The film also includes footage of tap water that has been set on fire due to methane contamination from nearby natural gas wells
- Filmmaker Josh Fox was sued by energy companies for copyright infringement after he used clips from their films in his movie without permission
- Gasland won several awards at festivals around the world, including Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature
- The fracking industry and government officials criticized the film, which prompted some theaters to refuse to screen it
- Energy In Depth (EID), an oil and gas industry group, has been critical of Fox’s films Gasland and Gasland Part II.
Some feel that they can’t impact society, and others suffer from fear or guilt. Those who do not step up for what they believe in will be condemned by history as we move forward into the future, so it’s essential to take action now. For those looking for inspiration, always remember our favorite informative documentaries!