Issues

10 Human Rights Movies Everyone Should See

Set in Italy in the 1930s, Life is Beautiful follows the story of Guido, a light-hearted Jewish bookkeeper who marries and has a child with a woman he loves. After a short yet blissful life together, his family becomes victims of the Holocaust. Thrown into a gruesome concentration camp, Guido strives to do everything that he can to keep his family together and protect his son during those horrific times; he imagines that the Holocaust is actually a game to be played and that the prize for winning the harrowing game comes in the form of a tank.

Set in 1997, The Uncondemned is a story about the prosecution of the very first case of genocide in history that began at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. At the heart of the story is a group of young activists from all over the world, led by a 27-year-old graduate of Columbia Law School and a 31-year-old deputy district attorney from Los Angeles. Together with hardly any supplies or guidelines, the small group of courageous women tackles many obstacles on their way to pushing for charges for rape as a crime of war.

Incendies follows the story of twins named Simon and Jeanne as they make a journey to the Middle East where their family originates. They aim to learn about the history of their family to fulfill the last wishes of their late mother, wishes that they discover upon opening her will. Adapted from an acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad, this is a moving tale of the journey of two young people to a land filled with deeply set hatred, wars that never seem to end and the power of a love that endures it all.

Set in the 1990s during the Rwandan crisis, Hotel Rwanda is the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina who took in more than one thousand Tutsi refugees. These refugees were fleeing from the Rwandan Hutu militia, the group responsible for the brutal murders of over one million people in the country. While the rest of the world was kept in the dark on the matter or chose to turn the other cheek, the brave and determined hotelier invoked great courage to help save the lives of helpless refugees from the brutalized country by keeping them all safe in his hotel.

Five-time Oscar nominee Blood Diamond is a story that follows a man named Archer who has a troubled family history. Determined to survive his hardships, he becomes a major player in the business of conflict diamonds. The citizens of Sierra Leone where the film takes place are warring desperately with one another during this time, causing double the trouble for those who want to get their hands on a priceless diamond which has found itself in the hands of Archer’s business. Archer eventually meets two people who end up changing his life for the better as he gets the chance to make peace with the conflict surrounding him.

Anne Frank is a film adaptation of the diary that young Anne Frank, a Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Holland, kept during her time in hiding when she moves into a secret annex with her family along with other Jews trying to escape the grip of the Nazis. The account is told from Anne Frank’s perspective and tells a story of true family bonds in trying times along with Anne’s transition from girlhood into motherhood while stuck in hiding. Ultimately, Anne and her family get arrested in 1944 and shipped off to concentration camps where they were separated from one another forever.

The Killing Fields is a story that surrounds Sydney Schanberg, a journalist trapped in Cambodia during the notorious “Year Zero” cleansing carried out by the tyrant, Pol Pot. This “cleansing” brutally took the lives of over two million citizens considered to be “undesirable.” Living in Cambodia to cover the civil war, Schanberg works with a local representative named Dith Pran to get all of the news on the event. Pran sends his family away from the country when the American forces withdraw, but stays behind and fights to get away from the grip of the cleansing alongside his American counterpart.

Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing tale that surrounds the life of a child soldier named Agu. Agu is a young boy who has been forced to fight in a war in a fictional West African country. Agu’s youth is ruined by both his participation in battle and his fear of his commander and the men he fights alongside. This film unapologetically shows the different mechanics and components of war and makes no attempt to hide the explicit, gruesome details to paint an intricate, and at times, hard to watch picture of the life of a child soldier.

Set just over ten years after the end of racial segregation in America, Selma, an Oscar-winning film, documents a harrowing and difficult three-month time frame in 1965. During this time, Dr. Martin Luther King led a brave yet dangerous campaign against the racist, violent opposition that aimed to trample equal voting rights for all. Detailing the famous march from Selma to Montgomery that ultimately got the President to sight the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this story chronicles one of the most important victories that the civil rights movement ever had.

In the film Houligan Sparrow, Ye Haiyan, known as Sparrow, traveled to the Hainan Province to seek justice for elementary school girls who were abused sexually by their principal. She knew she was facing a number of terrible obstacles. These included things like harassment, state surveillance and even possible imprisonment. Still, she persisted, even as the intense reaction to her presence ended in a relentless pursuit of the woman and shocked activists all over China. Chased from town to town by the national secret police and local governments, this moving story follows Sparrow on her tireless quest for justice.

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Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) aims to help human rights students, recent graduates and young professionals to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of human rights.