1. What Tomorrow Brings
Shot entirely in a village in Afghanistan, “What Tomorrow Brings” tells the story of teachers and students at the Zabuli School, the first school to allow for the legal education of girls in the town. Set 12 years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and declared war on the Taliban, the film by director Beth Murphy follows the girls and the educators who are seeking to teach them as the fledging school holds its first classes. The film also shows how fundamentalism is reemerging in the area, making the future of the school and the students themselves very uncertain.
2. Call Me Kuchu
Filmed by Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, this powerful documentary tells the story of David Kato, the first man in Uganda to be openly gay. The film shows how Kato bravely faced the dangers of being out and proud and gives you a feel for the activism that’s taking place in the African nation to fight for equality despite the obstacles. Although the bill that made homosexuality illegal in the country was struck down after the film was made, the fact that similar conditions exist for LGBTI individuals in more than 40 African nations makes the film a must watch.
3. 5 Broken Cameras
This film takes you inside a village located in the West Bank to see firsthand what Palestinians are confronted with on a day-to-day basis. The point of view is that of a local resident, a father of four, who originally began shooting film for home movies. He managed to capture interactions with Israeli troops that give a glimpse into what life is like in Palestine.
4. The Thin Blue Line
Although it was made in 1988, this documentary about the American court system shows how justice can easily be subverted in a country that wrongly prides itself on being a bastion of human rights. Considered a landmark in documentary film making, it’s one you can’t afford to miss if you’re interested in the abolition of the death penalty.
5. Camp 14: Total Control Zone
This heartbreaking film tells the story of Shin Dong-Huyk, a young man who was born in one of the notorious labor camps in North Korea. Now a refugee in South Korea, Dong-Huyk takes viewers on a journey into the horrific conditions of the camps that the West has been able to gain little information about due to the secrecy of the North Korean government.