Movie night. Sometimes it feels good to kick back with your favorite rom-com and eat a bowl of popcorn. But sometimes, you want to watch something that will inform you, inspire you and even provoke you. For those moments, a documentary is just the thing. Far from sleep-inducing, documentaries today often hold your attention and build excitement better than a generic action movie. The following titles are all political in nature, aiming to teach us (and sway us) towards new perspectives on war, democracy, gender and education. Check out the video clips for each film, and then challenge yourself by digging into one of these worthwhile topics.
ReGeneration (2010): “Hey girl, let’s snuggle by the fire and talk politics.” Okay, all Gosling memes aside, this is an incredibly poignant look at teens and young people today—and their apparent lack of political interest. Produced and narrated by Ryan Gosling, this film takes an in-depth look at the cause of that political apathy, comparing today’s youth to those in the 1960’s who definitely had a cause worth fighting for.
Miss Representation (2011): Ever wonder why the positions of power and influence in our nation are still monopolized by men? Yeah, us too. Ever get a little ticked when you think about it? Yeah, us too. This documentary examines why women are still underrepresented in those positions of power, and zones in on the media as a big-time culprit. The film is chock full of appearances by powerhouse women ranging from Katie Couric to Condoleezza Rice who comment on the myriad ways women (even those in powerful roles) are demeaned and devalued.
Restrepo (2010): Ever wonder what the day-to-day life of soldiers in Afghanistan was like? This critically acclaimed Oscar nominee follows soldiers stationed in Afghanistan from their deployment to their return home. At least one dangerous mission is documented, so be ready for an intense experience if you watch this one.
Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden (2013): If you liked Zero Dark Thirty, give this documentary a shot. Presented in a less “Hollywood” style, we particularly like how this doc highlights the “sisterhood” of women CIA agents who worked tirelessly on the intel that led to Bin Laden’s capture (and who inspired Jessica Chastain’s character in ZDT).
American Promise (2013): Education may not seem like a political issue, but factor in race and achievement, and political it most certainly is. This new documentary follows two African-American boys in New York City, one at the prestigious Dalton School, the other at an all-black private school. Tracking their development for a full 13 years, the film raises questions about race, testing, and the connection between education and a young person’s future.
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