The 8 best Changemaker movies

Here are our 8 favourite movies that both help us learn about injustices in the world, and inspire us to change them. These movies are great to watch as a group, so you can discuss the issue both during and after the movie.

These films had to meet 3 criteria
1. There’s a clear issue, or injustice brought to light in the movie
2. One or more people in the movie are fighting the injustice.
3. Movie not documentary.

In no particular order…

1. Pride – Worker’s right/discrimination
Feel good all the way home. A true, unlikely, heartwarming story where the LGBT community bands together to help miners during their strike.
Con: A bit light and fluffy

lesbians and gays support the miners

2. Lincoln – Slavery
Daniel Day Lewis’ Oscar winning performance as the force behind abolition of slavery in America. Shines light on the mechanics of changemaking. Collaboration vs. Fight. Pragmatism vs Idealism. How low are you willing to go to get the job done?
Con: Dialogue heavy and a little slow. Similar to ‘Ghandi’. Epics are sometimes like that.

3. Made in Dagenham – Women’s rights
True story about a factory worker who took on big business and government to fight for equal pay with men for women throughout England. Lots of fun moments, also believable and hard-hitting.
Con: Perhaps a little bit predictable, but then it is a true story

4. Blood Diamond – Diamond trade

Leonardo cranks out a ‘quality’ Zimbabwe accent in this super Hollywood flick. He’s not the hero though that’s for sure. You’ll never look at your diamond ring the same way again.
Con: The script could have been better. Cheesy and unbelievable at times.


5. Spotlight – Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
An intelligent depiction of a true story about journalists who made a difference. Made me want to be a journalist. For about 5 minutes. Won Oscar for best film 2 years ago.
Con: A little bit dry. Zero action, comedy and romance. Nothing explodes. Tessa says those are pros.

6. Lord of War – Small Arms trade
Action packed Hollywood blockbuster with yours truly Nicholas Cage. Tells the story of the disastrous small arms trade, where rich countries profit from poor country’s wars. You’ll be hooked after the fantastic first scene. This movie is underrated, and I love it a little too much.
Con: Isn’t really that good a movie. Still its my favourite.

7. Ghandi – Colonial Oppression
Quality 8 Oscar winning epic about the man who organized people like no other, to drive the British out of India.
Con: You’ll need to forgive that a white guy plays Ghandi. They weren’t even thinking about that back in 1982! Make a lot of popcorn, Its over 3 hours long.

8. The Help – Racial injustice
You can’t lose with this one. A product of their love and care, ‘Emma Stone’ bands together with African American house workers to expose their mistreatment by white housewives to the world. Lots of laughs, lots of tears.
Con: Some criticise its “white saviour” narrative. I’ve seen worse

The help

Bonus 9th: Selma – Racial Equality (Thanks Caleb)
Martin Luther King’s story needs no introduction. The Selma March is one of the most incredible events of our time, and if you’re not from America, you may find it hard to believe that it could even happen.
Con: Its not the best quality movie ever. More people should make movies about this story!

Feel free to add your own suggestions. We’d love to watch some changemaking movies we’ve never heard of.

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9 Responses to The 8 best Changemaker movies

  1. arowhenua says:

    Would add:
    Gardening With Soul – NZ Documentary/film about a Wellington Nun and her ‘ordinary’ life
    Same Kind of Different as Me – American, true story of an encounter between a long-time homeless man and a commercial art seller (not out in NZ until October)

  2. calebmorgan says:

    Good list!

    Some others I love:

    Do The Right Thing
    Short Term 12
    The Big Short
    Get Out
    Fruitvale Station
    Dear White People
    Paths of Glory
    All Quiet on the Western Front
    The Grand Illusion

    • ntlaing says:

      Wow that’s amazing thanks heaps movie man, we’ll have to get hold of some of those we haven’t seen as soon as possible. So great, we just ran out of movies here too… I’ll add Selma to the list since you’re that convinced. We only left it off because we thought the quality of the film didn’t quite do justice to one of the all time great changemaker stories! On the other hand quality wise we just watched ‘I am not your Negro’ which blew our minds and we thought should have won the Oscar not only for best documentary but even best film! We need more Martin Luther King movies. I don’t think Moonlight and the Big short meet criteria 2.

    • calebmorgan says:

      I was blown away by Selma the first time, watching it in the theatre in the US, but I think mostly because of the significance of the story and the history that directly affected the lives of people who were in the theatre. Watched it for a second time recently and was really impressed with the quality of the writing, directing, and acting, as well as how spiritual it is. It only tells the story of one part of MLK’s life and one part of the life of the civil rights movement but I personally think it does it really well. It’s sad that this is one of the only movies that’s been made about MLK.

      • ntlaing says:

        Wow maybe I should watch it again… There definitely need to be more movies about MLK. I don’t get at all why there aren’t. The way the oscars go these days with that topic matter you could win even if the movie again wasn’t great (like Moonlight) – especially if one of the other main characters was a journalist 😀

  3. calebmorgan says:

    They all meet criteria 1 and 3 but some of them are disputable on criteria 2.

    But I think the priest in On the Waterfront would qualify as a changemaker.

    There’s also Milk.

    • ntlaing says:

      Wow got to watch those. Surprised we haven’t seen Milk before. Not surprised about On the Waterfront – 1954 is generally a bit off our radar :p

  4. calebmorgan says:

    Selma is probably the “changemaker” movie i’d most recommend. I watched it again recently and was overcome with the thought that all Christian young adult or youth groups should watch it and talk about what we can learn from it.

    OK 3 comments is more than enough from me 🙂

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