These films show that despite challenges, the pursuit to change the world will always reign.
Making real, positive impact can be a daunting task. There will be detractors saying that you’re too crazy to think that you can ‘change the world’, your ideas may be met with raised eyebrows and people undermining your capabilities, and there will be, of course, actual challenges that may blindside you from time to time.
But if creating actual positive change is a purpose that you hold dear, no amount of cons and impossibilities could hinder you. When you know that your purpose is clear and your intentions are pure, there is no way that anyone or anything that can stop you from achieving your goal. The Internet is filled with articles, how-to guides, and pdf books that talk about how to achieve this. But let’s shake things up a little bit and get entertained with films instead that show the realities and the victories of change-making.
Here are five films about social change that will not only inspire you to make the world a better place, but more so inspire you to be a better person.
1. The Revolutionary Optimists
This film is about Amlan Ganguly, a lawyer who is also a social entrepreneur, who saw the injustices toward the poor by the overall legal system because of their inability to afford fees. Here, he teaches and gives children different platforms for which they can improve their lives — from using dance and theatre for polio vaccination drives to education campaigns that help lessen malaria and diarrhea cases.
2. Who Cares?
Written and directed by Mara Mourão, this Portuguese film called “Quem se Importa? (Who Cares?) shows everyday people in Brazil, Peru, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Tanzania, and the U.S. who all have one thing in common — they have all created social good projects that have been making long-lasting impact within their communities.
The film was shot in just 40 days but it already has featured social change big-shots like Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, and social change organisation Ashoka’s CEO Bill Drayton. Within the film, viewers can expect to learn and discuss themes about empathy, citizenship, ethics, and the potential of every single human being to make a difference in their respective communities no matter the field — tech, human rights, environment, and whatnot.
3. Open Heart
The film follows the story of eight Rwandan children who went to the Salam Center, a center that provides open heart surgeries to adult and children for free, without their families. Salam Center is run by an Italian-based humanitarian organisation called Emergency. The documentary shows the careless acts carried out day-to-day by people that work in this center.
Directed by Kief Davidson, he was initially just working on a documentary about Partners in Health, a non-profit organisation that addresses health issues, but upon learning the stories of the Rwandan children, he went on to dive into the world in Salam.
4. A Dream Preferred
Two Baltimore-based ice cream makers had a dream of raising $28,000 in less than a month on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. They needed help to buy an ice cream truck called “Food for Thought Truck” — “a literal vehicle for change in Baltimore’s neighbourhoods.”
The occasional turn of luck favoured the brothers, with celebrity endorsements from Russell Simmons, Shaquille O’Neal, and Whoopi Goldberg suddenly popping up, and this occurrence, critics said, will make any viewer a believer of the power of positive messages.
5. The Forbidden Education
The first Spanish film to be funded and released using crowdfunding, La Educacion Prohibida (The Forbidden Education) shares the many ways in which education practices are being innovated in Latin America and Spain. As education systems across the world are getting more obsolete, with traditional structures often lacking behind the digital currency of our times, the movie is bound to inspire viewers to reimagine education to empower children and students towards a better future.
Portia Ladrido is a multimedia journalist specialising in social justice, culture, and the arts. She is a human rights journalism fellow at the Philippine Human Rights Information Center and the Metro Manila hub coordinator of the Solutions Journalism Network. She currently writes speeches for the Philippines’ first female socialist senator. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at CNN Philippines.