Peace and Justice Films

Conflict Resolution

Beyond Zero Tolerance: Restorative Practices in Schools.
By the International Institute of Restorative Practices, 2006.  In this video, students, teachers and administration speak candidly about restorative justice and the effects it has had on their schools. 27 minutes.

The Boys of Baraka
By Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2005. Documentary of twenty "at risk" youth from inner-city Baltimore who left home to attend 7th and 8th grade at  Baraka, an experimental boarding school in Kenya. The film zeros in on kids that society has given up on, but who refuse to be "throw-aways.” 
It Ain’t Love
By Susan Todd and Andrew Young, 1997. This film provides a striking look into the intense world of teenagers and violence with a focus on the importance of dialogue and communication.
School Violence: Answers from the Inside
By Castle Works Studios, 1999. This film takes you inside a suburban high school and helps students and teachers explore creative ways they can deal with conflict in their schools. PBS also provides lessons plans and discussion guides. Grades 7-12.
The Worst School I’ve Ever Been To
By the Institute for Restorative Practices. An instructional documentary on restorative justice and an emotionally moving story about working to change behavior and achieving goals. 62 minutes. 
Whose Streets? Our Streets!
The True Face of Youth Activism. By the Educational Video Center, 2003. A documentary workshop where youth producers encourage their peers to become active in their communities. 20 minutes. 


International Conflict

Invisible Children
By Laren Poole and Jason Russell, 2006. Motivated by the unseen war in Northern Uganda, Invisible Children was created by three young filmmakers with a singular mission: To use the power of stories to change lives around the world.
By M. Mylan, and J. Shenk, 2003. This documentary follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. A 55-minute version of the film is available for teachers with a discussion guide and lesson plans. 
Musicians in the War Zone
Features Sarah McLachlan, Chantel Kreviazak, David Usher and others heading into war zones of various countries and responding to what they see and learn.
By B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro, and Carlos Bolado, 2002. Through the stories of seven children living in diverse areas of Israel/Palestine, the filmmakers interweave the complex political and geographic history of this region of the Middle East. 106 minutes.
Voices in Wartime
By Rick King, 2005. This education   project is aimed at healing the wounds of war and creating a less violent world. This documentary creates a dialogue in which all voices can be heard, and all points of view included, without engendering fear, hatred, or anger. 74 minutes.

International Justice Mechanisms

The Reckoning 
(Pamela Yates, Paco de Onis and Peter Kinoy, 2009).  This documentary provides a behind-the-scenes view of the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Featured prominently in this film is the Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as well as members of his staff, as the viewer gets a good feel for the legal and political intricacies of the ICC’s work. 

Carla’s List 
(Marcel Schupbach, 2006).  Similar to “The Reckoning,” Carla’s List intends to provide a fly-on-the-wall account of the life and work of Carla Del Ponte during the time when she was the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. 

Long Night’s Journey Into Day 
(Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, 2000).  This moving film offers an insightful look into the workings of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  The viewer is exposed to a wide-range of individuals – some human rights victims and some human rights violators. 

Milosevic on Trial 
(Michael Christoffersen, 2007).  A documentary on the trial before the ICTY of Slobodan Milosevic.

My Neighbor, My Killer 
(Anne Aghlon, 2009).  Focusing on one small hamlet in Rwanda, Aghlon’s camera tells the story of the victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide and the role of the gacaca courts in bringing justice and closure. 

Pray the Devil Back to Hell 
(Gini Retlicker, 2008).  A group of women decide to take matters in their own collective hands to bring peace to Liberia. 

The Dictator Hunter 
(Klaartje Quirijns, 2007).  Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch is the protagonist of this film as it follows his dogged efforts to push the international community to bring criminal charges against Hisène Habré, the former president of Chad.  

Judgment at Nuremberg 
(Stanley Kramer, 1961).  This is a classic movie with some of the biggest Hollywood stars, including Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster.  The film focuses on the prosecution of four Nazi judges for war crimes.  Judgment at Nuremberg very effectively raises the issue of the relationship between the law and larger notions of “justice.” 


Peace and Justice Movements

 Bringing Down a Dictator. By Steve York, 2002. Documentary of the 2000 student-led non-violent overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic.

A Force More Powerful
By P. Ackerman and S. York, 2001. This series documents in six 30 minute segments some recent nonviolent movements, including the Civil Rights movement, Gandhi's nonviolence in India, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and more. 

A Time for Justice
By Teaching Tolerance, 1994. Probably the best single short documentary, among many, of the Civil Rights movement. Produced for the Teaching Tolerance Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

By John Briley and Richard Attenborough (Director), 1982. Biography of Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest. 180 minutes.

By John Duigan, 1989. Documentary about Oscar Romero, known as the “Bishop of the Poor,” who opposed, at great risk, the repression in El Salvador. 102 minutes.

Scout’s Honor
By Tom Shepard and Meg Moritz, 2001. The project traces the conflict between the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America and the broad-based movement by many of its members to overturn them.


War in Iraq and Afghanistan

Dudar, 2004. A project of Veterans for Peace. This documentary features 105 interviews with young soldiers who have been to Iraq who talk about their experiences there, as well as family members whose sons died in Iraq. 74 minutes. 

Iraq in Fragments 
(James Longley, 2006).  
This movie is a visually stunning kaleidoscope of what life is like for several Iraqi civilians, including the lives of two young boys, after the American invasion.

No End in Sight 
(Charles Ferguson, 2007).  The viewer is already well aware of the duplicity, the incompetence, the hubris and the enormous levels of human suffering caused by the war in Iraq, but this film focuses on the period from January to May 2003 to explain how and why we ended up with this result. 

My Country, My Country 
(Laura Poitras, 2006).  The 2005 national elections in Iraq serve as the central grounding for this film.  The protagonist is the remarkable Dr. Riyadh who is everywhere and everyman.  Riyadh is a member of the Baghdad City Council and a fearless defender and protector of those caught up in the mayhem and violence of the war.  Yet, perhaps the most effective scenes are those filmed at his home, as we see a “typical” Iraqi family attempting to maintain a “normal” existence amidst the abnormality that surrounds them.

Pulled From the Rubble 
(Margaret Loescher, 2004).  This film is about a remarkably brave man, Gil Loescher, who was the only survivor of the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 that killed, among others, UN official Sergio de Mello.  The film, directed by Loescher’s daughter, focuses on his physical and mental rehabilitation.  What helps to spur this double amputee on is his family, but also the decades of work he has done with refugees – people who have taught him the meaning of courage and perseverance. 

Road to Guantanamo 
(Michael Winterbottom, 2005).  This film presents the story of the “Tipton Three,” three British Muslim men who traveled to Afghanistan for fun and wound up being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The film blurs the line between what is “real” and what is not, as it combines actual documentary footage of interviews with the three former detainees with re-created scenes. 

Standard Operating Procedure 
(Errol Morris, 2008).  By the director of “The Thin Blue Line” and “Fog of War,” this video challenges the viewer to re-think whether the infamous pictures at Abu Ghraib tell us the “true” story about what happened there.  The interviews with those who carried out the “torture” are marvelously revealing, whether purposeful or not. 

Taxi to the Dark Side 
(Alex Gibney, 2007).  The movie explores the American practice of torture by focusing on the killing of an innocent Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base.  Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The Hurt Locker 
(Kathryn Bigelow, 2009).  This extraordinarily tense drama follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of Bravo company, which engages in explosive ordnance disposal in Iraq.  The protagonist (of sorts) is William James, whose cowboy-like ways wins him both the admiration and the hatred of his fellow soldiers. 

USA v. Al-Arian 
(Line Halvorsen, 2007).  This is a spellbinding film that covers the case of a University of South Florida professor who is accused of providing “material support” to Palestinian terrorists.  Just when it seems that the situation for the defendant and his family could not get worse, he is essentially forced to plead guilty – to charges that he has already been acquitted of by a jury in Tampa.  This is a deeply disturbing and moving film that makes the term Kafkaesque seem inadequate.

Why We Fight 
(Eugene Jarecki, 2006).  The title comes from Frank Capra’s propaganda films for the U.S. government during World War II.  The most useful aspect of this film is that it places the latest American foreign intervention in Iraq into a much broader historical context.



The Last Just Man 
(Steven Silver, 2001).  The person alluded to in the title is Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide. Dallaire remains haunted by his own personal failure and the institutional failure of the United Nations to prevent these atrocities. 

 Hotel Rwanda 
(Terry George, 2004).  This true life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who saved the lives of over a thousand Tutsis, is the Hollywood version of the Rwandan genocide.

Sometimes in April 
(Raoul Peck, 2005).  This is the “other” film about the Rwandan genocide, starring a cast of African actors and centered on the relationship of two brothers, one who is involved with the Hutu genocide and the other who is married to a Tutsi woman.

The Devil Came on Horseback 
(Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, 2006).  This film is told through the eyes of Marine Captain Brian Steidle, a former American military officer who served on a peacekeeping mission in the Sudan and whose photographs were in large part responsible for alerting the international community to the atrocities taking place in that country.


The Holocaust

Schindler’s List 
(Steven Spielberg, 1993).  
Academy Award winning film remains unmatched in terms of its ability to convey the horror of the Holocaust.  The film focuses on Oskar Schindler, who at the beginning of the film is a man on the make (both in terms of money and women) with extensive business dealings with the Nazi regime.  Schindler slowly becomes transformed and he ends up risking his life and his fortune to save the lives of his Jewish workers. 

Night and Fog 
(Alain Resnais, 1955).  This stark and unsparing documentary released in the mid-1950s provided the broader public indelible images of the horrors of the “Final Solution.” 

(Claude Lanzmann, 1985).  This nine hour documentary is a series of interviews with people who were involved in the Holocaust or affected by it – as well as those who still deny knowing that it was happening right in front of them.  

Sophie’s Choice 
(Alan J. Pakula, 1982). This film is not about the Holocaust as such, but about a Holocaust survivor (Meryl Streep) who is faced with making two impossible decisions in her life.  What makes the film so terribly effective is that the enormous crimes of the Nazis can be seen in both of these. 

The Pianist 
(Roman Polanski, 2002).  Adrien Brody was given the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman who repeatedly escaped death in his native Poland during World War II.