University of Minnesota

Docudramas and Documentaries

Updated and edited by Mollie Smith (2002) and reproduced with permission


Amenta, Marco (director).  One Girl Against the Mafia.  Sicily:  Eurofilm, 2002.

One Girl Against the Mafia is the story of Rit Atria, a 17-year-old Sicilian girl who was the first female from a Mafia family in Sicily to break the Mafia “code of silence” and seek legal action against the murderers of her father and brother.  Because of her actions, Atria was repudiated by her mother and boyfriend, threatened, ostracized by those around her, and forced to flee to Rome. [1]

Ankele, John and Anne Macksound (director).  Arms for the Poor.  United States:  Maryknoll World Productions, 1998.

In this documentary, Ankele and Macksound seek the opinions of various experts on the destabilizing impact of the United States selling weapons to developing countries.  The film exposes how the United States exports weapons to nearly any country, regardless of the country’s human rights record. [2]

Antell, Rachel (director).  Death on a Friendly Border.  Mexico/United States, 2001.

Death on a Friendly Border shows the impact of the increased militarization by the United States of its border with Mexico, which has led to an average death toll of one person per day of those seeking entry into the U.S.  The film also captures the stories of migrants seeking new lives in the U.S., the border officials who patrol the area, and the activists fighting against the militarization of the border. [3]

Apted, Michael (director).  China: Moving the Mountain.  United States: October Films, 1995.

This film is a briskly informational overview of the aborted democracy movement in China, illustrated with footage of the 1989 mayhem in Tiananmen Square and interviews with veterans of the fight. [4]

Attenborough, Richard (director).  *Gandhi.  India/United Kingdom: Columbia/Tristar Pictures, 1992.

Gandhi is the story of the man’s life and the events that shaped his effective strategy of peaceful resistance to Britain’s rule over India.  The film begins with Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) working as a lawyer in South Africa and continues as he goes back to India and begins his life work.

Ausherman, Charles R. (director).  Violence Against Women:  A Violation of Human Rights.  Institute for Development Training, 1993.

Violence Against Women captures the testimony of women from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America before the United Nations concerning human rights violations against women.  The women testify about a variety of issues, including forced prostitution, female genital mutilation, and domestic violence.  This film is an attempt by the Institute for Development Training to bring international human rights violations against women to the attention of the international community.[5]

Band of Brothers.  United States:  HBO Home Video, 2001.

Band of Brothers is a ten-part mini-series produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and directed by ten different directors that is based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book about Easy Company, a U.S. elite paratrooper unit that fought in WWII.  The documentary shows the brutality of the war and the psychological toll it takes on the group as they participate in the D-Day invasion, fight at the Battle of the Bulge, and liberate a Nazi concentration camp.  The final piece in the series shows interviews with members of the actual Easy Company.[6]

Beresford, Bruce (director).  Paradise Road.  United States:  20th Century Fox, 1997.

Inspired by the true events captured in the autobiographical work Song of Survival:  Women Interned by Helen Colijn, Paradise Road tells the story of women interned in a Japanese prison camp in the East Indies during World War II.  The film reveals the horrors suffered by women in the camps, but also focuses on a musician within the group of prisoners who begins composing musical works from memory for the women to perform.  In the midst of torture, death, and fear, music becomes the unifying and sustaining symbol of freedom and hope for the women.

Bezijan, Nigol.  Roads Full of Apricots.  Lebanon.

Nigol’s documentary about “cultural identity shaped by a tragic history” is tied to Nigol’s own experience of being displaced from his war-torn home country.  In the film, Nigol uses images from history, literature, film, and music to show how those different mediums can trigger memories and nostalgia.  Nigol also reveals the ways in which past and present are intertwined. [7]

Brault, Brigitte. Afghanistan Unveiled. Afghanistan/France/USA. 2004

This rare and uncompromising film explores the effects on Afghani women of the Taliban's repressive rule and the U.S. sponsored bombing campaign. Except for one, none of the 14 journalist trainees were able to study or pursue careers while the Taliban was in power, and none had ever left Kabul. Afghanistan Unveiled presents heartbreaking footage from rural regions of the country-Hazara women whose lives have been decimated by recent events. Lacking water and electricity and having little or no food, the women have been left to live in caves and fend for themselves, abandoned following the U.S. invasion. Despite scenes of tragedy, the filmmakers manage to find examples of hope for the future in this poetic journey of self-discovery.

Byers, Charlotte (director).  Our Own Road.  Mexico/United States:  Peregrine Productions.

Byers captures the struggles of Mexican farmers to deal with increased poverty since the enactment of NAFTA.  Many farmers turned to raising marijuana and opium because traditional crops could not provide enough money; this change in crops has, in turn, led to increased violence due to increased drug wars and drug trafficking.  The films shows how narrator David Warner worked together with Mexican farmers to establish “low cost community-based care for hundreds of casualties” of drug-related violence and how their efforts inspired similar actions in other countries. [8]

Camerini, Michael (director). Well-Founded Fear. New York: Epidavros Project, 2000.

Well-Founded Fear is about political asylum in the United States. The film provides a close-up view of what goes on at the Asylum Office. It shows asylum officers, lawyers, translators, enterprising immigrants and refugees looking for protection, all focused on the confidential interviews that are the heart of the asylum process. **

Constatinou, Sophia (director).  Divided Loyalties.  Cyprus/United States:  True Pictures.

Divided Loyalties is a documentary on the tragic modern history of Cyprus, an island divided into Turkish North and Greek South.  The duality of Cyprus is perpetuated by the UN, Turkish, and Great Britain military presence that has established a military border zone separating the island.  This film explores the dual national identity of Cyprus, as well as the effects of colonialism, invasion, civil war, and revolution upon the island. [9]

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (director).  *Missing.  United States: Universal Pictures, 1982.

Missing is a movie based on the true story of Charles Hormer, an American journalist in Chile who disappeared mysteriously after investigating American involvement in Chile’s coup.  His wife, Beth (Sissy Spacek), and father, Ed (Jack Lemmon), attempt to locate him, but they are stonewalled by both Chilean officials and the American embassy.  During their relentless search for Charles, they discover many political secrets which Charles had known and which the U.S. and right-wing Chilean government are covering.

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (director). State of Siege.  France: Cinema 5, 1973.

A controversial and apparently true film about an American working for AID (Agency for International Development) who is kidnapped by left-wing revolutionaries in Uruguay.  The group claims that their captive has spread torture techniques to right wing governments in Uruguay and elsewhere, and they attempt to get him to confess. [10]

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (director). *Z.  France: Cinema 5, 1969.

Z is a thriller based on the true story of the 1963 assassination of Gregorios Lambrakis, a Greek liberal who stressed the importance of peace.  The government at the time was radically right-wing and did not like Lambrakis’s message or his popularity, and it looked the other way as he was murdered.  A government appointed investigator was hired, presumably to put up the appearance of a probe, but surprised everyone by exposing government cover-ups and conspiracies. [11]

Duigan, John (director).  Romero.  United States:  Four Seasons, 1989.

Romero is the true story of Archbishop Arnulfo Romero (Raul Julia), a priest assassinated in El Salvador for his liberal views and human rights activism.  The man described as a saint was killed performing a mass and his killer was never apprehended, but the murderer was suspected to have been involved with a radical right-wing group. [12]

Foster, Lilibet (director). Operation Fine Girl. United States, 2001.

Operation Fine Girl: Rape Used as a Weapon of War in Sierra Leone documents the brutal use of rape as a weapon of war in Sierra Leone. The story is told through the eyes the survivors - women and girls, as well as the child soldiers and perpetrators.

George, Terry (director). Hotel Rwanda. United States: United Artist Films, 2004.

Hotel Rwanda tells the true-life story of how Paul Rusesabagina used his position as hotel manager to house more than 1,200 Tutsis refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia amidst the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Griffin, Dan and Robin Garthwait (directors).  Missing in Tibet.  Tibet/United States:  Garthwait and Griffin Films, 1997.

          This documentary portrays the story of Nwawang Choephel.  Born in Tibet but living and studying ethnomusicology in the United States, Choephel returned to Tibet to document the traditional music and dance of the region.  While there, Choephel was arrested and sentenced to eighteen years in prison by Chinese authorities.  The film is narrated by Goldie Hawn and Peter Coyote. [13]

Griffin, Dianne and Tobi Sovang (directors).  White Hotel.  Africa/United States:  Wake Up Productions, 1996.

White Hotel is the story of two women, Griffin and Sovang, who travel with a United States HIV research team to Eritrea, Africa.  The country presents stark contrasts:  the joy of victory after thirty years of civil war with Ethiopia versus the skulls of the dead lying about and people suffering from AIDS due to widespread female circumcision and unprotected sex.  The film focuses on the many AIDS-related issues facing Eritrea and shows the emotional journey of Griffin and Sovang as they interact with the Eritrean people. [14]

Grunberg, Slawomir (director).  From Chechnya to Chernobyl.  Belarus/United States:  Bullfrog Productions, 1998.

From Chechnya to Chernobyl depicts the story of a Russian couple living in war-torn Chechnya who are willing to risk the health of themselves and their children by relocating to the radiation-filled country of Belarus in order to escape the war zone.  Belarus suffered the most detrimental effects of the Chernobyl disaster and the area was abandoned by its residents.  Incentives are now, however, being offered by local governments to get families to resettle in the area.  Slawomir shows the desperate situation and difficult choices of those living in Chechnya. [15]

Gutman, Alexander (director).  Journey Back to Youth.  Germany/Russia:  Atelier-Film-Alexander.

This documentary explores the senselessness and horror of war by revealing little known facts concerning the Second World War.  The film focuses on events occurring after the Red Army’s occupation of East Prussia and tells the story of four German girls who were raped by Soviet soldiers and forced to endure the horrors of Stalin’s camps.  While the film exposes the ways in which war dehumanizes the participants, it also shows that people can overcome the tremendous suffering caused by war and find happiness. [16]

Guzmán, Patricio (director). The Pinochet Case. New York: First Run/Icarus Films, 2001.

Winner of several awards, The Pinochet Case is a step-by-step investigation of the case against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. It traces the legal origins of the case in Spain, follows the British legal system's involvment, and incorporates testimonies of victims of Pinochet's crimes. ***

Gvardiol, Zelimir (director).  A Father, A Son, A Holy Ghost.  (Former) Yugoslavia:  Spesfilm, 1998.

 A Father, A Son, A Holy Ghost captures the haunting stories of three boys and the terrible effects of war upon their lives.  All the stories are linked by “intense loss and destruction.”  One story is of a boy who must care for his younger siblings after his stepmother is killed by his father.  The second story is of a boy traumatized by the war and his parents’ divorce.  The final story is about an unborn child affected by the war:  his father is killed in the war and the war forces his mother to give birth to him in a sewer. [17]

Haptas, John and Kris Samuelson (directors).  Riding the Tiger.  United States:  UC Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning.

This documentary explains the events leading up to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, its reasons for staying in the war, and the after-effects.  Stories from various perspectives, including Vietnamese survivors and U.S. veterans, are interspersed with the explanation of the United States’ involvement in the war.  The footage of the film was shot in the Arizona desert at the Air Force’s “boneyard” for B-52 bombers. [18]

Holzman, Allan.  Survivors of the Holocaust.  United States:  Warner Home Video, 1996.

While researching the Holocaust for Shindler’s List, Steven Spielberg interviewed several Holocaust survivors.  Inspired by their stories and realizing a need to preserve them, Spielberg established The Survivors of the Shoah Foundation, which is dedicated to collecting and preserving the stories of Holocaust survivors for future generations.  This documentary contains a few of the interviews that have been collected and offers a view of three different time periods:  life prior to the Holocaust, internment in the concentration camps, and life after liberation.

Hoffmann, Deborah; Frances Reid (directors). Long Night's Journey Into Day. United States, 2000.

This documentary tells four stories of Apartheid in South Africa, as seen through the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

Jancso, Miklos (director).  The Round-Up.  Hungary: Mafilm, 1966.

This drama is a portrayal of the "round-up" and torture of suspects by the Hungarian police after the Kossuth Rebellion of 1848.  Director Miklos Jancso was comparing these authorities to those in Hungary in his own time. [19]

Jersey, Bill (director, producer). Faces of the Enemy. United States, 1987.

Faces of the Enemy follows social psychologist Sam Keen as he unmasks how individuals and nations dehumanize their enemies to justify the inhumanity of war.

Joffe, Roland (director).  The Killing Fields.  United Kingdom: Warner Brothers Entertainment, 1984.

This film was based on the true story of a New York Times reporter who stayed in Cambodia after American evacuation and his native translator, who was imprisoned in a Khmer Rouge labor camp.

Kelly, Sean (director).  Dangerous Art.  Canada/Mozambique:  Some Productions, 2001.

Dangerous Art tells about the civil war that destroyed Mozambiquie in 1992 and left in its wake “[t]housands of guns, grenades and landmines” that still threaten those that survived the war. [20]

Kobylinska, Tassia (director).  Where Women are Banned.  Afghanistan/United Kingdom.

Where Women are Banned is a documentary in which three Afghani women who fled their home country tell about the human rights abuses they suffered in Afghanistan after the Taliban took away their freedom.  For these women, “there was no option but to flee and seek refuge in another country.” [21]

Kovacs, Andres.  Hideg napok (Cold Days).  Hungary:  Mafilm, 1966.

This docudrama focuses on the slaughter of Bosnians by Hungarian fascists during WWII, often countering the information provided in the “official” reports of the incident. [22]

Kramer, Stanley (director).  *Judgment at Nuremberg.  United States: MGM Studios, 1961.

Judgment at Nuremberg portrays the trial of German judges who were complacent to Hitler’s orders and who knowingly sent innocents to their death in concentration camps or to medical experimentation.  The film is an examination of the nature of responsibility and justice.

Lanzmann, Claude (director).  Shoah.  France: New Yorker Films, 1984.

 Shoah is a nine and a half hour documentary of the holocaust that is mainly interviews of men and women who experienced or caused the horror. [23]

Larson, Lance.  Cape Divided.  South Africa:  Kalash Films.

Cape Divided looks at South Africa’s first multiracial election, during which Nelson Mandela was elected.  The film focuses on how it was possible for the National Party – “which was responsible for the oppression of apartheid” – to overwhelmingly win the province of the Western Cape even though it is a province where whites are not the majority.  The film also looks at the future of South Africa and the issues the country will face. [24]

Lerner, Carl (director).  Black Like Me.  United States: Rhino Home Video, 1964.

Black Like Me is the story of a white journalist who paints himself black in order to expose the racial biases of mid-century America.  It is based on a true story and the novel by John Howard Griffin.

Levaco, Ronald (director).  Round Eyes in the Middle Kingdom.  China:  Trans Film and Video, 1995.

Levaco’s award-winning documentary tells the story of a Russian-Jew, Israel Epstein, who chose to stay in China when other Caucasians fled in the face of the Communist revolution.  The documentary looks at Epstein’s reasons for staying, even after he was accused of being a spy and spent five years in solitary confinement.  The film is also a means for Levaco, who was also born in China but left with his family at the time of the revolution, to reconcile his split childhood. [25]

Levy, Bernard-Henry and Alain Ferrari (director). Bosna! Bosnia-Herzegovina: Zeitgeist, 1994.

Bernard-Henry Levy's documentary compares the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Spanish Civil War. In an effort to make some historical sense of the bloody struggles that began in 1991 with the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Levy and co-director Alain Ferrari have juxtaposed archival footage of the war in Spain with scenes from the battles of what some are call the Third Balkan War. "But the resemblance between the two wars is more than visual: Levy sees both in terms of the struggle between democracy and fascism, and notes a similar, cynical indifference to incipient genocide among the major powers." [26]

Malle, Louis (director).  Alamo Bay.  United States: Tri-Star Delphi III, 1985.

The setting for Alamo Bay is the late 1970’s in Texas, a settling place of more than 15,000 Vietnamese refugees.  The refugees attempt to start a new life and many are hired by a sympathetic shrimp fisherman.  The new population, however, hurts the business of other fisherman, who attempt to drive the refugees out of the industry.  The film is a portrayal of ethnic tension and American racism. [27]

McLeod, Christopher (Project Director), In the Light of Reverence. United States: Sacred Land Film Project, 2001.

Ten years in the making, In the Light of Reverence explores American culture’s relationship to nature in three places considered sacred by native peoples: the Colorado Plateau in the Southwest, Mt. Shasta in California, and Devils Tower in Wyoming. Rich in minerals and timber and beloved by recreational users, these “holy lands” exert a spiritual gravity which pulls Native Americans into conflicts with mining companies, New Age practitioners, and rock climbers. Ironically, all sides see themselves as besieged. Their battles tell a new story of culture clashes in an ancient landscape. In the Light of Reverence juxtaposes reflections of Hopi, Wintu and Lakota elders on the spiritual meaning of place with views of non-Indians who have their own ideas about how best to use the land. The film captures the spiritual yearning and materialistic frenzy of our time.


McKiernan, Kevin (director).  Good Kurds, Bad Kurds:  No Friends But the Mountains.  Turkey/United States:  Access Productions, 2001.

This documentary exposes the United States’ different approach to human rights as to Kurds living in Turkey versus Kurds living in Iraq.  Both segments of the Kurd population are fighting for independence against the countries in which they reside.  While the United States regards the Iraqi Kurds as “good” Kurds because their fight coincides with United States’ fight against Saddam Hussein, the Turkish Kurds are considered “bad” Kurds by the United States because Turkey is a strong ally in the war against Iraq.  “The film provides the perspectives of Turkish, U.S. and European officials, as well as human rights representatives,” on the differing attitudes toward the two similarly situated Kurdish groups. [28]

McTair, Roger (director). Journey to Justice. Canada: National Film Board of Canada, 2000.

Journey to Justice charts the little-known history of Canada's civil rights movement, profiling several Canadians who led the fight for equality from the 1930s until the 1950s. ****

Melton, Patricia Smith (director). Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines. United States, 2003.

This feature-length documentary, narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange, premiered at the United Nations in 2003. It celebrates the unheralded work of women peace builders worldwide. Filmed in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Argentina and the US, this documentary takes viewers into the lives of courageous women working to build peace out of conflict and crisis.

Metcalf, Charlotte (director).  Welcome to Womanhood.  Uganda:  Bullfrog Productions, 1998.

In this documentary, Metcalf returns to Uganda to see if the UN Population Fund’s REACH program, which seeks to offer alternative initiation ceremonies to female circumcision, has succeeded. [29]

Moore, Michael (director).  Bowling For Columbine.  United States:  United Artists, 2002.

Bowling For Columbine is a “humorous and horrifying look at firearms abuse” in the United States.  Moore shows his audience the security tapes of the Columbine tragedy, takes them inside NRA President Charlton Heston’s house, and shocks them with a story of a six-year-old girl murdered by another six-year-old child. [30]

Mylan, Megan (director). Lost Boys of Sudan. United States: Actual Films/ Principe Productions, 2003.

Lost Boys of Sudan is a feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. Orphaned as young boys in one of Africa's cruelest civil wars, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor survived lion attacks and militia gunfire to reach a refugee camp in Kenya along with thousands of other children. From there, remarkably, they were chosen to come to America. Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, a world away from home, they find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia.

The Nazis:  Witness to Genocide.  MPI Home Video, 1996.

The Nazis:  Witness to Genocide is a documentary that pieces together actual footage of the WWII concentration camps that the Nazis filmed themselves in order to document the progress of Hitler’s plan to annihilate the Jews and other “undesirables.” [31]

Niagolova, Mira (director).  Trafficking Cinderella.  Canada:  Miran Productions, 2001.

Trafficking Cinderella documents the growing problem of Eastern European women being trafficked and forced into prostitution in Western Europe and North America since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  The film includes the testimonies of Eastern European women who have experienced first-hand the horrors of trafficking and forced prostitution. [32]

Niccol, Andrew (director). Lord of War. USA: Lions Gate Films, 2005.

Lord of War, a film starring Academy Award-Winner Nicolas Cage that illustrates the deadly impact of the uncontrolled global arms trade.

Njemoga-Kolar, Ana (director).  An American Dream in Nizny Hrabovec.  Slovakia:  Slovenska TV.

This documentary tells the story of a young Slovakian gypsy man who wants to bridge the gap between the gypsy population and the general population in a village by establishing a group to perform both gypsy and non-gypsy dances.  The film reveals the “problematic relationship” between Slovakian gypsies and the rest of the population, as well as one man’s dream of unity. [33]

Ophuls, Marcel (director).  The Sorrow and the Pity.  France/Switzerland/Germany: Cinema 5/Columbia Pictures, 1970.

The Sorrow and the Pity is a documentary on German-occupied France during WWII and the motives and actions of the people who lived through it.  Ophuls depicts the victims, perpetrators, and collaborators of the period in a detailed, serious style. [34]

Ousmane, Sembene (director). Moolade. USA: New Yorker Films, 2002.

This Senagelese-directed film focuses on female genital mutilation and the place of this cultural practice in the lives of men and women in a small village.

Parker, Alan (director).  *Mississippi Burning.  United States: Orion Pictures, 1989.

This is a film based on the true story of the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964.  The story revolves around two FBI agents, played by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, who investigate the disappearances and uncover one small town’s vitriolic racism.  It is a portrait of American race relations in the not too distant past.

Polak, Hanna; Andrzej Celinski (directors). The Children of Leningradsky. USA: HBO, 2005.

An intimate portrait of children living in Moscow train stations, The Children of Leningradsky explores the overwhelming crisis of homeless children in Russia. Sleeping in stairways, garbage containers and underground tunnels, they panhandle or prostitute themselves for money. They sniff glue to curb hunger and to escape from the violent world around them. Yet many of them consider life on the streets a better alternative to what they experienced at home.

Polanski, Roman (director).  The Pianist.  Poland:  Focus, 2002.

The Pianist tells the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, an accomplished Polish concert pianist and composer.  The film focuses on how Szpilman used music to help him survive the horrors of the Holocaust he witnessed while hiding in a Warsaw ghetto.  Szpilman wrote of his experiences in Death of a City and the book inspired Polanski, also a Holocaust survivor, to create The Pianist. [35]

Raymont, Peter (director). Shake Hands With the Devil: Rwanda , 1994- 2004. United States, 2004.

As the world sat back in silence, over 800,000 men, women and children were killed in a devastating genocidal war. Canadian General Roméo Dallaire returns to the war-torn country in this haunting, Sundance award-winning documentary film.

Reid, Frances and Deborah Hoffman (directors).  Long Night’s Journey Into Day.  South Africa/United States:  IRIS FILMS, 2000.

This documentary provides an insight into the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in South Africa.  Four different stories are captured.  The first is the story of a U.S. student who was murdered during a 1993 riot in Cape Town and her parents’ incredible capacity for forgiveness.  Another story tells of the murder of two South African teachers by South African security forces, and the struggles the victims’ wives had in facing and forgiving the murderers.  In documenting each story, Reid and Hoffman provide interviews of both the perpetrators and the victims’ families and friends in an attempt to reveal the complexity of the situation in South Africa both during and after apartheid, as well as the struggles with guilt, anger, and forgiveness faced by all those involved. [36]

Reiner, Rob (director).  *Ghosts of Mississippi.  United States: Castlerock Entertainment, 1996.

This film is a narrative based on the 1963 murder of Civil Rights leader Medger Evers and the struggle to convict his killer, Byron de la Beckwith.  The film shows the efforts of Bobby Delaughter, a Mississippi district attorney, to convict Beckwith, whose two previous trials had ended in suspicious hung juries.

Resnais, Alain (director).  Night and Fog.  France: Janus Films, 1956.

Night and Fog is a powerful holocaust documentary.  Resnais uses real footage of concentration camps, Hitler’s speeches, and other documentation during the war and contrasts it with shots of the insides of the camps empty.  He shows horrific images of people being herded off to the gas chambers, the fingernail scratches they left on the ceilings trying to escape, human selection processes, and corpses being mutilated or shoveled into mass graves.  Resnais documents, too, that these horrors will come again and again if people do not watch.  He produces evidence of the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man, and this is perhaps the scariest part of his work. [37]

Ripper, Velcrow (director).  In the Company of Fear.  Colombia:  Reel-Myth Productions, Inc, 1999.

This documentary focuses on the use of the policy of “protective accompaniment” in Colombia.  “Protective accompaniment” is a non-violent method of dealing with human rights abuses where “foreign volunteers of Peace Brigade International offer human rights activists the unarmed protection of an international presence.”  Political analyst Noam Chomsky is featured in the film. [38]

Riklis, Eran (director).  Borders.  Israel:  Powersports Millennium International, 1999.

Borders depicts the relationship of Israel and its neighbors.  The documentary explores what the term “borders” means in that war-torn area through the stories of various people:  a women whose wedding will separate her from her family; families torn apart by disputes over land; farmers; and border officials.  The film captures a variety of opinions about the power struggles faced daily by those living in the Middle East. [39]

Rogers, Gerry (director). The Vienna Tribunal. USA: Augusta Productions, 1994.

The Vienna Tribunal is a documentary of the 1993 international human rights conference at which women from around the world presented powerful personal testimonies about violations of women's human rights.

Rogosin, Lionel (director).  Come Back, Africa.  South Africa: Distributor, 1960.

This docudrama follows a Zulu family taken from its home and put in an urban area.  Rigosin shot the film with hidden cameras in order to get past government restrictions.  The film exposes the oppressive nature and human rights abuses of the white apartheid government in South Africa and a government similar to others around the world. [40]

Rosenblatt, Jay (director).  Human Remains.  United States:  Locomotion Films, 1998.

Director Jay Rosenblatt portrays the personal and psychological side of the lives of five 20th century dictators:  Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Franciso Franco, and Mao Tse Tung.  Avoiding any reference to the public or historical significance of these men, Rosenblatt shows the “private and mundane details of their everyday lives,” and “addresses the horrors for which these men were responsible from a novel angle.”  Human Remains has won 26 awards, including an award at the Sundance Film Festival. [41]

Ross, Steven (director). Liberia: A Fragile Peace. United States. 2006.

“Liberia: A Fragile Peace” tells the story of a war weary people’s struggle to rebuild their nation. This timely film goes behind the headlines to explore what really happened to this nation founded by former American slaves, and to realistically appraise the hopes and fears about what may happen there next. As Liberia tries to refute a quarter century of bloodshed, corruption, and collapse, the film tells its story with a stunning diversity of perspectives, voices, and personal experiences.

Sève, de Jim (director). Tying the Knot. United States: Outcast Films, 2004.

Tying the Knot is a documentary on same-sex marriage that captures the human side of the political war being waged in the United States today. It is a collection of true stories that bring home the reality of the struggle that same-sex partners face as they fight for their basic civil rights.

Sharma, Rakesh (director). Final Solution. India: 2003.

Set in Gujarat, India between February 2002 and July 2003, Final Solution examines the aftermath of the deadly violence that followed the burning of 58 Hindus on the Sabarmati Express train at Godhr a on February 27, 2002. In "reaction" to that incident, some 2,500 Muslims were brutally murdered, hundreds of women raped, and more than 200,000 families driven from their homes.

Singleton, Jon (director).  Rosewood.  United States:  Warner Brothers, 1997.

Based on actual events, Rosewood is a docudrama that portrays the little known story of a 1923 incident in Florida in which many African Americans were murdered and the town of Rosewood was destroyed.  Based upon a lie by a white woman that she had been raped by a black stranger, many of the men in Rosewood were hunted down by the woman’s white neighbors and shot or lynched.  In the midst of the chaos, the residents of Rosewood, both black and white, display incredible courage in their efforts to help those around them escape the rampage. [42]

Sonneborn, Barbara, Janet Cole, Ken Schneider, and Lucy Massie Phenix (directors).  *Regret to Inform.  Vietnam/United States:  Sun Fountain Productions.

This film shows the devastation of the Vietnam War through the eyes of Vietnamese and U.S. widows, a point-of-view that was previously unseen.  The film was nominated for the 1999 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary and won the Indie Spirit Award at the Sundance Film Festival. [43]

Spielberg, Steven (director).  *Amistad.  United States: Dreamworks SKG, 1997.

Amistad is the true story of an 1839 slave uprising on a Spanish slave ship Amistad.  The slaves, newly captured from Africa, direct the two surviving crew members to return them to Africa, but the Spaniards trick them and the Amistad lands in America.  There they are put on trial which in turn becomes a far-reaching philosophical debate.  The case is eventually taken to the Supreme Court, where John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) gives an impassioned argument on the Africans’ behalf.  The film is an account of the range and justice of the American legal system and the essential paradox that such a system could exist in tandem with the horrors of slavery.

Stack, Jonathan; James Brabazon (directors). Liberia : An Uncivil War. United States, 2004.

Liberia: an Uncivil War follows a rebel army made up of indigenous Liberians intent on overthrowing the government of then-President Charles Taylor.

Stevens, George Jr. (director).  Separate But Equal.  United States: Republic Pictures, 1991.

Separate But Equal is a film portrayal of the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which brought down the educational segregation system in the 1950s.

Trope, Tzipi (director).  Close and Far Away.  Israel:  Israel Film Service, 2000.

Close and Far Away explores the conflict between the Israelis and Arabs through the eyes of two childhood friends and brothers-in law, Riad and Yosef.  The documentary shows the diverging dreams and lives of the two men.  Riad wants to be a director and opens a photo shop, while Yosef fights with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is sentenced to fifteen years in jail, and later becomes part of a political movement called Sons of the Village. [44]

Wajda, Andrzej (director).  Korczak.  France/Germany/Poland: New Yorker, 1990.

Korczak is a portrayal of Janusz Korczak, a Polish doctor who established a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw and later moved it to one of the ghettos during the Nazi occupation rather than give it up. [45]

Wali, Monona (director).  Maria’s Story.  United States: Channel 4, 1991.

Maria’s Story is a documentary about Maria Serrano and her comrades in El Salvador, who are fighting against the US-backed Salvadoran army for land reform, human rights, and an end to government oppression.  Maria and her fellow guerilla fighters want a society where everyone receives an education, has enough resources to survive, and works together. [46]

Winterfilm Collective (directors).  Winter Soldier.  United States:  Winterfilm Collective, 1972.

This award-winning documentary “captures the terrifying testimonies of more than 200 ex-GIs at the 1971 Detroit Winter Soldier Investigation concerning American atrocities in Vietnam.”  Critics proclaim Winter Soldier to be a powerful film that the public should see, but it was largely ignored by the American press and film distributors at the time of its release in the 1970’s. [47]

Yarovskaya, Marianna (director).  Undesirables.  Russia/United States:  University of Southern California, 1999.

Undesirables tells the story of the deportation of homeless youths from Moscow by the Russia Police Force during the summer of 1998 in order to rid Moscow of tramps and beggars before the International Youth Olympics.  The documentary shows Moscow’s juvenile detention center, where youths are kept during events, and focuses on five youths who face varying fates, including being returned to reform school or to abusive parents. [48]

York, Steve (director). Bringing Down a Dictator. United States: York Zimmerman Inc., 2002.

Bringing Down a Dictator is the story of a nonviolent democratic movement that defeated the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia through free elections and massive civil disobedience. [49]


*Indicates Academy Award win or nomination  

** Based on the synopsis provided at the Epidavros Project:

*** Based on the synopsis provided at the First Run/Icarus Films site,

**** Based on the summary at


[1] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[2] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[3] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[4] Based on the review from

[5] Based on the review by Amazon:

[6] Based in part on the review by Amazon:

[7] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[8] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[9] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[10] Based on the reviews in "Cinemania 96."  Microsoft, 1996 [CD-ROM]

[11] Based on the review from

[12] Based on the review from

[13] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[14] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[15] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[16] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[17] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[18] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[19] Based on the synopsis by Hal Erickson on the All-Movie Guide:

[20] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[21] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[22] Based on the synopsis by Hal Erickson on the All-Movie Guide:

[23] Based on the review from

[24] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[25] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[26] Based on the review from

[27] Based on the review from

[28] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[29] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[30] Based on the synopsis provided by the Yahoo! Movies website:

[31] Based on the review by Amazon:

[32] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[33] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[34] Based on the review from

[35] Based on the synopsis and review provided by Professor David Weissbrodt and by the Yahoo! Movies website:

[36] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[37] Based on the review from

[38] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[39] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[40] Based on the synopsis by Hal Erickson on the All-Movie Guide:

[41] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[42] Based in part on the synopsis by Michael P. Rogers on the All-Movie Guide:

[43] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[44] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[45] Based on the synopsis by Jason Ankeny on the All-Movie Guide:

[46] Based on the review from

[47] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[48] Based on the synopsis provided at the United Nations Associations Film Festival website:

[49] Based on the synopsis provided at the PBS website:


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