University of Minnesota

Fictional Film

Updated and edited by Mollie Smith (2002), Alexis Howe (2005), Chang Wang (2005), and Randall Ryder (2007), reproduced with permission.


Abuladze, Tenghiz (Director).  Pokayaniye.  Georgia: Cannon Group, 1987.

In Repentance (Pokayaniye), the Georgian mayor is a cruel, oppressive ruler. After he dies and his son tries to pick up the pieces of his life, a local woman refuses to let the father’s bones stay buried in order to express her own disgust at the man’s horrible regime.  The Soviet Union refused the distribution of the film in 1984, but it won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes film festival when it was released in 1987.[1]

Abu-Assad, Hany (Director).  Paradise Now.  Palestine/Germany/France: Augustus Film, 2005.

A unique perspective on Middle East politics. The story places two close friends, Palestinians Said and Khaled, recruited by an extremist group as suicide bombers to perpetrate a terrorist attack in Tel-Aviv.  However, things go wrong and both friends must separate in the border.  From that point on, the two friends take divergent paths, resulting in diverging consequences.  (based on:

Abu-Assad, Hany (Director).  Rana’s Wedding.  Palestine/Netherlands: Augustus Films, 2002.


About a Palestinian girl of 17 who wants to get married to the man of her own choosing. Rana wakes up one morning to an ultimatum delivered by her father: she must either choose a husband from a pre-selected list of men, or she must leave Palestine for Egypt with her father by 4:00 that afternoon. With ten hours to find her boyfriend in occupied Jerusalem, she sneaks out of her father's house at daybreak to find her forbidden love Khalil.  (synopsis from:


Apted, Michael (Director).  Thunderheart.  United States:  Columbia/Tristar Studios, 1992.

Thunderheart focuses on an FBI investigation of a murder on the Oglala Sioux reservation.  Val Kilmer portrays a half Sioux FBI agent struggling to come to terms with the Native American heritage he has chosen to ignore.  The agent discovers a conspiracy headed by the FBI to hide the source of toxins in the reservation’s water supply, a conspiracy that leads to the murder to a young Oglala Sioux woman.  The movie is based on events surrounding an actual standoff between FBI agents and Indian activists in 1975 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Apted, Michael.  Amazing Grace.  UK/USA: Fourboys Films, 2007.

An idealistic English man, William Wilberforce, attempts to successfully maneuver his way through Parliament in 19th century England in an attempt to stop the British transatlantic slave trade.  (based on information from:

Attenborough, Richard (Director). Cry Freedom.  United States: Universal Pictures, 1987.

Cry Freedom is a portrayal of apartheid South Africa.  A black activist, Steve Biko (Denzel Washington), and a liberal white journalist (Kevin Kline) become    friends to fight the status quo.  When Biko is murdered, Kline’s character must carry on alone.[2]

Attenborough, Richard (Director). Gandhi. 1982.

Sir Richard Attenborough's 1982 multiple-Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley) is an engrossing, reverential          look at the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who introduced the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to the colonized people of India and who ultimately gained the nation its independence. Kingsley is magnificent as Gandhi as he changes over the course of the three-hour film from an insignificant lawyer to an international leader and symbol. Strong on history (the historic division between India and Pakistan, still a huge problem today, can be seen in its formative stages here) as well as character and ideas, this is a fine film. --Tom Keogh ( Based on film review published on

Avildsen, John G. (Director).  The Power of One.  Australia: Warner Brothers Entertainment, 1992.

The Power of One is the story of a South African English boy, P.K., and his determination to do what is right.  P.K. has been taught to respect and admire his    African neighbors instead of regarding them as inferiors, as most of the other English and Afrikaners do.  P.K. learns to hate his country’s system of apartheid and,    through friendships and his own ingenuity, attempts to undermine it.

Avnet, Jon (Director). Red Corner. 1997.

Jack Moore is an American attorney having talks in Beijing about founding the first satellite TV joint venture. Suddenly he is arrested, accused of murder and has        to prove it was a frame-up together with his court-appointed attorney Shen Yuelin.

         (Based on information provided by

Babenco, Hector. Caradiru. USA: Sony Pictures Classics, 2004.

         This film portrays the living conditions and injustices that are allowed inside a Brazilian state penitentiary.

Babanco, Hector. Kiss of the Spider Woman. USA: Island Alive, 1985.

Based on the novel by Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman portrays the experience of cellmates in a South American prison – one “guilty” of being     homosexual and the other a political prisoner.

Bachir, Yamina (Director).  Rachida.  Algeria/France: Canal +, 2002.

Algeria saw its citizens living under the shadow of terrorism for the bulk of the 1990s and Rachida is a teacher who attempts to make a start in her young life by imparting wisdom and educating the young. But her steadfast principals land her in trouble when she encounters a group of terrorists. Refusing to obey their unreasonable orders, Rachida unwittingly places the whole school in danger of a terrorist attack. An honest look at the problems that beset Algeria in the final decade of the 20th century.  (synopsis from:

Barroso, Mariano. In the Time of the Butterflies. USA: MGM Home Entertainment, 2001.

This movie is based on the novel by Julia Alvarez, which is based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters who resisted the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican         Republic during the 1960s and who were also killed by this same regime.

Benigni, Roberto (Director).  Life Is Beautiful.  Italy:  Miramax Home Entertainment, 1998.

Life Is Beautiful is a comic, yet tragic film about an Italian man’s efforts to protect his son from seeing the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.  Guido (Roberto Benigni), tells his son that the concentration camp they have been deported to is all part of an elaborate contest in which the winner gets a tank.  Benigni creates a wonderful comedy while simultaneously showing the tragedy of the Holocaust.  Benigni received Oscars for Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film.  In Italian with English subtitles.[3]

         Based on film information provided by

Beresford, Bruce (Director).  Breaker Morant.  Australia: 7 Network, 1980.

During the Boer War in South Africa, three Australian officers are put on trial by a British military court for murdering prisoners.  (based on information from the website below.)

Berg, Peter (Director).  The Kingdom.  United States: Universal Pictures, 2007.

A FBI counterterrorism team (Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Batemen) is sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist bomb explodes inside a U.S. housing compound.  After some initial difficulties, the team aligns itself with a Saudi Police Captain and pursue the perpetrators.

Blanke, Alfred (Director). The Life of Emile Zola. 1937. Warner Bros.

The Life of Emile Zola episodically explores the career of the novelist who championed the cause of France's oppressed. Zola (Paul Muni) is a hugely successful        French author who risks all his success and comfort to come to the defense of the unjustly jailed Capt. Dreyfus (Oscar winner Joseph Schildkraut). Winner of three Oscars overall-and of immense critical and popular success-this distinguished film is a must-see portrait of a life that's "a moment of the conscience of man."

(Based on information provided by )

Bouchareb, Rachid (Direcor).  Days of Glory.  Algeria/France: Tessalit Productions, 2006.

In World War II, Muslims from French colonies enlist to fight for their motherland France - the film follows the story of a group of such men.  Along the campaign in Italy, France and Alsace, they realize that French soldiers are promoted, has better food and have leaves to visit their families, while the Arab soldiers are shamefully discriminated and treated like 2nd ranking soldiers.  (synopsis from:

Bouzid, Nouri (Director).  Man of Ashes.  Tunisia: Cinetelefilms, 1986.

As his wedding date approaches, handsome young Hachemi must confront and resolve his feelings of guilt and anxiety about a sexual incident from his past.  The film thoroughly examines traditionally masculine roles and identity in Tunisia.  (synopsis from:

Buñuel, Luís. Los Olvidados. USA: Arthur Mayer-Edward Kingsley Inc. , 1952.

         This movie portrays the life and struggles of poor slum children in Mexico City, demonstrating the destructive effects of poverty on children.

Caetano, Adrian (Director).  Bolivia.  Argentina/Netherlands: Fundracion PROA, 2001.

Bolivia tells the story of Freddy, an illegal immigrant who has left Bolivia, his home and his family to try his luck in Argentina, where he hopes to build a future in which they can be reunited. He lands a job as a cook in a restaurant where the owner is happy to flout the law in order to secure cheap labor and where Freddy meets the characters that will change the course of his life - a Paraguayan waitress, a traveling salesman from the province of Córdoba, two Buenos Aires -porteño- taxi drivers and one of the driver's buddies. The interactions between Freddy, his co-workers and the regular clientele unfold into a low key but deeply humane drama, in which prejudice and discrimination are commonplace, and rare glimpses of warmth all the more precious because of this. With strong performances, a concise narrative and impeccable camera work, Bolivia explores issues of xenophobia and social violence in Argentina.  (synopsis from:

Canton-Jones, Michael (Director).  Beyond the Gates.  UK/Germany: CrossDay Productions Ltd., 2005

Based on a true story from the 1994 massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda. An exhausted Catholic priest and a young idealistic English teacher finds themselves caught in the middle of the genocide and decide to harbor thousands of Tutsis in an attempt to protect them from the Hutu militia.

Caro, Niki. North Country. 2005

" North Country ," is inspired by the life of a real person, Lois Jenson, who filed the first class action lawsuit for sexual harassment in American history. That the          suit was settled as recently as 1991 came as a surprise to me; I would have guessed the 1970s, but no, that's when the original court decision came down. Like the   court's decisions on civil rights, it didn't change everything overnight.

         (Roger Ebert,

Cedar, Joseph (Director).  Campfire.  Israel: Cinema Post Production, Ltd., 2004.

The story of a young widow, mother of two beautiful teenage daughters, who wants to join the founding group of a new religious settlement in the West Bank, but first must convince the acceptance committee that she is worthy. Things get complicated when the younger daughter is accused of seducing some boys from her youth movement.  (synopsis from:

Chan-wook, Park (Director).  Joint Security Area.  South Korea: CJ Entertainment, 2000.

Set in a particularly tense area of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, a whodunit with a pointedly political theme and an unapologetically humanist message. Major Jean (Lee Yeong-ae), who grew up in Switzerland, comes to South Korea, her father's homeland, to investigate an incident that took place inside the Joint Security Area, administered by Swedish and Swiss peacekeepers. Collecting depositions from both sides, she encounters two predictably opposed accounts of the shooting, which left two North Korean soldiers dead. With the specter of nuclear hostilities hovering, Major Jean's investigation is a lot more than routine police work.  (synopsis based on:

Chen, Joan (Director). Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl (Tian Yu). China. 1998.

Directed by Joan Chen from an award-winning novella banned in China because of political and sexual content, "Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl" is a powerful       love story. Between 1967 and 1976, nearly 8 million Chinese youths were "sent down" for specialized training to the remotest corners of the country. Before being sent down, the young and beautiful Xiu Xiu dreams of becoming a horse trainer in the wide open plains of Tibet, far away from her busy city home. Her journey begins in a training camp in the isolated plains with a solitary and mysterious man. Slowly, Xiu Xiu discovers that she is unlikely to ever see her home   again without a wealthy sponsor. Her world becomes a horrifying cage, where "patrons" promise her escape in exchange for her sexual compromise. This is one girl's story and a compassionate deed that inspired one special man and everyone who hears her tale.

         (Based on information provided by        0088653?n=130

Chen, Kaige (Director). Farewell My Concubine. China.

The panorama of 20th-century Chinese history swirls past two men, celebrated actors with their own decidedly specialized view of things. We first observe their lives as children at the Peking Opera training school, a brutal and demanding arena for future actors. While still in training, the effeminate Douzi is chosen to play the transvestite role and the masculine Shitou is chosen to play the royal role in a ritualized play about a king and a concubine. The actors are so good at this performance that they become identified with these roles for their entire careers; through World War II, through the takeover by the Communists, through the insanity of the Cultural Revolution, they are known for their famous parts. Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi are powerful as the two men, and Gong Li (the beautiful leading lady of Raise the Red Lantern) plays the wife of the latter. The movie may be stronger on good old-fashioned melodrama than on profound conclusions, but boy, does it fill up the eyes. The director is Chen Kaige, one of the most talented members of China's "Fifth Generation" of filmmakers, whose daring subject matter (and sometimes bald international ambitions) have often irked the Chinese government. Indeed, though Farewell My Concubine shared the top prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and snagged two Oscar nominations, it had difficulty gaining official approval from China. --Robert Horton

 (Based on film review published on

Chouraqui, Elie (Director).  O Jerusalem.  France: Les Films de l’Instant, 2006.

Re-creates the historic struggle surrounding the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. At the center of these events are two young, American friends - one Jewish, the other Arab. The film is told from the alternating viewpoints of various ethnicities, all of whom collide in their fight for the control of Jerusalem while bringing to the forefront themes of courage, terrorism, deprivation, politics and a strong sense of morality. Their involvement takes them from the streets of New York to The Holy Land, where they risk their lives making incredible sacrifices along the way to fight for what they believe in, as the city of their dreams teeters on the brink of destruction.  (synopsis from:

 Clooney, George (Director). Good Night, and Good Luck. 2005.

" Good Night, and Good Luck" is a movie about a group of professional newsmen who with surgical precision remove a cancer from the body politic. They believe in the fundamental American freedoms, and in Sen. Joseph McCarthy they see a man who would destroy those freedoms in the name of defending them. Because McCarthy is a liar and a bully, surrounded by yes-men, recklessly calling his opponents traitors, he commands great power for a time. He destroys others with lies, and then is himself destroyed by the truth. helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history.

(Roger Ebert,

Coppola, Francis-Ford (Director).  Apocalypse Now.  United States: United Artists, 1979.

The story of an Army captain (Martin Sheen) sent to Vietnam to assassinate a Special Forces Colonel (Marlon Brando) who has supposedly gone insane.

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (Director). The Confession.  France: Pomeren-Valoria, 1970.

Costa-Gavras’s film is about the Stalinist puppet trials in Czechoslovakia in 1952 and the extracted and false confessions drawn out of dissidents through torture.  An Eastern European Communist official, who had been a loyalist during the Spanish Civil War, finds that he is being followed.  He is soon arrested, tortured, and put in a show trial without being told why.  In French.[4]

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (Director).  Music Box.  United States: Tri-Star Pictures, 1990.

An American woman defends her father as the U.S. attempts to deport him.  The father, a Hungarian immigrant, is accused of having committed crimes against humanity while serving in a Nazi-allied police force in his home country.  The daughter discovers things about her father that she never imagined and her story becomes an allegory of American ignorance and innocence.[5]

Costa-Gavras, Constantin (Director).  Z.  Algeria/France: Office National pour le Commerce et l'Industrie Cinématographique, 1969.

Costa-Gavras chronicles the overthrow of the democratic government in Greece. When a liberal politician is murdered in an attack during a peace demonstration, the right wing established figures in the military and the police try and hide not only their parts in it, but try to cover up the murder as well. The prosecutor must act as a detective in order to go through the cover up. While historically accurate, it is told as a combination mystery and thriller.  (synopsis from:

Costner, Kevin (Director).  Dances With Wolves.  United States: Orion Pictures, 1990.

The story of a US Army soldier (Kevin Costner) who sets out to man an abandoned Fort on the western frontier.  The soldier soon encounters the local Sioux Indian tribe and soon becomes their friend, ally, and eventually is incorporated into their tribe, even marrying one of the members of the tribe.  But soon after, the US Army discovers he is a deserter and begins to hunt both him and the tribe.

Dash, Julie (Director) The Rosa Parks Story. 2002. US

         The story of the civil rights heroine whose refusal to obey racial bus segregation was just one of her acts in her fight for justice.

Demme, Jonathan (Director).  Beloved.  United States: Buena Vista, 1998.

Jonathan Demme’s Beloved is a close adaptation of Toni Morrison’s acclaimed novel.  The film revolves around Sethe (Oprah Winfrey), a runaway slave living in Ohio with the remnants of her family.  The family is haunted by Sethe’s dead baby, whom she had killed rather than let be taken back into slavery.  Their lives are thrown further into mystery and chaos as an enigmatic girl named Beloved appears at their house one day.

DePalma, Brian (Director).  Redacted.  United States: Magnolia Pictures, 2007.

Inspired by true events, the story follows a group of soldiers who are stationed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Angel Salazar is an aspiring filmmaker who is intent on capturing his experience on videotape. His fellow soldiers--Reno Flake, Lawyer McCoy, and Gabe Blix -- seem to be surprisingly well-adjusted at first, but it isn’t long before their true colors come through. When Reno decides to get drunk and harass an Iraqi family, the situation devolves into rape and murder, putting an incredible strain on Lawyer, who wants to expose Reno but doesn’t want to rat out a fellow soldier.  (synopsis from:

DeSica, Vittorio (Director).  Shoeshine.  Italy: Societa Cooperativa Alfa Cinematografica, 1946.

The story of two young boys who work on the streets of Rome in 1946 shining the shoes of American troops. When the boys are implicated in a petty crime, they are punished by society, resulting in tragic consequences.  It was inspired by the real stories of people caught up in the chaos of a world plagued by poverty and unemployment. (synopsis from:

DeSica, Vittorio (Director). Garden of the Finzi-Continis.  Italy: Central Cinema Company Film, 1970.

Based on the autobiographical novel by Giorgio Bassani, the film covers the lives of several Jewish characters from the onset of Mussolini's anti-Semitic edicts in 1938 to the arrest and deportation of all of the Italian Jews in 1943.  As the story focuses on a love story, Mussolini is slowly dissolving the rights of all Italian Jews, though the mean characters appear unable to accept this fact, let alone deal with its consequences.  The film is a tragic, cautionary account of how the most elevated and aristocratic members of a society can ignore their approaching destruction.  (based on:

Duigan, John. Romero. USA: Four Square, 1989.

This film chronicles the life, death and struggles of the Archbishop Oscar Romero, who resisted and was murdered by the oppressive regime in El Salvador during the 1980’s.

Edwards, Robert (Director).  Land of the Blind.  UK/USA: Avnet/Kerner Productions, 2006.

A political drama about terrorism and revolution.  In an unnamed place and time, an idealistic soldier named Joe strikes up an illicit friendship with a political prisoner named Thorne, who eventually recruits him into a bloody coup d'etat. But in the post-revolutionary world, what Thorne asks of Joe leads the two men into bitter conflict, spiraling downward into madness until Joe's co-conspirators conclude that they must erase him from history.  (synopsis from:

Eisenstein, Sergei (Director). Battleship Potemkin. Soviet Union. 1925.

Sergei Eisenstein's revolutionary sophomore feature has so long stood as a textbook example of montage editing that many have forgotten what an invigoratingly cinematic experience he created. A 20th-anniversary tribute to the 1905 revolution, Eisenstein portrays the revolt in microcosm with a dramatization of the real-life mutiny aboard the battleship Potemkin. The story tells a familiar party-line message of the oppressed working class (in this case the enlisted sailors) banding together to overthrow their oppressors (the ship's officers), led by proto-revolutionary Vakulinchuk. When he dies in the shipboard struggle the crew lays his body to rest on the pier, a moody, moving scene where the citizens of Odessa slowly emerge from the fog to pay their respects. As the crowd grows Eisenstein turns the tenor from mourning a fallen comrade to celebrating the collective achievement. The government responds by sending soldiers and ships to deal with the mutinous crew and the supportive townspeople, which climaxes in the justly famous (and often imitated and parodied) Odessa Steps massacre. Eisenstein edits carefully orchestrated motions within the frame to create broad swaths of movement, shots of varying length to build the rhythm, close-ups for perspective and shock effect, and symbolic imagery for commentary, all to create one of the most cinematically exciting sequences in film history. Eisenstein's film is Marxist propaganda to be sure, but the power of this masterpiece lies not in its preaching but its poetry. --Sean Axmaker ( Based on film review published on

Falconetti, Maria (Director). The Passion of Joan of Arc. 1928.

The sufferings of a martyr, Jeanne D'Arc (1412-1431). Jeanne appears in court where Cauchon questions her and d'Estivet spits on her. She predicts her rescue, is taken to her cell, and judges forge evidence against her. In her cell, priests interrogate her and judges deny her the Mass. Threatened first in a torture chamber and then offered communion if she will recant, she refuses. At a cemetery, in front of a crowd, a priest and supporters urge her to recant; she does, and Cauchon announces her sentence. In her cell, she explains her change of mind and receives communion. In the courtyard at Rouen castle, she burns at the stake; the soldiers turn on the protesting crowd.

(Based on information provided by

Ferroukhi, Ismael (Director).  Le Grand Voyage.  France: Ognon Pictures, 2004.

Reda, summoned to accompany his father on a pilgrimage to Mecca, complies reluctantly - as he preparing for his baccalaureat and, even more important, has a secret love relationship. The trip across Europe in a broken-down car is also the departure of his father: upon arrival in Mecca, both Reda and his father are not the characters they were at the start of the movie. Avoiding the hackneyed theme of the return to the homeland, the film uses the departure to renew a connection between two generation.  (synopsis from:

Forman, Milos (Director).  The Fireman’s Ball.  Czechoslovakia: Carlo Ponti Cinematografica, 1967.

On the surface, the film is a comedic look at a fireman’s ball where nothing goes right.  But under the surface, the film is an attack on Communist ideals. In particular, the film implicitly critiques Czechoslovakia’s Stalinist purges of the 1950’s, which resulted in the deaths or imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of citizens.  (excerpt from:

Frankenheimer, John (Director).  The Fixer.  United States: MGM Studios, 1968.

In The Fixer, a Jewish handyman, or "fixer" attempts escape from an unjust prison sentence in harsh and anti-Semitic Czarist Russia.  The film is based on the novel by Bernard Malamud.

Frears, Stephen (Director).  Dirty Pretty Things.  United Kingdom: BBC, 2002.

An illuminating and nuanced film about the exploitation of illegal immigrants.  Okwe, a kind-hearted Nigerian doctor, and Senay, a Turkish chambermaid, work at the same West London hotel. The hotel is run by Senor Sneaky and is the sort of place where dirty business like drug dealing and prostitution takes place. However, when Okwe finds a human heart in one of the toilets, he uncovers something far more sinister than just a common crime.  (synopsis based on:

Freeman, Morgan (Director).  Bopha!  United States: Paramount Pictures, 1993.

Bopha! is the story of a black police officer in a modern apartheid South Africa; a man who is amiable with his white superiors and glad to have his job and family.  His peaceful world comes apart, however, when his son begins participating in strikes against the local white-run school and the authorities crack down violently.[6]

Friedkin, William (Director).  Rules of Engagement.  United States:  Paramount Pictures, 2000.

In Rules of Engagement, a Marine commander (Samuel L. Jackson) is accused of ordering his men to shoot innocent civilian protesters while they were removing the U.S. ambassador and his family from the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.  His friend (Tommy Lee Jones), a retired military attorney, must search for the truth in order to save his friend from court martial.

Gaghan, Stephen (Director).  Syriana.  United States: Warner Bros., 2005.

The story of corruption and power related to the oil industry that tells four parallel stories: the CIA agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) with great experience in Middle East that falls in disgrace after an unsuccessful mission dealing missiles in Lebanese Republic; the investigation of the attorney Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) related to the merge of two American oil companies, Connex and Killen; the traumatic association of the energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) with the son of a powerful emir of Emirate; and the social drama of the Pakistani immigrant worker Wasim Khan (Mazhar Munir) that is fired by the oil company.  (based on information from:

Gance, Abel (Director). J'Accuse! ( I Accuse!), 1919/1938. France.

Abel Gance’s powerful anti-war film still has the power to move and shock.  Through the intimate microcosm of two soldiers united on the battlefield, Gance shows the horror and absurdity of war for all its worth. 

(Film review by James Travers.

George, Terry (Director). Hotel Rwanda. United States. 2005.

Ten years ago some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda--and in an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees, by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages.

(Based on information provided by

Gilbert, Brian (Director).  Not Without My Daughter.  United States: MGM Studios, 1990.

In Not Without My Daughter, an American woman and her child accompany her Iranian husband to his homeland, where he decides the family will stay.  To her horror, she realizes that Iranian women have no rights, and she must flee the country with her daughter.

Gorin, Serif (Director).  Yol.  Turkey: Triumph Releasing, 1982.

Yol is a drama about five Turkish convicts let out of prison for one week.  Each of them experience tragedy, however, in their short time of liberty.  One discovers his brother has been killed by police, another that his wife has been unfaithful.  Yol reveals the very non-Western aspects of Turkish society and tradition as well as different sides of freedom.[7]

Grede, Kjell (Director).  Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg.  Sweden: Film Technik, 1990.

Swedish national Raoul Wallenberg, newcomer to politics and international machinations, travels to German-occupied Budapest during WWII in order to effectively intervene in the fate of trapped Hungarian Jews, by providing them with safe passage to Sweden.  (synopsis from:

Greengrass, Paul (Director).  Bloody Sunday.  U.K./Ireland: Bord Scannan na hEireann, 2002.

A docudrama that highlights the tensions between Ireland and England, telling the infamous story of January 30, 1972, known as Bloody Sunday in Ireland – when the British militia opened fire on Irish protesters in Ireland.

Griffith, D.W. (Director). Intolerance. United States. 1916.

Intolerance and its terrible effects are examined in four historical eras. In ancient Babylon, a mountain girl is caught up in the religious rivalry that leads to the city's downfall. In Judea, the hypocritical Pharisees condemn Jesus Christ. In 1572 Paris, unaware of the impending St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, two young Huguenots prepare for marriage. Finally, in modern America, social reformers destroy the lives of a young woman and her beloved.

Based on film information provided by

Hackford, Taylor (Director).  Proof of Life.  United States:  Warner Studios, 2000.

In Proof of Life, Peter and Alice Bowman (David Morse and Med Ryan) live in the fictional country of Tecala in Latin America, where Peter works for a corporation building a dam.  When Peter is kidnapped by rebels seeking to collect a hefty ransom from the corporation, Alice turns to a professional kidnap and ransom negotiator (Russell Crowe) for help.

Haroun, Mahamet-Saleh (Director).  Daratt.  Chad: Chinguitty Films, 2006.

Chad, 2006. After a forty-year civil war, the radio announces the government has just amnestied the war criminals. Outraged by the news, Gumar Abatcha orders his grandson Atim, a sixteen-year-old youth, to trace the man who killed his father and to execute him. Atim obeys him and, armed with his father's own gun, he goes in search of Nassara, the man who made him an orphan. It does not take long before he finds him. Nassara, who now goes straight, is married, goes to the mosque and owns a small bakery. After some hesitation Atim offers him his services as an apprentice. He is hired then it will be easy for him to gun down the murderer of his father. At least, that is what he thinks.  (synopsis from:

Herbiet, Laurent (Director).  Mon Colonel.  France: K.G. Productions, 2006.

A "Reformed Colonel" is found dead in Paris, a couple of decades after Algeria's struggle for independence was won from France. Lieutenant Galois is assigned the investigation of this murder. She receives the diary of Lieutenent Guy Rossi who served under The Colonel in Algeria in 1956, and has been reported as missing in action since 1957. The revelations found in Rossi's diary go far beyond The Colonel's actions in Algeria, and give an insight on how dirty Algeria's War for Independence really was.  (synopsis from:

Herzog, Werner. Aguierre: der Zorn Gottes. USA: New Yorker Films, 1977.

After the destruction of the Incan Empire during the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, a group of Spaniards, led by Lope de Aguirre, leaves the mountains of Peru to sail down the Amazon River in search of gold ( El Dorado) and eternal fame. The journey quickly becomes perilous as the group is depleted, morale deteriorates and fights ensure among the crewmembers.

Herzog, Werner (Director).  Rescue Dawn.  United States: MGM, 2006.

The story of an American pilot (Christian Bale) who crashes during a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam.  Captured, and subject to torture by his captors, the pilot and one other fellow captive manage to endure, and eventually escape.

Hirshbiegel, Oliver.  The Experiment.  Germany: Fanes Film, 2001.

A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For two weeks 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards. The 'prisoners' are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the 'guards' are told simply to retain order without using physical violence. Everybody is free to quit at any time, thereby forfeiting payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and rather emphatic. But soon quarrels arise and the wardens employ ever more drastic sanctions to confirm their authority.  (synopsis from:

Hood, Gavin (Director).  Rendition.  United States: New Line Cinema, 2007.

An Egyptian terrorism suspect is kidnapped while traveling home home to his wife (Reece Witherspoon) in the United States.  A young CIA agent (Jake Gllyenhall) is charged with interrogating the suspect is he is held overseas in a secret CIA detention center.

Hood, Gavin (Director).  Tsotsi.  UK/South Africa: The UK Film & TV Production Company PLC, 2005.

A drama tracing six days in the lonely, violent life of Tsotsi (meaning "thug"), a ruthless, young gang leader. Bolstered by a small crew of social rejects, Tsotsi refuses to think further ahead than the raids of the coming night. After an impromptu car jacking results in the accidental kidnapping of an infant, Tsotsi begins to care for the child and rediscover his humanity.  (based on:

Hou, Hsiao-hsien (Director). A City of Sadness (Bei Qing Cheng Shi). Taiwan.

By presenting the tragic consequences that resulted from the mainland authorities' ever-escalating pattern of abuse of power, A City of Sadness compassionately articulates the suppressed, silent despair of a people repeatedly victimised as they search for inclusion and cultural identification. Through the film's pervasively alienated perspective, Hou reflects contemporary Taiwan's vestigial legacy of demoralisation, abandonment, isolation, and betrayal at the politically motivated hands of intrusive external forces.

Film reviewed by Acquarello,

Ichikawa, Kon (Director).  The Burmese Harp.  Japan: Nikkatsu, 1956.

A Japanese army private in Burma is so revolted by the carnage of war that he refuses to return home. Dressed as a Buddhist monk, he remains to bury the dead. The first Japanese film to stress pacifism, Burmese Harp is renowned for its humanist fervor.  (based on information provided at the website below.)

Jancso, Miklos (Director).  The Red and the White.  Hungary: Mafilm, 1990.

A haunting film about the absurdity and evils of war. Set in Central Russia during the Civil War of 1918, the story details the constant shifting of power between the White guards and the Red soldiers, first at an abandoned monastery, and later, at a field hospital. Using the wide-screen technique consisting of very long takes and a ceaselessly tracking camera movement, Jancso has fashioned a brilliant visual style that gives his film the quality of a surreal nightmare.  (based on synopsis at:

Jiang, Wen (Director).  Devils on the Doorstep.  China: Asian Union Film & Entertainment, 2000.

An antiwar film is set in an impoverished farming village in northern China near the Great Wall during the winter of 1944 and '45. Although the area has been under Japanese occupation since the 1930's, the villagers have grown to tolerate the occupying "devils," who demand a percentage of their grain but otherwise mostly leave them to their own devices. The black-and-white film, belongs to that rarefied breed of antiwar movie that adopts a lofty satirical distance from its characters' plight. By turns farcical and horrifying, it scrupulously avoids plucking heartstrings to portray the soldiers and peasants alike as paranoid fools buffeted by the shifting winds of war.  (based on synopsis from:

Joffé, Roland. The Mission. USA: Warner Bros., 1986.

This film portrays the conflicting ideologies that characterized the Conquest of the Americas, specifically showing the Jesuits in Brazil who attempted to protect the indigenous population from the mistreatment of the pro-slavery Portuguese conquistadors.

Kadar, Jan (Director); Klos, Elmar (Director).  The Shop on Main Street.  Czechslovakia: Filmové Studio Barrandov, 1965.

An inept Czech peasant is torn between greed and guilt when the Nazi-backed bosses of his town appoint him "Aryan controller" of an old Jewish widow's button shop. Humor and tragedy fuse in this scathing exploration of one cowardly man's complicity in the horrors of a totalitarian regime. Made near the height of Soviet oppression in Czechoslovakia, the film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1965.  (synopsis from:

Kang, Je-Kyu (Director). Tae Guk Gi (The Brotherhood of War).  South Korea: Kang Je-Kyu Film Co. Ltd., 2004

The story of two brothers unwillingly drafted into the South Korean army following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. The older brother strives to protect his younger brother on the battlefield, while struggling to find a way to have him discharged so he can return to their village and care for the family they left behind. However, as the war progresses, the horror and violence they witness begin to take its toll on each man and severe their bonds as brothers and soldiers.  (symopsis from:

Kaplan, Jonathon (Director).  Brokedown Palace.  United States: 20th Century Fox, 1999.

Alice (Claire Danes) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsdale) are best friends who decide to celebrate their high school graduation with a trip to Thailand. There, they meet a handsome Australian, who convinces them to travel to Hong Kong, but is actually using them to smuggle drugs.  Upon being caught at Bangkok Airport with heroin the two girls are sentenced to decades in prison, and must contact a greedy American lawyer (Bill Pullman) to try and regain their freedom.

Kaplan, Betty (Director).  Of Love and Shadows.  Spain: Miramax, 1994.

Of Love and Shadows is a film adaptation of the Isabella Allende book featuring magazine reporter Irene Beltran in Chile in 1973.  She lives a sheltered life and is unaware of the atrocities befalling the public until she becomes involved with a photographer whose brother is a member of the human rights underground.  A story lead subsequently leads her to a disgruntled soldier who gives her a notebook detailing the military regime’s terrors perpetuated against the people.  As Beltran and her photographer start revealing the wrongdoing publicly, they are attacked by the regime and forced to flee to Spain.  The two later return to a democratized Chile to witness the changes.[8]

Kassovitz, Mathieu (Director).  Hate. France: MKL/Lazennec Diffusion, 1995.

The story of three ethnically-diverse boys from a poverty-stricken housing complex in Paris.  After watching one of their friends fall victim to a senseless beating the boys find a loaded gun and become entangled with boy the police and a group of skinheads.  (based on:

Kassovitz, Peter (Director).  Jakob the Liar.  Unites States:  Columbia Tristar, 1999.

Jakob the Liar is about a Polish Jew, Jakob (Robin Williams), living in a Nazi-occupied ghetto during WWII who overhears a radio broadcast that the Allies are advancing against the Germans.  In order to keep the hopes of those around him alive, Jakob begins telling fictitious stories about the victories the Allies are achieving against the Germans, claiming he heard them on the radio.  When the Germans learn of the reports, they begin looking for the owner of the mythical radio.[9]

Kaufman, Philip (Director). The Unbearable Lightness of Being. 1988.

Let others in 1968 Prague fret over liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Prague surgeon and avowed womanizer Tomas is focused on the happiness of pursuit. He's determined to live with a lightness of being unfettered by things like commitment and Communism. A young doctor's quest for sex and his stumbling into love are part of the rich storyline of this lyrical film from the landmark Milan Kundera novel, produced by Saul Zaentz (The English Patient, Amadeus) and directed by Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Henry & June). Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin indelibly form the romantic triangle at the center of Tomas' world. It's a shifting world of hope spoiled and renewed, of lives blighted by oppression and reinvigorated by deep, maturing love.

Based on film information provided by

Kaye, Tony (Director).  *American History X.  United States: New Line Cinema, 1998.

American History X is the story of the experiences of a reformed neo-Nazi and white supremacist.  The movie begins as Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is released from a three year prison term, imposed for the murder of a black gang member.  Derek is idolized by his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), who has followed his brother into a life of hatred and racism.  Through flashbacks, the audience learns Derek’s whole story, from the murder of his father which stoked the fire of his hatred to his eventual renunciation of his views in prison.  Now that Derek is out of prison and on the right path, he attempts to save the mind and soul of his brother.  The movie addresses real issues in American race relations and the long road ahead to gain full social integration and harmony.

Kazan, Elia. Viva Zapata!. USA: 20 th Century Fox Film Corp, 1952.

         This film depicts the story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata who led a rebellion against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz in the early 1900’s.

Khleifi, Michel (Director).  Fertile Memory. Palestine/Netherlands/Belgium, 1980

The film combines documentary and narrative elements to examine the lives of Palestinian women living in a conflicted culture. Romia works in an Israeli factory and continually fights Israeli authorities for the rights to her family land. Sahar works as a novelist, and finds a struggle in her life as a young, divorced mother. Through the experiences of these women, the film finds the voice of Palestinian women, caught in a predominantly masculine political conflict.  (synopsis from:

Klimov, Elem (Director).  Come and See.  Russia: Kino International, 1992.

Set in occupied Byelorussia in 1943, the film follows a teenager into the swamps and forests of the border provinces, where he undergoes a hell of atrocities, becoming a middle-aged wreck as he tries to survive repeated encounters with ruthless German soldiers. (based on synopsis provided at

Koller, Xavier (Director). Journey of Hope. United States: HBO Video, 1990.

Based on a true story, this movie depicts a Kurdish family leaving their homeland to find work in Switzerland. After being cheated by an immigrant smuggler from their own country, the family has to cross the Alps on foot. Academy Award: Best Foreign Language Film. ***


Kozole, Damjan.  (Director).  Spare Parts.  Slovakia: E-Motion Film, 2003.


Embittered widower, Ludvik, spends his nights transporting illegal refugees in his van from Croatia, across Slovenia, and into Italy. The young and inexperienced Rudi acts as his helpmate. Together they become a well-trained duo who almost every night convey "spare parts" to Italy.  The whole idea of this account is that everyone - including ourselves - is looking for happiness: the "spare parts" because of the misery they are plunged into without, and our characters because they can't find it inside.  (synopsis from:


Kramer, Stanley (Director). Judgment at Nuremberg. 1961. UA/Roxlom.

Director Stanley Kramer's socially conscious 1961 film tackles the subject of the war crime trials arising out of World War II in an earnest and straightforward fashion, exploring the consciousness of two nations as they struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of the Holocaust. Spencer Tracy plays the American judge selected to head the tribunal that will try the suspected war criminals. As he sets about his task, he must confront the raw emotion felt by the German people, and his own notions of good and evil, right and wrong. Regarded as a classic, this stark rendering of one of the most pivotal events in the 20th century features a stellar cast including Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Marlene Dietrich, a young William Shatner, and Maximillian Schell, who won an Oscar for his role as counsel for the defense for those charged with crimes against humanity. Judgment at Nuremberg is important viewing not only for the history of film, but for the history of modern times. -- Robert Lane

Based on film review published on

Kreuzpaintner, Marco (Director).  Trade.  Germany: Centropolis Entertainment, 2007.

Adriana is a 13-year-old girl from Mexico City whose kidnapping by sex traffickers sets in motion a desperate mission by her 17-year-old brother, Jorge to save her.  Adriana's only friend and protector throughout her ordeal is Veronica, a young Polish woman tricked into the trade by the same criminal gang. As Jorge dodges immigration officers and incredible obstacles to track the girls' abductors, he meets Ray, a Texas cop whose own family loss to sex trafficking leads him to become an ally in the boy's quest. Fighting with courage and hard-tested faith, the characters of Trade negotiate their way through the unspeakable terrain of the sex trade "tunnels" between Mexico and the United States. From the barrios of Mexico City and the treacherous Rio Grande border, to a secret internet sex slave auction and the final climactic confrontation at a stash house in suburban New Jersey, Ray and Jorge forge a close bond as they give desperate chase to Adriana's kidnappers before she is sold and disappears forever into this brutal global underworld, a place from which few victims ever return.  (synopsis from:

Lee, Spike (Director). Malcolm X. 1992. Warner Bros.

Biography of Malcolm X, the famous African American leader. Born Malcolm Little, his father (a minister) was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. He became a gangster, and while in jail discovered the Nation of Islam writings of Elijah Muhammad. He preaches the teachings when let out of jail, but later on goes on a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, there he converts to the original Islamic religion and becomes a Sunni Muslim. He changes his name to El-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz and stops his anti-white teachings, as he realises the error of his mistakes. He is later on assasinated and dies a Muslim Martyr.

(Based on information provided by

Leigh, Mike (Director).  Vera Drake.  UK/France: Les Films Alain Sarde, 2004.

The film takes place in England in the 1950’s, when abortion was illegal.  The story surrounds a kindhearted woman, Vera, devoted to her family who also secretly visits women and helps them induce miscarriages for unwanted pregnancies.  Vera sees herself as simply helping women in need, and always does so with a smile and kind words of encouragement. When the authorities finally find her out, Vera's world and family life rapidly unravel.  (based on:

Lemmons, Kasi (Director).  Talk to Me.  United States: Focus Features, 2007.

Don Cheadle portrays radio host Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene Jr.  Together with program director’s help (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Petey provides a voice of truth, reason, and leadership during the turbulent civil rights period of the 1960’s in Washington D.C.

Loach, Ken (Director).  Carla’s Song.  United Kingdom: Shadow Distribution, 1996.

Carla’s Song is the story of two lovers who return to the woman’s homeland of Nicaragua during the 1987 struggle between the Sandanistas and the Contras in order to free the woman from her past.  Their love, however, is unable to transcend the societal terror the two find in Nicaragua.[10] 8

Macdonald, Kevin (Director).  Last King of Scotland.  UK: DNA Films, 2006.

A Scottish doctor (Forrest Whittaker) on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the worlds most barbaric figures: Idi Amin. Impressed by Dr. Garrigans brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amins savagery--and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.  (synopsis from:

Malkovich, John. The dancer upstairs. USA: 20th Century Fox, 2002.

         A detective in an unnamed Latin American country searches for a revolutionary guerilla leader that opposes the fascist government.

Mandoki, Luis. Voces inocentes. Mexico: 20 th Century Fox, 2004.


         Voces inocentes portrays the struggles of a young boy in El Salvador during the Civil War of the 1980’s who has to choose between enlisting in the army, or        joining guerilla forces.

Marshall, Rob (Director). Memoirs of a Geisha.  United States: Columbia Pictures, 2005.

In 1929 an impoverished young child from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history.  (based on information at:

Marston, Joshua. Maria, Full of Grace. USA: Fine Line Features, 2004.


Maria, a young pregnant Colombian woman becomes a drug mule out of her desperation to make money to help her family situation and give a better life to her future child. 

Based on information provided by

Masharawi, Rashid (Director).  Curfew.  Netherlands: Ayloul Film Productions, 1994.

An intense account of the stressful, restrictive, routine which an extended family must endure now that Israeli authorities have declared an open-ended curfew in their Gaza community.  (based on:

Makhmalbaf, Samira (Director).  Blackboards.  Iran: Makhmalbaf Productions, 2000.

A film about teachers crossing the mountains of the Iranian border in search of students.  A slyly subversive film of young Iranians' frustration with post-revolutionary orthodoxy.  The film depicts the harshness and beauty of the Iran/Iraq border, and is testimony to the unexpected usefulness in the wilderness of a blackboard.  (based on:

McBrearty, Don (Director).  Race to Freedom: the Underground Railroad.  United States: Xenon Home Video, 1994.

The underground railroad is a rarely-touched film subject.  This made-for-TV movie, aired on Black Entertainment Television and the Family Channel, is the story of a group of North Carolina slaves who escape from their plantation in the 1850s, headed for Canada.  The film is a potentially good educational tool, as the runaways encounter such great figures as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Levi Coffin.[11]

Mehta, Deepa (Director).  Earth.  India/Canada: Cracking the Earth Films, Inc., 1998.

The movie opens in Lahore of 1947 before India and Pakistan became independent. It is a cosmopolitan city, depicted by the coterie of working class friends who are from different religions. The rest of the movie chronicles the fate of this group and the maddening religious that sweeps even this city as the partition of the two countries is decided and Lahore is given to Pakistan.  (synopsis from:

Mehta, Deepa (Director).  Water.  Canada/India: Deepa Mehta Films, 2005.

A beautiful, tragic, sad, emotionally available film about the deplorable situation in India in regards to its many millions of widows: who are segregated into Ashrams, forced to beg in the street, some into prostitution to support the Ashram and are viewed as if not Untouchable...then unavailable for remarriage.  (symopsis from:

Meirelles, Fernando; Lund, Katia. City of God. USA: Miramax Films, 2002

         Ciudade de Deus portrays the often violent realities lived in the “favelas” (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Meirelles, Fernando (Director). The Constant Gardner. 2005.

Based on the best-selling John le Carré novel and from the Academy Award-nominated director of "City of God." In a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) is found brutally murdered. Tessa's companion, a doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa's widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), will leave the matter to them. They could not be more wrong. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife's infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, he will risk his own life, stopping at nothing to uncover and expose the truth - a conspiracy more far-reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.

Based on information provided by

Milani, Tahmineh (Director).  The Hidden Half.  Iran: Arta Film, 2001.

As a criminal judge travels to hear the case of a woman accused of murder, his wife Fereshteh gives him a long letter to read. Hoping the letter will give her husband a better understanding of the situation of women in Iran, she discusses her past as a political militant in the 1970's.  (synopsis from:

Milani, Tahmineh (Director).  Two Women.  Iran, 1999.

Details the lives of two promising architecture students over the course of the first turbulent years of the Islamic Republic. A scathing portrait of those traditions - aided by official indifference - which conspire to trap women and stop them from realizing their full potential; the inclusion of frank depictions of domestic violence was hailed by many as a breakthrough in dealing with a long taboo subject.  (synopsis from:

Milestone, Lewis (Director).  All Quiet on the Western Front.  United States: Universal Pictures, 1930.

Based on the book, the story takes place during World War I, following the lives of German soldiers.  In particular, the story deals with the horrors of war, and how the soldiers first hand experiences with life and death vastly alter the way they treat the opposing soldiers, each other, and how they view the world.  (based on information provided at the website below.)

Mokneche, Nadir (Director).  Viva Laldjerie.  France: BL Prod., 2004.

A richly drawn portrait of women exiled in their own country; Algiers in 2003. Three women: a mother, her daughter and a prostitute have been living in a hotel in the centre of town amid creeping fundamentalism.  (based on synopsis at:

Moodysson, Lukas (Director).   Lilja 4-Ever.  Sweden: MemFis Film, 2002.

The story is based on the life of Dangoule Rasalaite and examines the issue of trafficking in human beings and sexual slavery. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Moshe, Guy (Director).  Holly.  United States: Priority Films, 2006.

The story revolves around an American stolen artifacts dealer who tries to save a Vietnamese girl from being sold to human traffickers. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Mulligan, Robert.  (Director).  To Kill a Mockingbird.  United States: Universal Pictures, 1962.


A renowned classic featuring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, an idealistic trial lawyer.  Set in the post-depression era of the 1930’s, Finch is chosen to represent an African American farmer accused of raping the farmer’s daughter.  Racial tensions erupt in the small town as the case goes to trial.


Mungiu, Cristian (Director).  4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days.  Romania: Mobra Films, 2007.


A highly acclaimed drama, that takes in Romania in the 1980’s.  At that period in Romania, all forms of contraception, including abortion were illegal.  The story surrounds a woman who helps her friend arrange an illegal abortion.          (based on information provided at the website below.)


Nava, Gregory (Director). El Norte. Farmington Hills, Mich.: CBS/Fox Video, 1984.

Two young Mayan Indians, a brother and sister, travel from their remote Guatemalan village, after the military regime destroys their village and family. They arrive first in Mexico, then at the "promised land" of the north--Los Angeles.**


Niccol, Andrew (Director).  Lord of War.  United States: Lions Gate Films, 2005.


Nicholas Cage plays an arms dealer without a conscious - who sells weapons to nearly every dictator around the globe,  relentlessly pursued by an Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke).


Noyce, Phillip (Director).  Catch a Fire.  France/UK/USA: Mirage Enterprises, 2005.


Based on the real life story of Patrick Chamusso, an ordinary black South African who, after being wrongly accused of crimes against the racist government in the early 1980’s, became a foot soldier in the war against apartheid.  (based on:


Noyce, Robert (Director).  Rabbit Proof Fence.  Australia: Australia Film Commission, 1995.


Set in Australia in 1931, the films revolves around a government policy that requires “half-caste” children (their mothers were Aboriginies and their fathers caucasisan) to be forcibly removed from their homes by the State and trained to work as servants.  (based on information from:



Oumar Sissko, Cheick (Director).  Finzan (A Dance for Heroes).  Mali: Kora Films, 1990.


A story dealing with both FGM (female genital mutilation) and a woman’s resistance to the local tradition of having to marry her dead husband’s brother.  (based on information provided at the website below.)



Palcy, Euzhan (Director).  *A Dry White Season.  United States: MGM Studios, 1989.

In A Dry White Season, a white school teacher (Donald Sutherland) in South Africa slowly comes to realize the cruel and unfair qualities of the sanctioned racism in his society.

Panahi, Jafar (Director).  Crimson Gold. Iran: Jafar Panahi Productions, 2003.

The film sets out to examine what drove Hussein a pizza deliveryman and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, to rob a Tehran jewelry store. The answer is not altogether surprising, and at times "Crimson Gold" exhibits a finger-pointing didacticism as it exposes the cruelties and inequities of a society sharply polarized by class and corrupted by selfishness, snobbery and cynicism.  (based on:    

Panahi, Jafar (Director).  Dayereh (aka Come and See).  Iran, Jafar Panahi Productions, 2000.

An awarding-winning independent film that details the oppressive and sexist treatment of women in contemporary Iran. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Parker, Alan (Director) Mississippi Burning. 1988. US.

Mississippi Burning is griping and powerful civil rights era drama that is based on real life events. Three civil rights workers (two white, one black) are missing and feared dead. They were last sceen in a small Mississippi town. The FBI sends down a team of agents led by Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman. Mr. Dafoe is a young, idealistic agent while Mr. Hackman is one time small town Mississippi sheriff with alot views on how the case should be handled. The two bang heads, before they eventually come to a common ground. The town is segregated and the Ku Klux Klan runs rampant. The film's graphic depiction of racism and hatred is disturbing. It is difficult to image that something this grotesque and reviling could happen in this country, but it unfortunately did. Francis McDormand is the wife of Brad Dourif who is town's deputy sheriff. Despite the fact her husband is knee deep in the missing kids situation and is a hateful and violent man, she rises above it and shows compassion to her fellow man. There is alot of sexual tension between her and Mr. Hackman and it adds a calming touch to the turbulent surroundings. Mississippi Burning is a film that is movie making at it's best. It comments on society, makes you think, educates you and in the end entertains.

Film review by Thomas Magnum, published online at

Payami, Babak (Director).  Secret Ballot.  Iran: Fabrika, 2001.

A lighthearted comedy about the blossoming of democracy in Iran that is both and naïve.  The movie can be interpreted both as a piece of propaganda on behalf of the Iranian theocracy and the token democratic reforms that the mullahs have permitted, or if it is a work of stunningly sunny optimism that honestly believes genuine democracy is on its way to that beleaguered country. (synopsis based on:

Pierson, Frank (Director). Citizen Cohn. 1992.

Citizen Cohn is a biography of Roy Cohn, “McCarthy's loyal partner, the Kennedys' worst enemy, the F.B.I.'s best friend, and the country's greatest nightmare.” A real public nuisance, Roy Cohn was the chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy during the "Red Scare" of the late fifties. This hotshot lawyer helped send the Rosenbergs to the electric chair. The narrative technique in this film used to tell his story is through flashback. The story is told of Cohn's rise to power, his ruthless treatment of 'communists', and his slow but eventual downfall, James Woods gives a riveting performance of Roy Cohn. 

Based on information provided by

Polanski, Roman.  Death and the Maiden.  United States: Fine Line, 1994.

In Death and the Maiden, a Latin American torture survivor now living a normal life has a chance encounter with the man who tortured her.  He does not realize who she is, and she begins to inflict the same psychological pain on him that he had inflicted on her. [12]

Polanski, Roman (Director). The Pianist. 2003.

A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw.

Based on film information provided by

Pollack, Sydney (Director).  The Interpreter.  United States: Universal Pictures, 2005.

Nicole Kidman stars as a U.N. interpreter who overhears a death threat during a General Assembly meeting.  Supposedly, an African dictator is supposed to be assassinated.  Sean Penn, playing a Secret Service agent, is assigned to protect Kidman and investigate the possible assassination.     

Pontecorvo, Gillo (Director).  Battle of Algiers.  France/Italy/Algeria: Casbah Film, 1966.

A film commissioned by the Algerian government that shows the Algerian revolution from both sides. The French foreign legion has left Vietnam in defeat and has something to prove. The Algerians are seeking independence. The two clash. The torture used by the French is contrasted with the Algerian's use of bombs in soda shops. A devastating look at an extremely costly war.  (synopsis from:

Puenzo, Luis (Director).  *La Historia Oficial (The Official Story).  Argentina: Fox Lorber, 1985.

         La Historia Oficial is a film about a family in Argentina torn apart because of the oppression and human rights abuses of the military dictatorship during the nineteen seventies. [13]

Radford, Michael (Director).  1984.  United Kingdom: Virgin Films, 1984.

1984 is the film adaptation of George Orwell’s classic nightmarish tale.  The film follows the struggles of one man to escape the reaches of a "Big Brother" government that allows no individuality or emotion.

Rahmanian, Haman, (Director).  Day Break.  Iran: Prometheus Films, 2005.

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, capital punishment is carried out according to Islamic law, which gives the family of the victim ownership of the offender's life. Day Break - based on a compilation of true stories and shot inside Tehran's century-old prison - revolves around the imminent execution of Mansour, a man found guilty of murder. When the family of the victim repeatedly fails to show up on the appointed day, Mansour's execution is postponed again and again. Stuck inside the purgatory of his own mind, he waits as time passes on without him, caught between life and death, retribution and forgiveness. (synopsis from:

Ratnam, Mani, (Director).  A Peck on the Cheek.  India: Madras Talkies, 2002.

Amudha is an eight-year-old girl who learns from her adopted family that her real mother and father were separated by a war. In an attempt to meet her birth mother, she travels with her cousin and her new family to the place her parents came from, and sees for herself the conditions that led to her being separated from her parents.  (review from:


Roodt, Darrell James (Director).  Cry, the Beloved Country.  United States: Miramax Films, 1995.

In this film, a black minister (James Earl Jones) crosses paths with a racist white landowner (Donald Sutherland) while searching for his son in Johannesburg.  The film traces the roots of South African racial enmity and its consequences.  The film is based on the Alan Paton book written in 1948. [14]

Roodt, Darrell James (Director).  Sarafina! South Africa: Buena Vista, 1992.

Sarafina! is a musical set in revolutionary 1976 South Africa.  The story goes through the experiences of a young black teenager as she and her classmates become politically involved.  After their teacher is arrested and their school assaulted, the students resist and protest boldly. [15]

Rondon, Mariana (Director).  Postcards from Leningrad.  Venezuela: Sudaka Films, 2007.

         A drama about children growing up amongst guerilla groups in Venezuela in the 1960’s. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Rothemund, Marc (Director).  Sophie Scholl: the Final Days.  Germany: Broth Film, 2005.

The true story of Germany's famous anti-Nazi heroine. Sophie Scholl was an activist behind the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. The films re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a heart-stopping journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless.  (based on:

Rosi, Francesco (Director). Salvatore Giuliano. Italy. 1962.

Who murdered Salvatore Giuliano? July 5, 1950-the infamous bandit's bullet-riddled corpse is found facedown in a courtyard in Castelvetrano, Sicily, a handgun and rifle by his side. At the age of twenty-seven, Giuliano (Frank Wolff) was then both Italy's most wanted criminal and most celebrated hero of his day. In this groundbreaking work of investigative filmmaking, director Francesco Rosi harnesses the facts and myths surrounding the true story of Giuliano's death, creating a searching and startling exposé of Sicily and the web of relations between her citizens, the Mafia, the military, and government officials.

Based on film information provided by

Rosi, Francesco (Director). The Truce. Italy. 1998.

This is the true story of Italian Jews returning home from Auschwitz after the war. It deals with their experiences in readjusting to life and their fears about what they will find at home.

Based on film information provided by

Ruffio, Jacques (Director).  La Passante.  France: Cinema 5, 1982.

This French-German production features Romy Schneider in a dual role as a German living in Occupied Paris and as the present-day wife of a human rights activist. The activist, Max Baumstein, kills the Paraguayan ambassador when he learns that the politician is not only a former Nazi but the general who ordered the death of his parents. In a flashback, young Max is taken to Paris by Elsa (Schneider), whose husband Michel is sent to a concentration camp. As a result, Elsa is forced to support herself as a singer in Pigalle, eventually giving up her body to a Nazi general who promises to arrange for Michel's release. The familiar story of former SS men altering their identities and rising in the South American political ranks is intelligently handled in La Passante. [16]

Saleh, Tewfik (Director).  The Dupes.  Syria: National Film Organization, 1972.

Set in Iraq (but shot in Syria), this is the story of three men who try to leave their impoverished and hopeless lives to get get work in Kuwait. They hire a water-truck driver to transport them illegally across the border in the tank of his truck (synopsis from:

Salles, Walter. Motorcycle Diaries. USA: Focus Features, 2004.

Diarios de motocicleta portrays the motorcycle trip through South America taken by Ernesto “Che” Guevara in his youth during which he learns of the realities of his continent.

Sanger, Jonathan (Director).  Down Came a Blackbird.  United States: Viacom Pictures, 1995.

In this film, a United States journalist (Laura Dern) and her lover go to an anonymous South-American country to interview a rebel leader.  The two are arrested, however, during a protest, separated, and tortured.  The journalist returns to the United States after being released and tries to begin the healing process.  Her past still haunts her, and she finds herself at a center for survivors of torture to do an article about its founder, a Holocaust survivor.  The article is difficult for her to write, however, and more pain and conflict erupt as a mysterious South American professor arrives at the center. [17]

Sayles, John (Director).  Matewan.  United States: Cinecom Pictures, 1987.

Based on actual events in Mingo County, West Virginia. The dramatization of a famous shootout in the struggle to unionize the coal fields of West Virginia. The mayor Matewan, two union members, and seven armed coal company strong-arm men were all killed. The movie details the struggle of companies to control labor unions, racial cooperation during a period of racial turmoil, and examination of how far people must be pushed to use violence.  It also shows the central role of evangelical religion in the lives of the miners, the isolation of the West Virginia coal towns, the difficulties of organizing a union, and the brutality of the coal companies.  (Based on synopsis from:

More information available at:

Satrapi, Marjane (Director); and Paronnaud, Vincent (Director).  Persepolis.  France: 2.4.7 Films, 2007.

Set during the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970’s, it tells the coming-of-age story of a young Iranian girl.  The girl is forced to deal with both a regime change and war, and struggles to deal with the changing social mores. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Schnabel, Julian. Before night falls. USA: Fine Line Features, 2000.

This film is based on the memoir by Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) – who is persecuted due to his homosexuality by the Castro regime and whose final resort in attempting to avoid further persecution is to flee his native country.

Schumacher, Joel (Director). A Time to Kill. 1996. US

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the KKK.

Cf. John Grisham’s novel A Time to Kill.

Scorsese, Martin (Director). Kundun. United States. 1997.

The Tibetans refer to the Dalai Lama as 'Kundun', which means 'The Presence'. He was forced to escape from his native home, Tibet, when communist China invaded and enforced an oppressive regime upon the peaceful nation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959 and has been living in exile in Dharamsala ever since.

(Based on information provided by

Sembene, Ousmane (Director). Moolaade. Senegal, 2004.

Moolaade is a story about one woman's resistance to the traditional practice of female genital mutilation. Sembene offers a novelistically rich portrait of a modern African village torn between three religions: spirit worship, Islam, and free-market globalization. This movie has everything-- scheming imams and heroic feminists, benevolent mercenaries and Paris-educated tribal chiefs, bloody murder and explosions of song and dance. Too wise to mistake the earnest for the serious, Sembene's powerful assault on a cruel religious ritual leaves you feeling surprisingly elated.


Shepard, Richard (Director).  Hunting Party.  United States: Weinstein Company, 2007.


A journalist (Richard Gere) and his crew search out a wanted war criminal deep in Bosnia.  The search become dangerous when the crew is mistaken as a CIA hit squad. (based on information provided at the website below.)


Sheridan, Jim (Director).  In the Name of the Father.  United States:  Universal Studios, 1994.

In the Name of the Father is based on a true story about a young Irish man (Daniel Day-Lewis) who is wrongfully arrested, along with his family, and jailed by the British government on concocted charges of involvement in IRA bombings.  Although the man was apolitical prior to his arrest, the strength his father displays in the face of British torture forces him to speak out to clear his family.  Emma Thompson portrays the attorney that helps Day-Lewis’s character in his fight for justice. [18]

Simoneau, Yves (Director).  Nuremberg.  United States:  Warner Home Video, 2000.

Nuremberg is a fictionalized account of the Nuremberg Trials in which the Allies prosecuted Nazi war criminals.  The film focuses on Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin), the chief prosecutor for the Allies, and the trials of men such as Hermann Goering (Brian Cox).  The film also shows the gravity of the crimes committed during WWII and the controversy surrounding the creation of an international tribunal to try war criminals. [19]

Sivan, Santosh (Director).  The Terrorist.  India: Moderne Gallerie Motion Picture, 1998.

A remarkable Indian portrait of a Malli, a 19-year-old girl whose loved ones have died in an unnamed conflict, who now prepares for a measure of revenge as a suicide bomber.  From the harsh opening, in which Malli executes a traitor, the film follows her river journey--evoking thoughts of Apocalypse Now--and preparations to turn herself into a human bomb. Then Malli learns something that makes her question her assumptions, and as she rediscovers her humanity the drama builds to one of the most nerve-wracking conclusions in recent cinema.  (based on:

Soderbergh, Steven (Director).  Traffic.  United States, USA Films, 2000.

A film that explores the both drug use and the drug trade enterprise from a variety of perspectives.  The United States drug czar (Michael Douglas), whose daughter becomes addicted to crack cocaine.  A housewife, (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose husband is put on trial for his involvement with a drug cartel.  An undercover agent, (Don Cheadle) who works behind the scenes to shut down dealers one at a time.  And a Mexican police officer (Benecio Del Toro) who attempts to fight corruption within his own force to stop the drug trade. 

Spielberg, Steven (Director).  Shindler’s List.  United States:  Universal Studios, 1993.

Shindler’s List tells the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) who saves the lives of more than a 1,000 Jews by employing them in his factory.  Through his struggles against the horrors around him, Schindler is transformed from a self-centered alcoholic and womanizer to a hero.  The movie, which is based on the book by Thomas Keneally, was filmed in Poland with great attention to authenticity. [20]

Spielberg, Stephen (Director).  Amistad.  United States: Dreamworks, 1997

The story of Africans, captured as slaves, who mutinied aboard the ship, La Amistad.  The ship eventually reaches America, and the Africans are imprisoned as runaway slaves.  The Africans are then represented by John Quincy Adams who fights for their rights in the United States Supreme Court.

Spielberg, Stephen (Director).  Saving Private Ryan.  United States: Dreamworks, 1998.

A squad of GI’s (led by Tom Hanks), after successfully landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, undertake a dangerous mission to recover a paratrooper (Matt Damon) lost somewhere deep in German territory.  The opening twenty-five minutes of the film are an unprecedented recreation of D-Day.

Spielberg, Stephen (Director). Munich.  United States: Dreamworks, 2005.

An secret Israeli squad (led by Eric Bana), commissioned by Prime Minister Golda Meier, tracks down the Palestinian terrorists of Black September allegedly responsible for the attack on Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. 

Spottiswoode, Roger.  Under Fire.  United States:  MGM, 1983.

Under Fire tells the story of photographer Russell Price (Nick Nolte) who goes to Nicaragua with a radio journalist.  The two travel with the guerillas fighting against the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Somoza and end up helping the guerrillas fool the world into believing their leader is still alive. [21]

Steven Jr., George (Director) Separate But Equal. 1991. US

This film follows the true story of the NAACP court court challenge of racial school segregation in the Brown vs. Board of Education. This was the struggle would destroy the legal validity for racial segregation in general and prove to be the start and the first major victory of the civil rights movement.

Based on information provided by

Stone, Oliver. Comandante. USA: HBO Documentary, 2003

         This documentary records the director’s (Oliver Stone) meeting with Fidel Castro.

Stone, Oliver (Director).  Heaven and Earth.  United States: Warner Bros., 1993.

Fleeing the violence of the Viet Cong, Le Ly leaves her farming village with her mother for Saigon. After disgracing herself by becoming pregnant with her new master's child, she moves in with her sister and, through hustling the American troops, meets up with Steve Butler. They become lovers and, encouraged by his promises, she agrees to return with him to the strange but wonderful land of "America".  (synopsis from:

Stone, Oliver. Looking for Fidel. USA: Warner Home Video, 2004

This documentary records the director’s (Oliver Stone) interview of Fidel Castro regarding his recent crackdown on Cuban dissidents – also interviewed are men awaiting execution for attempting to hijack a ferry with the intentions of escaping Cuba.

Stone, Oliver (Director).  Platoon.  United States: Orion Pictures, 1986.

A gritty and emotional look at the lives of a platoon of American soldiers as they patrol, fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam as seen through the perspective of a young recruit. Two veteran sergeants clash when one of them precipitates a massacre of villagers.  (synopsis provided by:

Stone, Oliver.  Salvador.  United States:  MGM, 1986.

Salvador, which is based on actual events, is the story of Richard Boyle (James Woods), a freelance photographer who travels to El Salvador in search of freelance work.  Upon his arrival in the country, Boyle witnesses the execution of a student by government troops and realizes the true volatility of the country’s situation.  Boyle then falls in love with Maria and, although he knows he should leave, he refuses to go without the woman he loves. [22]

Suleiman, Elia (Director).  Chronicle of a Disappearance.  Palestine/Israel/USA, 1996.

Deceptively simple and executed with a documentary feel, this film is divided into two sections. The first documents the paradoxical but sleepy existence in the Arab part of Nazareth. The second part takes a more political view of the city and in it, Suleiman takes a more active role. He has come to his former home in search of inspiration, but what he sees are many disturbing images of Arab people trapped in a cultural identity crisis, a point best illustrated by the plight of a young Arab woman who wants more independence than traditionally allowed in her part of town but cannot find it because of prejudiced residents on the Jewish side.  (synopsis from:

Tanovic, Danis (Director).  No Man’s Land.  Bosnia: Noe Productions, 2000.

A film about two soldiers, one Bosnian, and one Serbian, trapped in no man’s land between their lines.  The movie deals with their struggle to solve their predicament, which becomes increasingly tenuous once the press and UN become involved in the situation. 

         Based on synopsis at

Tian, Zhuangzhuang (Director). Horse Thief. China. 1986.

"It's the story of Norbu, ostracized by his community for stealing horses, and so forced into further crime in order to survive. There's hardly any dialogue, but what makes it so absorbing is the stream of stunning widescreen images, from old Tibetan favorites like yaks and those long, booming pipes, to scenes of mesmerizing, arcane rituals--valley coated in swirling scrapes of paper, sheep being buried alive, row upon row of flicking candles. And their dreamlike effect is enhanced by an ethereal sound track of tickling bells, gongs, synthesizers and unearthly voices."

(Film Review by John Wrathall, The Good Times, London. )

Tian, Zhuangzhuang (Director). The Blue Kite. China. 1994.

Originally Banned in China, where the director was under close government scrutiny for making the film "without permission" "The Blue Kite" is the most acclaimed and controversial of all of the films to come out of the new Chinese cinema. Told from the perspective of a young boy, Tietou, it traces the fate of a Beijing family and their neighbors as they experience the political and social upheavals in 1950's and 60's China. Tietous' parents, a librarian and school teacher, both loyal communist party members, soon learn that even the most innocent criticisms can be interpreted by the Party as imperialist propaganda. Over the next fifteen years, Tietous observes the adverse effects of party policy on various members of his family. The only image of hope and freedom offered in the film is a blue kite given to Tietou by his father, which he later passes on to the next generation

(Based on information provided by )

Tort, Gerardo. De la calle. Mexico: 20th Century Fox Film de Mexico, 2001.

         This film portrays the life and struggles of a group of street kids in Mexico City.

Ustaoglu, Yesim (Director).  Journey to the Sun.  Turkey: IFR, 1999.

Mehmet, a young Turkish man newly migrated from the village Tire, takes a job searching for water leaks below the surface of the streets of Istanbul. Due to a strange set of events, he is mistaken for a Kurd, imprisoned, and brutally beaten. Upon his release a week later, he becomes an outcast marked as a Kurd, losing his apartment, his job, and eventually his girl friend, Arzu. When a Kurdish friend, Berzan is killed in a street protest triggered by a hunger strike, Mehmet takes a trek to return the body to Berzan's home village near the Iraqi border, and learns why so many Kurds are refugees.  (synopsis from:

Verhoeven, Michael (Director).  The White Rose.  West Germany: Central Cinema Company Film, 1983.

An award-winning wartime drama based on the true story of a small band of students, including Sophie Stoll, who dared to defy Hitler by printing anti- Nazi leaflets under the Fuhrer's very nose.  (based on:

Vilsmaier, Joseph (Director).  Stalingrad.  German/Russian: B.A. Produktion, 1993.

The film centers around the city of Stalingrad, the site of arguably, in terms of human lives, one of the bloodiest battles of all times.  Over 1.5 million soldiers died during the battle, which lasted nearly a year.  The film follows the progress of a German Platoon through the brutal fighting of the Battle of Stalingrad. After having half their number wiped out and after being placed under the command of a sadistic Captain, the Lieutenant of the platoon leads his men to desert. The men of the platoon attempt to escape from the city, which is now surrounded by the Soviet Army.  (based on:

von Donnersmarck, Florian Henckel (Director).  The Lives of Others.  Germany: Bayerischer Rundfunk, 2006.

Captain Wiesler is a wiretapping expert with the Stasi (East German Secret Police) in the mid-eighties, who becomes disillusioned with his career and life in general.  That changes when his latest assignment, a playwright with views against the totalitarian state, starts to challenge Wiesler’s beliefs through overheard conversations.  (synopsis from:

Wajda, Andrezej (Director).  Danton.  France: Triumph Releasing, 1982.

Georges Danton, a deep believer in liberty and human rights, was one of the main instigators of the French Revolution.  In Danton, he returns to Paris out of retirement to stop Robespierre’s Reign of Terror, a situation which has become almost as unbearable as that under the overthrown king.  Robespierre, though an idealist and believer in liberty, has become tyrannical in trying to control his own government and people.  The movie is a view of the thin line that government must walk between order and oppression. [23]

Welles, Orson (Director).  The Trial.  Germany/Italy/France: Astor, 1963.

Welles’s The Trial is an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel, which examines the nature of random arrest and basic civil rights.  It centers around Joseph K, a man arrested and held for no apparent reason.  The movie does not include the purely psychological elements of the novel, but Welles creates the same kind of oppressive atmosphere. [24]

Winterbottom, Michael (Director).  Welcome to Sarajevo.  UK: Channel Four Films, 1997.

Journalists Flynn (Woody Harrelson) from the US, and Michael Hendorson from the UK and their teams meet the beginning of Bosnian war in Sarajevo. During their reports they find an orphanage run by devoted Mrs. Savic near the front line. Henderson gets so involved in kids' problems that with the help of an aid worker (Marisa Tomei) he decides to take one the children illegally back to England.  (synopsis from:

Whitecross, Mat (Director); Winterbottom, Michael (Director).  Road to Guantanamo.  United Kingdom: Film 4, 2007.

A highly controversial film, based on true events, that casts a critical eye on the treatment of enemy combatants.  The films tells the story of three British citizens, captured by the Northern Alliance and eventually held prisoner at Camp Delta in Guantanomo Bay. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Winterbottom, Michael (Director).  A Mighty Heart.  United States: Paramount Vantage, 2007.

Angelina Jolie portrays Marianne Pearl, the real life wife of Daniel Pearl, a journalist who was kidnapped and killed in Pakistan while researching a story on terrorist Richard Reid.  The film follows Marianne’s investigation into what happened to her husband and why. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Winkler, Irvin (Director), Guilty by Suspicion, 1991

Guilty by Suspicion is a fictional dramatization of the Hollywood Blacklist period. It captures the essence of Hollywood during the 1950s when McCarthy and the House Un-American Committee were at the peak of power. Set during 1951, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) held hearings to target alleged Communist affiliations within the Hollywood filmmaking community, the film stars Robert De Niro as a prominent director who is urged to "name names" to appease the committee. Rather than betray one of his closest friends, he refuses to "cooperate" with the committee and is quickly blacklisted, his entire career in jeopardy. Guilty by Suspicion illuminates the unconstitutional evil of the blacklist era while offering a glimpse behind the scenes of Hollywood's past.

Wizan, Joe (Director). …And Justice For All. 1979. Columbia/Malton.

When a corrupt judge is charged with rape, Arthur Kirkland must defend him. Kirkland has had problems with the judge in the past, including one incident when the judge wrongly sentenced his client Jeff McCullaugh because of a technicality. Kirkland faces a moral and legal dilemma, especially difficult because the judge admits he is guilty.

(Based on information provided by )

Yuan, Zhang (Director).  East Palace, West Palace.  China: Amazon Entertainment Ltd., 1997.

In China, homosexuality isn't illegal, but homosexuals are routinely persecuted by police and arrested for "hooliganism". The film focuses on a young gay writer who manages to have himself interrogated for a whole night.  During the interrogation he manages to tell his life story which reflects both his treatment as a homosexual in China and the general repression of Chinese society.  (based on:

Zhang, Yimou (Director). The Story of Qiuju. China. 1992.

A pregnant peasant woman seeks redress from the Chinese bureaucracy after the village chief kicks her husband in the groin in this comedy of justice. As she is frustrated by each level of the hierarchy and travels farther and farther away from the countryside the viewer is also provided with a look at the changing Chinese society through the verite camera used in most scenes.

(Based on information provided by

Zhang, Yimou (Director). To Live. China. 1992.

One of the best films of 1994, To Live is a bold, energetic masterpiece from Zhang Yimou, the foremost director from China's influential "fifth generation" of filmmakers. Continuing his brilliant collaboration with China's best-known actress Gong Li (their previous films include Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern), Zhang weaves an ambitious tapestry of personal and political events, following the struggles of an impoverished husband and wife (Ge You, Gong Li) from their heyday in the 1940s to the hardships that accompanied the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. They raise two children amidst a Communist regime, surviving numerous setbacks and yet managing, somehow, to live. Both intimate and epic, Zhang's film encompasses the simplest and most profound realities of Chinese life during this controversial period, and for their honesty, Zhang and Gong Li faced a two-year ban on future collaborations. To Live is a testament to their art, transcending politics to celebrate the tenacity of ordinary people in the wake of turbulent history. --Jeff Shannon

(Based on film review published on

Zhang, Yuan (Director). Beijing Bastard. China. 1990.

         Chinese Six Generation filmmaker Zhang Yuan’s first masterpiece, story of Beijing underground youth’s life after 1989 Tiananmen.

Zinnemann, Fred (Director).  A Man for All Seasons.  UK: Highland Films, 1966.

         The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. 

Zwick, Edward (Director). Blood Diamond.  United States: Warner Bros., 2006

A smuggler (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) join forces during the civil war in 1999 in Sierra Leone.  The smuggler wants to recover a rare diamond, while the fisherman seeks to rescue his son who has been forced to fight as a child soldier. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Zwick, Edward (Director).  Glory.  United States: Columbia Tristar, 1989.

The story of the first African American company serving under Colonel Robert G. Shaw (Matthew Broderick) during the civil war.  Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman star as soldiers serving under Shaw.  Together, the company fights racial discrimination from both Confederate soldiers, and within their own company.

Zwick, Edward (Director).  The Last Samurai.  United States: Warner Bros., 2003.

The story of Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), an American military officer is hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country's army in the art of modern warfare.  As the Emperor eradicates the ancient Samurai warriors Algren learns about the Samurai and aligns himself with the Samurai’s plight, placing him in the middle of an epic struggle. (based on information provided at the website below.)

Zwick, Edward (Director).  The Siege.  United States: 20th Century Fox, 1998.

After the U.S. military abducts an Islamic religious leader, New York City becomes the target of escalating terrorist attacks.  The head of the FBI's Counter-Intelligence Task Force (Denzel Washington), teams up with a CIA operative Elise Kraft (Annette Benning) to hunt down the terrorist cells responsible for the attacks. As the bombings continue, the US government declares martial law, sending US troops, led by Gen. Devereaux (Bruce Willis), into the streets of New York City. (based on information provided at the website below.)



* Indicates Academy Award nomination or win 

** Based on the synopsis provided at,

*** Based on the summary at the Internet Movie Database, 

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

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

[3] Based on the review by Amazon:

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

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

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

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

[8] Based on the review from

[9] Based on the synopsis provided on Yahoo! Movies:

[10] Based on the review from

[11] Based on the review from

[12] Based on the review from

[13] Based on the synopsis by Eleanor Mannika on the All-Movie Guide:

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

[15] Based on the review from

[16] Based on the review from

[17] Based on the synopsis by Sandra Brennan on the All-Movie Guide:

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

[19] Based on the review by Amazon:

[20] Based on the review by Amazon:

[21] Based on a synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka on the All-Movie Guide:

[22] Based on a synopsis by Mark Deming on the All-Movie Guide:

[23] Based on the review from

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

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