popcorn3Popcorn Peacemaking is a peaceCENTER program that uses popular, readily available videos to explore the history and principles of peace and justice and to gain fluency in talking about difficult issues. Did you know: in Spanish, popcorn is called palomitas de maiz —little doves of corn. In this section you will find:  (1) A suggested question format for discussing films in groups  (2) Discussion guides for six movies  and (3) A  list of hundreds of films we have found useful in sparking lively discussions about important and controversial issues.

Question Format for Movie Conversations

This format was developed in order to “spiral” a conversation down to a deeper level and to explore what a movie might have to say to us as individuals and as a society. The format begins with questions that everybody can answer — the facilitator should make sure that everyone gets at least one response in at the objective level, this makes it easier for participants to choose to participate at the “harder” question levels. All of the questions listed are suggestions— once you get the idea of the kind of question that belongs in each category you can make up your own. Ask questions only for as long as you want that part of the conversation to last — you don’t have to ask all the questions! When facilitating the conversation, when you feel like the group is ready to move on to a deeper level in the conversation you ask a deeper question and skip the rest of the questions you have at that level.


(What do you remember?)

  • What words do you remember . . .  sounds, music…?
  • What scene is still playing in your head?
  • Who were the main characters— their names/ relationships?


(What happened?)

  • Were you surprised at anything the characters said, did…?
  • At what point did the audience/you laugh? Why?
  • Did you find yourself looking around to see if anyone was crying? When?
  • How did this movie make you feel? Frustrated, angry, elated… Why?


(What was this movie all about?)

  • What was the creator of the movie trying to say? or What did the movie say?
  • Is there a bigger story behind the movie?
  • Why do you think the creator made the movie?
  • What questions were raised for you?
  • What social/political/ psychological statement was made?
  • Have you seen anything like this happen in your life?


(What relevance does this movie have to my life?)

  • Who did you identify with? Why?
  • Is it relevant/true/happening today? Why..?
  • Is this an issue that you, personally, would like to see something done about? What could be done?
  • Has the issue been addressed in other places or times?
  • If you were going to begin to exert your influence to change things, what would you do? What could you do?


It can be useful to show a film to a class, but often there is not time to allow for a full-length movie, context, reflection and discussion.  In these six guides prepared by the peaceCENTER you will find, in addition to historical context and suggested discussion question, pointers to several short clips that you can incorporate into your classes:


1969 to Cry, the Beloved Country

1969 (1988) (R) The death of a young man is the catalyst needed to bridge the gap between father and son and enlighten them both to the true cost of war. 

1984 (1984) (R) George Orwell’s novel of a totalitarian future society in which a man whose daily work is rewriting history tries to rebel by falling in love. With Richard Burton 

4 Little Girls (1997) (NR) Recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Spike Lee. 

Absolution (1978) (R) Richard Burton plays a priest in a British Catholic school who goes mad when he cannot report a murder he learned about in confession. Weird movie. 

Alamo Bay (1985) (R) A despondent Vietnam veteran in danger of losing his livelihood is pushed to the edge when he sees Vietnamese immigrants moving into the fishing industry in a Texas bay town.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, 1979) A young German soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. 

Amadeus (1984) (PG) The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback mode by Antonio Salieri— now confined to an insane asylum.

Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987) After taking a tour of a nuclear silo, Chuck decides to quit playing little league until nuclear weapons are disarmed. 

Amelie (2001) (R) A single waitress who decides to help other lonely people fix their lives. French, with subtitles. 

American History X (1998) (R) A former neo-Nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did. 

American Beauty (1999) (R) Chronicles the last year in the life of 42 year-old hack magazine writer , a suburban loser that has had it with his humdrum life and decides to make a few changes to regain control.

American Me (1992) (R) Gang Violence in Los Angeles. 

Angel and the Badman (1947) A wounded gunslinger is nursed by a Quaker family When he falls in love with their daughter he has to decide whether to forsake his violent life. John Wayne. 

Amistad (1997) Fact-based story of the 1839 revolt by Africans on the slave ship Amistad and their subsequent trial when they are taken on American soil. 

And Justice for All (1979) (R) A satirical drama that looks at our judicial system. 

Animal Farm (1955 and 1999) George Orwell’s classic satire on Stalinism, with the animals taking over their farm by means of a revolutionary coup, but then discovering that although all animals are supposed to be equal, some are more equal than others. Animated, but not for young children. 

The Apostle (1997) A womanizing Pentecostal minister who is forced to leave his Texas home (and church) after committing a violent act. Fascinating study of a wayward man’s journey to understand his life, and the many people who help him find his way. 

Apt Pupil (1998) (R) A bright schoolboy discovers a wanted Nazi war criminal is living in his town and blackmails him into telling stories (“everything they’re afraid to show us in school”) of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Atonement (2008) When Briony Tallis, 13 years old and an aspiring writer, sees her older sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner at the fountain in front of the family estate she misinterprets what is happening thus setting into motion a series of misunderstandings and a childish pique that will have lasting repercussions for all of them.

At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1991) Missionaries travel to the Brazilian rain forest and make a mess of everything. 

Au Revoir les Enfants (1987) A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives.

Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) Story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Babe (1995) Babe is a little pig who doesn’t quite know his place in the world and learns that a pig can be anything that he wants to be.

Babe: Pig in the City (1998) Sequel – Babe in the big city.

Babette’s Feast (1987) Babette prepares the feast of a lifetime for the members of a tiny Danish Protestant church.

The Basket (1999) (PG) A Pacific Northwest community raising its wheat and children in the midst of a nation reeling from World War I.

Beaches (1988)   When the New York child performer CC Bloom and San Francisco rich kid Hillary meet in a holiday resort in Atlantic City, it marks the start of a lifetime friendship between them. The two keep in touch through letters for a number of years until Hillary, now a successful lawyer, moves to New York to stay with struggling singer CC. The movie shows the various stages of their friendship and their romances, including their love for the same man.

 Beauty and the Beast (1983) (NR) Beauty discovers that ugliness can disguise great goodness. Faerie Tale Theater. 

Behind the Lines (1998) (R) Based on true events, a pioneering psychiatrist works with shell-shocked WWI soldiers in a gentle, humane manner that contrasts sharply with the brutality of his colleagues. 

Being Human (1994) (PG-13) Robin Williams stars in five stories, each one taking place during a different historical period. He’s either losing or looking for his family. 

Beloved (1998) Life of Sethe, a former slave who has rebuilt what seems to be a peaceful, productive life in Ohio. 

Beyond Rangoon (1995) Based on a true story. In the 90’s, the American doctor Laura Bowman travels to Burma (presently Myanmar), sees a political pro-democracy manifestation to support the leader Aung San Suu Kyi and decides to participate.

Billy Elliott (2000) A talented young boy becomes torn between his unexpected love of dance and the disintegration of his family.

Blow Dry (2001) When the tiny burgh of Keighley lands the rights to host the annual British hairdressing championships, practically every city in the United Kingdom is represented in the competition — except Keighley itself. The event is team-oriented, and the only suitable local contestants had a huge falling out a decade ago.

 Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (2000) About the struggles and martyrdom of a Lutheran pastor during WWII. 

Birth of a Nation (1915) (NR) The consequences of the War in the lives of two brothers are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln’s assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. A silent movie classic, crippled by racism of the time. 

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2011) A message in a bottle sparks a correspondence between a Palestinian and an Israeli teen.

Bound for Glory (1975) Biography of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, the Depression-era vagabond whose working class music affected generations.

Brazil (1985) (R) An unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy. 

Bright Shining Lie (1998) (R) Based on Neil Sheehan’s controversial book about the making of the Vietnam war. 

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973) Story of St. Francis of Assisi.

A Bug’s Life (1998) A misfit ant, looking for warriors to save his colony from grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe. 

The Burning Season (1994) (R) Activist Chico Mendes is murdered while fighting to protect his people in the Amazon rain forest.

Cèsar Chàvez (2014) A biography of the civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cèsar Chàvez.

Chariots of Fire (1981) Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Charlotte’s Web (1973) (G) This animated feature based on the popular E.B. White book for children—about the special relationships between Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, and Templeton the rat—is a straight adaptation from the page, with songs added.

Chicken Run (2000) Our plucky heroines face a lifetime of hard labor laying for the farmers, and if their performance is not up to par they quite literally face the chop. Ginger, making her way to the top of the pecking order attempts jailbreak after farcical jailbreak, but success is less than forthcoming. 

Children of a Lesser God (1986) (R) A deaf and a hearing world trying to survive after they join in love.

Children of Heaven (1997) Two poor Iranian children share a pair of shoes. 

Chinatown (1974) (R) A private eye led into a complex, volatile case by femme fatale, but also has an interesting side plot about water rights. 

Children of Rage (1977) (PG) A Palestinian family torn apart by the Middle East conflict 

Chocolat (2001) 1960, small town France. a woman and her daughter move into town and open a chocolate shop just as Lent is beginning. 

The Christmas Coal Mine Miracle (1977) (NR) Tragedy strikes a small mining community one fateful Christmas Eve in 1951 when a series of explosions strike a mine notorious for its unsafe conditions.

Cinema Paradiso (1990) A boy who grew up in a Sicilian Village returns home as a famous director after receiving news about the death of his old friend, Alfredo.

City of Joy (1992) An American surgeon loses a young patient, quits the medical profession and goes to India to find himself. 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (PG) A line worker, after a encounter with UFO’s, feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. 

The Color of Courage (1999) 1940’s Sipes v. McGhee trial – the case which considered the question of the legality of restrictive deed covenants which created segregated neighborhoods and kept blacks out of all white neighborhoods.

The Color of Paradise (1981) A father is estranged from his son, a student at Tehran’s Institute for the Blind.

The Color Purple (1985) Follows the life of Celie Johnson, a young African-American woman,  as she struggles through life in the early 1900s.

Commandments (1997) (R) Aidan Quinn plays a man so aggrieved by his misfortunes that he vows to break each of God’s Ten Commandments in revenge. But even that act of profound defiance doesn’t quite work out the way he planned, and the character undergoes a mythic–some would say biblical–experience of a different kind. 

Crimes and Misdemeanors(1989) A provocative and unsettling study of divergent moralities and the price we’re willing to pay to preserve our personal comfort and happiness. 

Crisis at Central High (1981) Events surrounding the 1957 integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

The Crucible (1996) (PG-13) An adaption of the famous play concerning the Salem witch trials. 

Cry Freedom (1987) A white newspaper editor befriends South African Black political activist Steve Biko. 

Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) The lives of a black, country priest and a white wealthy landowner in South Africa in the 1940’s. Themes of religion, politics, faith, healing, mercy and justice.

Dance With the White Dog to Freedom Song

 Dance With the White Dog (1993) (PG) When Sam Peek’s beloved wife, Cora, dies, a white dog suddenly materializes as his new companion and confidant. Sam takes the dog on a nostalgic journey which dramatizes the fulfillment he shared with his departed wife. 

Dances with Wolves (1990) About an idealistic young Civil War soldier who makes friends with a Sioux Indian tribe and, becomes one of them.

Day Without a Mexican (2004) When a mysterious fog surrounds the boundaries of California, there is a communication breakdown and all the Mexicans disappear, affecting the economy and the state stops working missing the Mexican workers and dwellers. 

Dead Poets Society (1989) Robin Williams is a charismatic English teacher at a staid New England prep school in 1959, whose infectious love of poetry–and insistence that each boy “seize the day” and make the most of life— inspires his impressionable students, not always in the right direction. 

Dead Man Walking (R) (1995) Based on the book by Sr. Helen Prejean, examines the issue of capital punishment from a humanitarian perspective, and urges thoughtful reflection on the justifications for legally ending a human life. 

Death and the Maiden (R) (1994) A political activist is convinced that her guest is a man who once tortured her.

Diary of Ann Frank (1959) Harrowing story of a young Jewish girl who, with her family and their friends is forced into hiding in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

Digging to China (1998) A small girl befriends a mentally challenged man. 

Divided We Fall (2000) (PG-13) Czech with English Subtitles. Captures the pervasive suspicion and betrayal of World War II through the unexpected guise of situation comedy. 

Do the Right Thing (1989) (R) On a hot day on a New York City street, everyone’s hate and bigotry smoulders and builds until it explodes into violence. 

Don Quixote (2000) The classic tale of a man’s dream, his epic journey, and one true love.

Doubt (2008)  A Catholic school principal questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student. 

Down Came a Blackbird (1995) A journalist struggling to regain control of her life a year after she was abducted and tortured in Central America. She goes to a clinic for survivors of torture, where she reflects on her experiences and learns about others who have suffered similar experiences.

A Dry White Season (1989) (R) When his gardener’s son is brutally beaten by the police at a demonstration by black school children, a schoolteacher in South Africa begins to realize his society is built on a pillar of injustice and exploitation. 

Dr. Strangelove (1964) At the height of the cold war, a black comedy about the arms race and nuclear holocaust.

 Enchanted April (1992)Lottie and Rose, two married women living in a 1920s London, share the misery of empty relationships with their spouses and decide to rent an Italian villa for the month of April to get away.

Entertaining Angels – The Dorothy Day Story (1996) Dorothy Day’s spiritual evolution from a journalist and suffragette in Greenwich Village to her conversion to Roman Catholicism and her devotion to helping the poor. 

Erin Brockovich (2000) (R) An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply.

E.T. (1982) A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home 

Eva Peron (1996) (R) An Argentinian-made film of the life of Eva Peron. 

Evita (1996) (R) A musical telling of the life of Argentinian actress and kingmaker, Eva Peron. Starring Madonna.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Based on the 1951 Ray Bradbury novel, a firefighter lives in a lonely, isolated society where books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public. 

A Farewell to Arms (1932) Hemingway’s WWI love story also analyses Lt. Henry’s feelings on war and the purpose of fighting. 

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) (PG-13) History of the Manhattan Project, the atomic testing project that led to the U.S. bombing of Japan during World War II. 

Field of Dreams (1989) An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come. 

Fire on the Amazon (1993) (R) Struggle among ranchers, rubber tappers and loggers for the fate of the Amazon. 

The Fisher King (1991) (R) A radio DJ,  despondent because of a horrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was a victim of it.

Fly Away Home (1996) A father and daughter decide to attempt to lead a flock of orphaned Canada Geese south by air. 

Forrest Gump (1994) Unlikely story of a slow-witted but good-hearted man somehow at the center of the pivotal events of the 20th century.

The Fourth Wise Man (1985) A  young Magus who desires to follow the star to the birthplace of the coming Messiah misses the event because he keeps stopping to help people.

  Freedom Song (2000) A fictionalized account of the civil rights movement.

Gandhi to Judgement at Nuremberg

Gandhi (1982) Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor Oscars. Sweeping account of the life and times of Mohandas Gandhi. 

Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred. 

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) (PG-13) Alec Baldwin stars as a lawyer in this true story of the re-trial of the murderer of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. 

Girl, Interrupted (2000) (R) A young women is involuntarily committed to a mental institution in 1967 and decides that the inmates are saner than the war-torn world outside.. 

The Glass Menagerie (1987) (PG) A son longs to escape from his stifling home, where his genteel mother worries about the future prospects of his lame, shy sister.

The God’s Must be Crazy (1980) A bushman in the Kalahari encounters technology for the first time – in the shape of a Coke bottle.

The Goodbye Bird (1993) Boy accused of stealing a parrot ends up starting an animal shelter. 

Gorillas in the Mist (1988) (PG-13) The story of Dian Fossey, a scientist who came to Africa to study the vanishing mountain gorillas, and later fought to protect them. 

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) (NR) A poor mid-west family are forced off their land and travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

The Great Debaters (2007) A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at historically black Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. The final debate is about nonviolence. 

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) (NR) The life of Jesus Christ 

The Green Mile (1999) The story about the lives of guards on death row leading up to the execution of a wrongly accused man who has the power of faith healing. 

Harlan County War (1982) A Kentucky woman whose mine-worker husband is nearly killed in a cave-in, and whose father is slowly dying of black lung disease, joins the picket lines for a long, violent strike.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) (PG) Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harvest of Fire (1982) A female FBI agent comes to a distrustful Amish community to investigate a multiple building arson incident. 

Heat Wave (R) (1990) An African-American messenger working for the LA. Times plays a key role in winning the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 1965 Watts riots.

The Help (2011) An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis. 

The Hiding Place (1975) Corrie Ten Boom, a middle-aged Dutch watchmaker’s daughter, became a heroine of the Resistance and aids Jews in WWII. 

The Horse Whisperer (1998) The mother of a severely traumatized daughter enlists the aid of a unique horse trainer to help the girl’s equally injured horse. 

The Hurricane (1999) The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence. 

I Am Sam (2001) (PG-13) A developmentally disabled man fights for custody of his 7- year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold-hearted lawyer the value of love and family.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979) Based on writer Maya Angelou’s childhood, this story is about a young girl in the South who is sent to live with her grandmother after her parents divorce.

 It’s a Wonderful Life (1939) On the Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls, the guardian angel Clarence is assigned to convince the desperate George Bailey not to commit suicide.

 I Will Fight No More Forever (1975) A chronicle of the war between the United States Army and the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph. 

In the Name of the Father (1993) (R) Man’s coerced confession to an IRA bombing he didn’t do imprisons his father as well; a British lawyer helps fight for their freedom. 

In the Presence of Mine Enemies (1996) A Rabbi in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland in 1942 fights to maintain his stance of peace and acceptance of his fellow man despite the growing turmoil and atrocities created by the Nazis. 

In This House of Brede (1975) (NR) A well-to-do London businesswoman (Diana Rigg) gives up her comfortable life to become a cloistered Benedictine nun. Based on the Rumor Godden novel.

Indian in the Cupboard (1995) A sensitive boy discovers a way to bring plastic toys to life in a locked cupboard. 

Inherit the Wind (1960, 1999) Based on a real-life case in 1925, two great lawyers argue the case for and against a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution.

Invictus (2009)  The inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country.

The Iron Giant (1999) A boy makes friends with an innocent alien giant robot that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy. 

It’s the Rage (1999) Handguns figure in the intertwining lives of nine people.

I’ve Loved You So Long (2007) This powerful story of familial struggles and redemption follows a shell-shocked Juliette, who returns to live with her young sister Lea after being banished from the family for 15 years.

Jakob the Liar (1999) Without ever really owning a radio, Jakob begins to falsely create stories to please the ghetto. By doing this, Jakob lifts the morale of the ghetto but also places the entire population in danger from the German army.

Jean de Florette (1986) In a rural French village an old man and his only remaining relative cast their covetous eyes on an adjoining vacant property. They need its spring water for growing their flowers, so are dismayed to hear that the man who has inherited it is moving in.

Jesus of Montreal (1990) A group of actors put on an unorthodox Passion Play which incites the opposition of the Catholic Church while the actors’ lives themselves begin to mirror the Passion itself.

Jesus’ Son (1999) A young man turns from drug addiction and petty crime to a life redeemed by a discovery of compassion. 

Joan of Arc (1948, 1999) A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors. 

John Q (2002) (PG-13) A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant, takes the hospital’s emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation. 

Jonah, Who will be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976) Literate, engaging comedy about eight individuals affected by the political events of the late ’60s in France.

Joshua (2002) One day a stranger named Joshua comes to the small town of Auburn and begins to help out in small, but miraculous ways. As Joshua’s reputation and popularity grow, a local, embittered clergyman believes that Joshua is a false prophet trying to cheat the people and reports him to the Vatican for condemnation.

 Joyeux Noel (2005) On the Christmas Eve of 1914, along the Eastern border of Alsace Lorrain in France during World War I, the Scottish, German and French troops share a moment of truce and friendship. Based on true events.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) American judges try Nazi war criminals.

To Kill a Mockingbird to My Son the Fanatic

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Powerfully resonant film in its advocacy of tolerance, justice, integrity, and loving, responsible parenthood. 

Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994) (NR) The daughter of a desperately poor Indian family in South Dakota is swept up in the protests of the 1960s and becomes sensitized to the injustices that society inflicts on her people. Based on autobiography.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) (R) At his execution, Jesus is tempted by an alluring image of a peaceful and pleasant life with Mary Magdelene to try to get him to refuse the sacrifice he must make. 

Lean on Me (1989) The story of “Crazy Joe” Clark, the real-life baseball bat, bullhorn toting high school principal from New Jersey who whips his students into shape by bolstering and bullying them. 

Le Chambon: La Colline Aux Mille Enfants (1997) Based on the true story of a French village, which under the guidance of its Protestant pastor saved more than 5,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. 

The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) (PG-13) A down-and-out golfer attempts to recover his game and his life with help from a mystical caddy. 

Life is Beuatiful (1998) A Jew in a concentration camp in Italy stages an elaborate ruse to shield his young son from the horror.

A Lesson Before Dying (1999) Young black man in 1948 executed for murder, based on award-winning novel. 

Liam (2000) (R) A morality tale of xenophobia, religious prejudice, mob violence, poverty, and their effect on two children in Liverpool during the Depression. 

Little Buddha (1993) (PG) A Tibetan monk hears that an American boy may be the reincarnation of an important lama, Siddhartha, the Indian prince who renounced worldly pleasures and religious extremism to find the Middle Way of Buddhist truth. 

Local Hero (1983) An American oil company sends a man to Scotland to buy up an entire village where they want to build a refinery. 

The Long Walk Home (1991) A story set against the backdrop of the emerging civil rights movement and the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1950s South. 

Losing Isaiah (1995) (R) Halle Berry is a crack user who abandons her baby then wants him back. 

Magnolia (1999) (R) A mosaic of misery, with an array of characters ranging from a dying man and his angelic male nurse to a precocious kid pressured to perform on a TV game show-who must deal with anger, guilt, isolation, the sins of the fathers, and ultimately, forgiveness, on an almost Biblical level. 

Malcolm X (1992) Faithful and moving adaptation of the Autobiography of Malcolm X. 

Mama Flora’s Family (1998) Based on a story by Alex Haley, traces the story of an African-American family from 1900 to the present.

A Man for All Seasons (1966) (NR) Standoff between King Henry VIII and Sir Thomas More about morals vs. practicality. 

Mandela and DeKlerk (1997) (PG-13) Mandela’s 30-year odyssey from opponent of apartheid to president of South Africa. Sidney Poitier as Mandela; Michael Caine as DeKlerk.

 Mannon of the Spring (1986) In this, the sequel to Jean de Florette, Mannon has grown into a beautiful young shepherdess living in the idyllic Provencal countryside. She is determined to take revenge upon the men responsible for the death of her father in the first film, Jean de Florette, but a miraculous event changes her heart.

   A Map of the World (1999) After an accident on her property involving a friend’s child, the town turns against her and Alice finds herself fighting charges of child abuse. 

Master Harold and the Boys (1985) (PG-13) Based on the play by Athol Fugard, set in 1950 South Africa a young man turns vicious towards two family servants.

Matewan (1987) A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company. 

The Matrix (1999) A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it. 

A Merry War (1997) aka “Keep the Aspidistra Flying,” based on the essay by George Orwell. Comedy-satire about an advertising man who is captivated by the concept of offering his life to “art. ”

The Message (1988) Also called “Mohammed, Messenger of God,” about the birth of Islam. 

Michael Collins (1996) (R) Controversial biography of IRA leader Michael Collins. 

Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) (R) A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors. Milla Jovovich as Joan, directed by Luc Besson. 

Midnight Express (1978) (R) True story of a man who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into a barbaric prison. 

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) (R) Rural New Mexico community organizes to fight a ruthless and corrupt developer. 

The Miracle (1959) (NR) During the war of 1812, a young nun leaves the convent to search for a series of romantic adventures, and during her journey the statue of the virgin Mary descends from the pedestal and takes the young nun’s place until her return. 

The Miracle Worker (1962) (NR) The story of Anne Sullivan’s struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.

Miracle at Midnight (1998) A Danish family are front-runners in a clandestine operation to transport over 7,000 Jews to neutral Sweden, while averting Nazi arrest. 

Les Misérables (1998) A thief, redeemed by the power of love and forgiveness, has his past life exposed. With Liam Neeson. 

The Mission (1986) About two Jesuit missionaries in 18th Century Brazil, western imperialism and conflicting styles in striving for noble goals. 

Mississippi Burning (R) (1988) Fictionalized account of a the murder of three young civil rights workers who were part of a 1964 voter registration drive in Mississippi. 

Miss Evers’ Boys (1997) Program designed to treat syphilis among blacks in the South was twisted into an inhuman study. 

The Molly McGuires (1970) In 1876 in Pennsylvania, a secret group of Irish emigrant miners, fights against the cruelty of the mining company with sabotage and murder. 

Moulin Rouge (2001) (PG-13) A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets 

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1996) A musician grudgingly takes a job as a high school music teacher and is slow to recognize the impact he has on those around him. 

Murder in the First (1995) (R) Inspired by a true story. A petty criminal sent to Alcatraz in the 1930s and put in solitary confinement. years, only to emerge a madman and soon to be a murderer. A rookie lawyer attempts to prove that Alcatraz was to blame. 

Music of the Heart (1999) Biopic about Roberta Guaspari, a divorced mother of two who created an acclaimed music program in East Harlem’s troubled school system. 

My Family (Mi Familia) (1995) (R) Account of one family’s struggle to stay together and survive the mean streets of East Los Angeles. 

My Own Country (1998) (R) An East Indian doctor settles in Johnson City, Tennessee. and takes AIDS as his personal crusade.. 

My Son the Fanatic (1997) (R) A taxi driver can’t understand why his son has turned to Muslim fundamentalism, calling the Western world of their corner of London corrupt and driven by sex.

Native Son to The Power of One

Native Son (1986) A Black Chauffeur kills a white woman when he fears the consequences of being caught alone in a room with her. 

Nazarin (1958) Nazarin is a priest, attempting to living a pure and honest life strictly according to Christian principles – but others only show him distrust. Directed by Luis Buñuel. Spanish with English subtitles. 

Nixon (1995) (R) The story of Richard M. Nixon, former president of the United States whose presidency ended in disgrace. 

No More Baths (1998) Children use nonviolent protest to keep an old man from being evicted to make room for an upscale housing development. 

Noriega: God’s Favorite (2000) Account of the streetwise thug who brutalized his countrymen as the military ruler of Panama in the 1980s.

Norma Rae (1979) A young single mother agrees to help unionize her textile mill. 

Nuremberg (2000) Trial of Nazi war criminals following the Allied victory in Europe in World War II. 

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (1992) Nicks the plot line of Homer’s Odyssey for a comic picaresque saga about three cons on the run in 1930s Mississippi. 

Of Mice and Men (1992) Two drifters, one a gentle but slow giant, try to make money working the fields during the Depression so they can fulfill their dreams.

The Official Story (1985) (R) The collision of middle-class aspirations and government lies in Argentina 

Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored (1996) A narrator tells the story of his childhood years in a tightly knit Afro-American community in the deep south under racial segregation. 

One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest (1975) (R) A man sent to a mental hospital finds the head nurse a lot more dangerous than the other patients. 

One True Thing (1998) A career woman reassesses her parents’ lives after she is forced to care for her cancer-stricken mother. 

Ordinary People (1980) (R) Oscar Best Picture. Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son..

The Ox Bow Incident (1943) Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. 

Pay it Forward (2000) A young boy attempts to make the world a better place. 

Philadelphia (1993) When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.. 

Pleasantville (1998) 1990s kids transported back into the sanitized world of 1950s sitcoms 

The Power of One (1992) A man raised in an African orphanage uses boxing to bring education and fight apartheid in South Africa.

The Quiet Room to Twentyfour Seven

The Quiet Room (1997) A little girl becomes so tired and freaked out by her parents fighting that she decides not to speak.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961) An African American family in Chicago struggles with mixed aspirations, not enough money, conflicts over religion, and institutional racism.

A Rat’s Tale (1998) (G) When two young rats from different socio-economic levels meet, their true love must endure adventures, family disputes and the discovery of their own strengths before their life together can begin.

 The Reader (2008) In post-WWII Germany, after a summer affair with a mysterious older woman, the youthful barrister Michael Berg loses contact with her. Ten years later he encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war crimes trial and wrestles with a secret.

Reds (1981) (PG) The story of John Reed and Louise Bryant based on the book”The Education of John Reed.” 

Remember the Titans (2000) The true story of an newly appointed African- American coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

Romeo and Juliet (1999) Shakespeare’s tragic tale about two young lovers and their warring families 

Romero (1989) Vivid biography of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who stood up for social justice and nonviolence. 

Rosewood (1997) (R) Fact-based story of two neighboring Florida towns, circa 1922-23, and the festering racism that threatens to explode into violence and destroy a law-abiding Black community.

Ruby Bridges (1998) Disney movie about desegregation in the 1960s 

Sadat (1989) A real-life, flawed, human who overcame a whole world of prejudice, somehow, in order to help change our world. 

Salt of the Earth (1954) (NR) Based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, the film deals with the prejudice against the Mexican-American workers, who struck to attain wage parity with Anglo workers in other mines and to be treated with dignity by the bosses.

Salvador (1986) (R) True-life account of the violent civil war in El Salvador. 

Sarafina! (1992) A bright young student who is inspired by her teacher (Whoopi Goldberg) to dream of a better tomorrow in South Africa.

Savior (1998) (R) Based on true accounts of the early ’90s ethnic clashes between Serbia and neighboring states. 

Schindler’s List (R) (1993) Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about Catholic war profiteer Oskar Schindler ,who risked his life and went bankrupt to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps. 

Secret of NIMH (1982) (G) To save her invalid son, a field mouse must seek the aid of a colony of super-intelligent rats. 

Selma (2014) A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

Separate But Equal (1991) About Thurgood Marshall’s arguing the historic Brown vs. Board of Education case in 1954.

Serving in Silence (1995) The true story of a decorated officer’s legal challenge to her involuntary discharge when she admitted she was homosexual. 

Seven Years in Tibet (1995) An Australian mountaineer/adventurer is selfish and arrogant–until he learns humility in Tibet. 

Shadowlands (1993) British writer C. S. Lewis comfortable if rigid life as an Oxford don in the 1950s is shaken by his meeting with a forthright American poet, Joy Gresham. 

Shadrach (1998) In 1935, 99-year-old former slave Shadrach asks to be buried on the soil where he was born to slavery. 

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Straight-arrow banker Robbins is railroaded for a double murder and sent to prison for life in the late 1940s. 

Shrek (2001) (PG) A reclusive ogre and a chatterbox donkey go on a quest to rescue a princess for a tyrannical midget lord. 

Silkwood (1983) (R) The story of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear reactor worker who might have been murdered to prevent her expose of wrongdoing at the power plant.

The Simpson’s Christmas Special (1989) (NR) The Simpsons discover the true meaning of Christmas.. 

Skokie (1981) How a town became embroiled in a bitter controversy while trying to prevent street demonstrations by neo- Nazis in 1977. 

Sophie’s Choice (1982) (R) A Polish woman’s attempt to justify her existence in America after surviving a living hell during WWII. 

Smoke Signals (1988) (PG-13)  Based on the novel “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” by Sherman Alexie, the story follows Victor Joseph as he goes to collect the remains of his father, who had abandoned his family and moved to Arizona; his wise friend Thomas Builds-the-Fire goes with him on a trip from their reservation in Idaho. Along the way they rediscover their pasts and their perceptions of the world around them.

A Soldier’s Story (1984) (PG) Brilliantly intense adaptation of the Charles Fuller play about internal conflicts among black soldiers. in WWII Louisana. 

Sounder (1972) A family of Black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, face a serious family crisis when the husband and father is convicted of a petty crime and sent to a prison camp. 

Spitfire Grill (1972) Upon being released from prison, a young woman goes to the small town of Gilead, to find a place where she can start over again.

Stigmata (1999) (R) A vatican priest is assigned to investigate a young American who appears to be afflicted with stigmata. 

Strawberry Fields (1997) A young woman traces her family’s history in Japanese internment camps during WWII. 

The Straight Story (1993) (G) 73-year-old man takes a six week trip to mend his relationship with his older brother, who is ill. 

Stranger in the Kingdom (1998) (R) A Vermont town in the 1950’s hires a new minister based on his war record and capable presentation, but then are shocked when he shows up and is a black man. 

Stuart Little(1999) (PG) The adventures of a heroic and debonair stalwart mouse named Stuart Little with human qualities, who faces some comic misadventures while searching for his lost bird friend and living with a human family as their child. 

Such a Long Journey (1998) (NR) The story revolves around a Parsi family in Bombay around the time of the India-Pakistan war that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Sudie and Simpson (1990) (NR) A white girl befriends a reclusive black man in 1940s Georgia. 

Tea With Mussolini (1999) A story of civilized disobedience; a group of expatriate women in WWII Italy think they are under the protection of Il Duce. 

Testament (1983) Story of one family’s attempt to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war. 

Trumbo (2015) In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Twentyfour Seven (1997) An idealistic 1980s burnout tries to encourage the aimless, angry young men in his working-class English town by setting up a boxing club.

Ulee's Gold to World Apart

 Twentyfour Seven (1997) An idealistic 1980s burnout tries to encourage the aimless, angry young men in his working-class English town by setting up a boxing club. 

Ulee’s Gold (1997) (R) A reclusive beekeeper slowly pulls his dysfunctional family back together. 

Wag the Dog (1997) Before elections, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover-up a presidential sex scandal. 

The War (1994) (PG-13) A Vietnam veteran in 1970s Mississippi attempts to teach his kids tolerance and peaceful ways when they’re being bullied. 

The War at Home (1996) (R) TV movie about a middle-class family’s helplessness in the wake of a son’s agony on his return from Vietnam.

 The Way Home (2003) Bratty seven-year-old Sang-woo is transformed through his grandmother’s boundless patience, love and devotion, he learns to embrace empathy, humility and family.

The Whales of August (1987) (NR) Two elderly sisters (Bette Davis and Lillian Gish) have to decide whether to give up their family home in Maine, their independence and life together. 

What the Deaf Man Heard (1997) A traumatized boy refuses to speak and is thought to be deaf until 26 years later he speaks out against embezzlement of church funds. 

White Man’s Burden (1995) (R) Imagines an America where black people are the ruling class and whites are underprivileged minorities. 

The White Rose (1982) Student resistance in Nazi Germany. 

Whitewash (1995) Animated film explores intolerance. 

The Winslow Boy (1948) In pre-WW1 England, a youngster is expelled from a naval academy over a petty theft, but his parents raise a political furor by demanding a trial. 

Wit (2001) Eloquent and deeply moving struggle for dignity, meaning, and peace at life’s ultimate crossroads. during the painful death of a college English professor. 

Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God . . be Back by Five (1998) Two 30-something friends go to Coney Island to look for a childhood buddy who is reported to be mentally ill and living under the boardwalk.

Winstanley (1974) About Gerrard Winstanley and the counter-culture Diggers in the mid 1600s. 

Witness (1985) A young Amish boy is sole witness to a murder; policeman goes into hiding in Amish country to protect him until the trial. 

The Wizard of Oz (1939) Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home. 

World Apart (1989) (PG) This true story reveals the world of apartheid South Africa through the eyes of the daughter of prominent anti-apartheid activists.

Anti-war Films

My subject is War, and the pity of War.
Wilfred Owen, WWI poet

Here’s an exercise we have used: Ask everyone to watch (on their own or, if possible,  in small groups) two films: one that glorifies or justifies war (such as: The Green Berets, The Alamo, Henry V, Patton, Braveheart, Rambo, Troy, Gladiator) and one anti-war film. Propose this several weeks prior to ensure everyone has time to find, watch and reflect upon their films. Allot some time for discussion: Are all war films anti-war to some extent? What do most people learn about war though film? Is that important?

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930; 1979) A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I.

The Americanization of Emily (1964) An American naval officer’s talent for living the good life in wartime is challenged when he falls in love and is sent on a dangerous mission.

Apocalypse Now (1979) During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

Die Brücke (1959; 2008) Classic German war film: 16-year-old Walter and his friends are recruited to help defend a bridge near their town. What begins as a minor op becomes a life or death battle in which the idealistic young men confronted by the brutal reality of war.

The Burmese Harp (1956) A Japanese soldier in WWII, a self-taught lute player, is shocked by the horrors of war and vows to live a life of prayer.

Casualties of War (1989) During the Vietnam War, a soldier finds himself the outsider of his own squad when they unnecessarily kidnap a female villager.

Catch-22 (1970) A man is trying desperately to be certified insane during World War II, so he can stop flying missions.

Coming Home (1978) A woman whose husband is fighting in Vietnam falls in love with another man who suffered a paralyzing combat injury there.

The Deer Hunter (1978) An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam war impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Duck Soup (1930) Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale.

Friendly Persuasion (1956) The pacifist attitude of a Quaker family is tested as a result of the American Civil War.

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka) (1988) In this animé, two orphaned Japanese children in the aftermath of WWII are forced to try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen.

Hedd Wyn (1992) A young poet living in the North Wales countryside competes for the most coveted prize of all in Welsh Poetry – that of the chair of the National Eisteddfod, a tradition dating back a hundred years. Before the winner is announced Hedd Wyn gets sent to fight with the English in the trenches of the First World War

How I Won the War (1967) In this absurdist film, World War II British soldiers die one by one, only to be replaced by ghostly World War I-era soldiers; by the film’s end the only man still alive is the one who refused to fight.

The Bedsitting Room (1967) by the same director is about Britain after WWIII and is a good companion film.

Gallipoli (1981) Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Good Morning Vietnam (1987) An unorthodox and irreverent DJ begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the US Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam.

Grand Illusion (1937) During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.

In the Valley of Elah (2007) A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)  Jacob,  a Vietnam veteran whose experiences prior to and during the war result in strange, fragmentary flashbacks and bizarre hallucinations that continue to haunt him,  desperately attempts to figure out the truth.

Johnny Got His Gun (1972) A young American soldier, hit by a shell on the last day of WWI, lies in a hospital bed, a quadruple amputee who has lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose, tries to communicate his wish that he be put on show in a carnival as a demonstration of the horrors of war.

Joyeaux Noel (2004) On Christmas Eve during World War I French, German and British soldiers met in a “no-man’s-land” to exchange candy and cigarettes, converse, sing and even play soccer.

The Killing Fields (1984) A photographer is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s bloody “Year Zero” cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million “undesirable” civilians.

King of Hearts (1966) A Scottish soldier, sent to a small French town at the end of WWI to disarm a bomb, unknowingly leaves the door to the insane asylum open while being chased by the Germans. The film ends with the question of who is more insane: those in the asylum or the soldiers on the battlefield.

Ladybug, Ladybug (1963) Staff and students at a rural school react to a warning of an imminent nuclear attack, not knowing whether it is real or mistaken.

Lions for Lambs (2007) Three different simultaneous stories: a senator who launches a new Middle East military strategy and details it to a journalist, two soldiers involved in that operation, and their college professor trying to re-engage a promising student by telling him their story.

Lord of War (2005) An arms dealer begins to question the nature of his business and whether what he is doing for a living is moral.

M*A*S*H (1972) The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and hijinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.

A Midnight Clear (1992) Set in 1944 France, an American Intelligence Squad locates a German platoon wishing to surrender rather than die in Germany’s final war offensive.

The Mouse That Roared (1959) An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose, but things don’t go according to plan.

No Man’s Land (2001) Academy Award-winning satire of the war in the Balkans is a black comedy grounded in the brutality and horror of war. Stuck in an abandoned trench between enemy lines, a Serb and a Bosnian play the blame game while a wounded soldier lies helplessly on a land mine.

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) A movie about the First World War based on a stage musical of the same name, portraying the “Game of War” and focusing mainly on the members of one family (last name Smith) who go off to war.

Paths of Glory (1955) The title is taken from the Thomas Gray poem Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard: “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r, / And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, / Awaits alike th’inevitable hour. / The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” Based loosely on the true story of five French soldiers executed for mutiny during World War I.

Salvador (1986) A journalist, down on his luck in the US, drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assasination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Slaughterhouse Five (1972) A man tells his story of how he became unstuck in time during the bombing of Dresden and abducted by aliens.

Turtles Can Fly (2004) Near the Iraqi-Turkish border on the eve of an American invasion, refugee children like 13-year-old Kak (Ebrahim), gauge and await their fate.

Wag the Dog (1998) Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.

The War at Home (1996) Haunted by his experiences in the Vietnam War, a young man returns home and has trouble adjusting back to civilian life, his family and his stern father.

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