STF Team’s Picks:
Table of Contents (organized alphabetically A – Z)
Synopsis: When atrocities are committed in countries held hostage by ruthless dictators, Human Rights Watch sends in the E-Team (Emergencies Team), a collection of fiercely intelligent individuals hired to document war crimes and report them to the rest of the world. Within this volatile climate, filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny take us to the frontline in Syria and Libya, where shrapnel, bullet holes, and unmarked graves provide mounting evidence of coordinated attacks conducted by Bashar al-Assad and the now-deceased Muammar Gaddafi. The crimes are rampant, random, and often undocumented, making E-Team’s effort to get information out of the country and into the hands of media outlets and criminal courts all the more necessary.
A film by Edward Zwick
Running Time: 143 minutes
Synopsis: Set against the back drop of civil war, the film traces the incredible journey of three people as they battle through harsh war torn West African landscape in search of a priceless pink diamond.
A documentary by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski
Running Time: 85 minutes
Synopsis: Born into Brothels is an Academy Award winning documentary film about youth empowerment and the transformative power of art and education. Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city’s notorious red light district.
A film by Phillip Noyce
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Synopsis: Powerfully telling the story of a South African hero’s journey to freedom, Catch a Fire is the new film from director Phillip Noyce (The Quiet American, Rabbit-Proof Fence). The political thriller takes place during the country’s turbulent and divided times in the early 1980s, and in the new South Africa of today. Derek Luke portrays real-life hero Patrick Chamusso.
A documentary by Ted Braun
Running Time: 98 minutes
Synopsis: An examination of the genocide in Sudan’s western region of Darfur that has left approximately a half a million civilians dead and 2.5 million civilians displaced.
A documentary by Davis Guggenheim
Running Time: 87 minutes
Synopsis: When 11-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai began detailing her experiences in the Swat Valley of Pakistan for the BBC, she had no idea what momentous changes were coming in her life. Her father, Ziauddin, a school founder and dedicated teacher, was outspoken in his belief that girls, including his beloved daughter, had a right to an education. As they continued to speak out against restrictions imposed by extremists, Ziauddin received constant death threats, so many that he began to sleep in different places. But it was Malala who was almost killed, shot in the head by a gunman on her way home from school. Her survival and recovery have been little short of miraculous. Instead of being cowed by this horrific attack, Malala began to use the international attention she attracted to advocate for the cause of girls’ education worldwide. Through her speeches, her autobiography I Am Malala, the work of her fund, and her travels to places where girls’ education is in crisis, she has continued to focus on the effort to give all girls safe schools, qualified teachers, and the materials they need to learn.
A documentary by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix
Running Time: 40 minutes
Synopsis: Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short Film, Inocente, is the story of a talented 15-year-old Latina who, as an undocumented homeless immigrant, fiercely pursues her dream of becoming an artist. Inocente survived life’s greatest challenges, punctuated by a father deported for domestic abuse and an endless shuffle, year after year, through the city’s overcrowded homeless shelters and the constant threat of deportation. By chronicling the journey of this immensely talented young woman, the documentary sheds light on the current lightning rod issues of immigration and homelessness in America in a strikingly personal way.
A film by Marc Forster based on the book by Khaled Hosseini
Running Time: 128 minutes
Synopsis: Growing up in Kabul, Amir and Hassan are inseparable friends. As an adult living in California, Amir remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed Hassan’s trust. When he learns that the Taliban has murdered Hassan and wife, Amir returns to his homeland to learn the fate of the couple’s son.
A documentary by Michael Pertnoy and Michael Kleiman
Running Time: 88 minutes
Synopsis: The Last Survivor is an award winning, feature-length documentary film that presents the stories of four Survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate a new generation, inspire tolerance and spark a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. Following the lives of survivors of four different genocides and mass atrocities – The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo – The Last Survivor presents a unique opportunity to learn from the lessons and mistakes of our past in order to have a lasting social impact on how we act collectively in the face of similar issues which still exist today.
An animated film based on the story by Kahlil Gibran.
Running Time: 85 minutes
Synopsis: On the imaginary island of Orphalese, the poet and artist Mustafa continues his writing and painting, despite being under house arrest for many years. He is looked after by Kamila, a beautiful housekeeper, and Hakim, his friendly guard. Kamila’s troubled, silent young daughter, Almitra, forms an unlikely friendship with Mustafa. When he is released from house arrest and ordered to leave the country, she trails along. On the way, Mustafa passes by a village wedding, an outdoor café, and a marketplace. At each place, the poet is asked to share his wisdom with the townspeople. Immensely popular and revered by the townspeople, he is increasingly perceived as a threat by the authoritarian government of Orphalese.
A documentary by Gini Reticker
Running Time: 90 minutes
Synopsis: When a young Egyptian woman travels from her village to Cairo to add her voice to the tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to 60 years of military rule, she is arrested, beaten, and tortured by security forces and later punished and imprisoned by her family for daring to speak out. Unbreakable, she sets out in a search for freedom and social justice in a country in the grips of a power struggle, where there is little tolerance for the likes of her. Buoyed by the other activists she meets along the way, Hend Nafea’s story mirrors the trajectory of the Arab Spring—from the ecstasy of newfound courage to the agony of shattered dreams. In the end, despite crushing setbacks, it is resilience that sustains the hope for reform even in the darkest hours of repression.
A documentary by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix
Running Time: 105 minutes
Synopsis: Three children living in a displacement camp in northern Uganda compete in their country’s national music and dance festival. This powerful and uplifting film addresses many human rights issues endemic to conflict, from internally displaced persons to child soldiers while highlighting the role that music and dance plays in these children’s lives.