Below is a collection of our recommended films for middle and high school. We offer additional lists and articles about films. See the links here:

Films with a Conscience is an annotated list of films that we recommend for middle and high school. It includes many of the titles listed further below.

Teaching People's History with Film offers some strategies for viewing films with students in the classroom that invite insight and critical reflection.

Film Clips is our collection of short clips, many of which are from the Voices of a People’s History “People Speak” productions.

10,000 Black Men Named George

Film. By Robert Townsend. 2002. 89 minutes. Docudrama about A. Philip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black labor union in the United States.
Themes: African American, Labor, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation

Film. By Na Maka o ka `Aina. 1993. 58 min. A comprehensive documentary that focuses on the events surrounding the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Pacific Islander, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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Alcatraz Is Not an Island

Film. By James M. Fortier. 2001. 60 min. Documentary on a small group of Native American students and “Urban Indians” who occupied Alcatraz Island in November 1969, and how it forever changed the way Native Americans viewed themselves, their culture and their sovereign rights.
Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Native American
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Anne Braden: Southern Patriot

Film. Produced by Anne Lewis. 75 min. 2012. Documentary about Southern activist Anne Braden.
Time Periods: 20th Century
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Labor, Social Class, Women's History
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Film. Center for Investigative Reporting and Two Tone Productions. 2007. 84 minutes. Filmmaker Marco Williams examined four examples of primarily white communities violently rising up to force their African-American neighbors to flee town.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American
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Battle of Algiers

Film. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. 1966. 123 minutes. This film documents the armed insurgency against the French colonial powers in Algiers, showing the brutality and desperation of war.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords

Film. Directed and produced by Stanley Nelson. 1999. 83 min. This documentary chronicles 150 years of Black journalists, printers, and Black-owned newspapers in the United States.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, 20th Century
Themes: African American, Education
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Film. By Clark Johnson. 2001. 120 min. Dramatic account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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Bread and Roses

Film. By Ken Loach. 2001. 106 min. A compelling, fictionalized account of an actual labor campaign in Los Angeles.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Latinx, Organizing
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Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin

Film. Produced by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer. 2002. 83 min. Documentary about the life of peace, labor, and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Labor, LGBTQ, Organizing
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Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History

Film. Southern Poverty Law Center. 2010. 40 minutes. This documentary shows the devastating impact of bullying on students, in this case a gay student who works with lawyers to win a precedent setting case to create a safe place for students in school.
Themes: Laws & Citizen Rights, LGBTQ
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Bus Riders Union

Film. Haskell Wexler. 2000. 86 minutes. The Los Angeles Bus Riders Union's triumphant struggle to win better service.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Organizing
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This Changes Everything (Film)

Film. By Avi Lewis. 2015. 90 min. Seven portraits of communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Economics
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Chisholm ’72 – Unbought and Unbossed

Film. By Shola Lynch. 2004. 76 min. Documentary about Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and her campaign to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 1972.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Women's History
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Chávez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story

Film. By Jordan Mechner. 2004. 26 minutes. A documentary about the politics and economics of land in the United States, based on the story of a Mexican American village razed in the 1950s to build Dodger Stadium.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: Housing, Economics, Latinx, Social Class, Sports
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On Coal River

Film. Directed by Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood. 2010. 81 minutes. This film takes viewers on a gripping emotional journey into a community surrounded by a looming toxic threat.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Democracy & Citizenship, Economics, Social Class
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Columbus in America

Film. By Paul Puglisi. 2017. 89 min. Documentary on the symbol of Columbus in the United States and the campaign for Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764
Themes: Native American, Organizing
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