Resource Type: Films

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.

The Boys Who Said No

Film. Directed by Judith Ehrlich. 2020. A documentary uses interviews and found footage to tell the inspiring story and impact of the anti-Vietnam War draft resistance movement.
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The First Rainbow Coalition

Film. Directed and produced by Ray Santisteban. Nantes Media LLC. 2019. 56 minutes. In this documentary, Chicago's Black Panther Party forms alliances across lines of race and ethnicity with other community-based movements in the city to collectively confront issues such as police brutality and substandard housing.
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9to5: The Story of a Movement

Film. Directed and produced by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. Working Women Documentary Project LLC. 2021. While Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" song is well known, this documentary captures the real-life 9-to-5 organizing to address issues of working women in the early 1970s that led to a union.
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Crip Camp

Directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. Netflix. 2020. 107 minutes. A groundbreaking summer camp galvanizes a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality.
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How to Survive a Plague

Film. Directed by David France. Public Square Films. 2012. 109 minutes. This documentary is about the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the grassroots movement of activists, many of them in a life-or-death struggle, who seized upon scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease.
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At the River I Stand

Film. Directed by David Appleby, Allison Graham, and Steven Ross. 1993. 58 min. Documentary film on the African American sanitation workers' 1968 fight for human dignity and a living wage in Memphis.
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Glory

Film. Directed by Edward Zwick. 1989. 122 minutes. The all-Black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment is brought to the screen in this star-studded Civil War film.
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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.
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Triangle Fire (Film)

Film. Written by Mark Zwonitzer and Directed by Jamila Wignot. 2018. 52 minutes. After a tragic workplace accident, the private industry of the American factory would never be the same.
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Rabbit-Proof Fence

Film. Directed by Phillip Noyce. 2002. 79 minutes. In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a journey across the Outback.
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Trinkets and Beads

Film. Trinkets and Beads. By Christopher Walker. 1996. 52 minutes. This documentary reveals the funny, heartbreaking, and thrilling story of the battle waged by indigenous people to preserve their way of life in the Amazon, in the face of international capitalism and colonialism.
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Dirt and Deeds in Mississippi

Film. Produced and directed by David Shulman. Narrated by Danny Glover. 82 minutes. 2015 Documentary about the pivotal role played by Black landowning families during the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi who controlled over a million acres in the 1960s.
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Segregated By Design (Film)

Segregated by Design

Film. Directed by Mark Lopez. Written by Mark Lopez and Richard Rothstein. 2019. 18 minutes. An animated documentary of how the federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in the U.S. through law and policy.
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The Killing Floor

Film. Directed by Bill Duke. 1985. Digitally restored in 2020. 118 minutes. Set during World War I, two African-American men deal with racism in the workplace and the labor union.
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Banished

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.
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Now Can We Talk? 40 Years Later

Film. By Lee Anne Bell and Markie Hancock. 2013. This DVD and discussion guide offer a powerful way to engage students, teachers, and community groups in honest dialogue about the ongoing problems of racism and what we can do to address them.
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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War

Film. By Elizabeth Deane and Dion Graham. 2004. 174 min. Through the voices of several historians and dramatic re-enactments by actors, PBS’s Reconstruction: The Second Civil War uses the stories of ordinary citizens to paint a picture of the Reconstruction era.
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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.
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