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.

Granito de Arena/Grain of Sand

Film. Produced by Jill Freidberg. Corrugated Films. 2005. 62 minutes.
Documentary about teachers, parents, and students fighting to defend Mexico's public education system from the impacts of economic globalization.
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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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Incident at Oglala

Film. By Michael Apted. Narrated by Robert Redford. 1992. 90 minutes.
Documentary about the conviction of Native American activist Leonard Peltier.
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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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La Operación (documentary)

Film. Directed by Ana María García. 1982. 40 minutes.
La Operación is a 1982 documentary that shows the widespread sterilization operation led by the U.S. during the 1950s and 60s in Puerto Rico.
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The Last Mountain

Film. Directed by Bill Haney. Produced by Clara Bingham and Eric Grunebaum. 2011. 95 minutes.
Documentary on the consequences of mining and burning coal, with a focus on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.
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Made in L.A.

Film. By Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar. 2007. 70 minutes.
Emmy award-winning feature documentary follows the story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles sweatshops on an odyssey to win basic labor protections from a clothing retailer.
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Maquilapolis (City of Factories)

Film. Directed and produced by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre. 2006. 68 minutes.
The impact of globalization as told through the lives of the women who experience it in Tijuana, Mexico.
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Matewan

Film. Written and directed by John Sayles. 1987. 132 minutes.
A feature film depicting a strike in a mining town in Appalachia and the struggle for solidarity across racial lines.
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Mighty Times: The Children’s March

Film. By Hudson and Houston. Learning for Justice. 2005. 40 minutes.
This Academy Award-winning documentary film tells the heroic story of the young people in Birmingham, Alabama, who brought segregation to its knees.
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Monumental Myths (Film) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Monumental Myths

Film. Directed by Tom Trinley. 2004. 47 minutes.
Inspired by the book, Lies Across America, this film presents the historic myths and facts about a few iconic monuments in the United States.
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The Murder of Emmett Till

Film. Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson. 2003. 60 minutes.
Documentary on the murder of teenager Emmett Till and the actions of Mamie Till Bradley which helped launch the modern Civil Rights Movement.
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Not Just a Game: Power, Politics & American Sports

Film. By Dave Zirin and Jeremy Earp. 2010. 62 minutes.
A documentary based on the bestselling book A People's History of Sports in the United States, Zirin demonstrates that American sports have long been at the center of some of the major political debates and struggles of our time. For 6th grade to adult.
Teaching Activity by Dave Zirin
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