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Social Sciences

Social Justice


Directed by Melody Shemtov

The story of activists who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including their lives, the tactics they used, and the historical context.

Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists -- as well as how they fit into the political process -- are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens.

The Activists: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets brings to life the stories of ordinary people who tried to stop and end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At best, activists had limited influence over the conduct of military policy after 9/11. Yet, their experiences in the antiwar movement helped them to learn about speaking out in the face of injustice. They inspired others to do the same during the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements. Indeed, democracy requires more than just one vote every four years. It requires continued pressure by citizens on their government. This is what democracy looks like!

Featuring leading activists and scholars including Tom Hayden, Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamin, and Michael Heaney.

DVD / 2017 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adults) / 60 minutes

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Directed by Matthew Eddy, Michael Dreiling

Almost 70 years ago Costa Rica abolished its army and committed itself to fostering a peaceful society. It has been reaping the benefits ever since.

In his famous "Cross of Iron" speech in 1953, President Eisenhower critiqued the military-industrial complex while asking, "Is there no other way the world may live?" In Costa Rica today, we glimpse another way to live.

In 1948, Costa Rica dismantled their military establishment and intentionally cultivated security relationships with other nations through treaties, international laws, and international organizations. Free of the burden of military spending, they used the financial savings to invest in their people, creating strong public institutions including public higher education and universal health care. In short, Costa Ricans created a society committed to peace, solidarity, and international law. They have survived with safety and relative prosperity for nearly 70 years without a standing army.

A BOLD PEACE details the events which shook the country to its foundations, culminating in the 1948 civil war and the decision to abolish the military. Over the decades, the Costa Rican model has survived several serious crises, but the current threats may be the most formidable of all.

DVD / 2017 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adults) / 89 minutes

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Directed by Regan Hines

Exposes America's prison problem and explores various criminal justice reforms.

Incarcerating US exposes America's prison problem and explores ways to unshackle the "land of the free" through vital criminal justice reforms. With 2.3 million people behind bars, the U.S. has the largest prison population in the history of the world.

Through dramatic first-hand accounts, expert testimony, and shocking statistics, Incarcerating US asks fundamental questions about the prison system in America: What is the purpose of prison? Why did our prison population explode in the 1970s? What can make our justice system more just?

The film begins with a brief overview of U.S. prisons and the flawed policies that fueled unprecedented overincarceration. In many cases, these laws exacerbate problems they were designed to solve. Through both empirical evidence and the eyes of those tragically affected by the system for committing minor crimes, we see the failures of two major initiatives: the War on Drugs and mandatory minimum sentences.

Incarcerating US tells the story of America's broken criminal justice system through the eyes of those who created it, those who have suffered through it, and those who are fighting to change it. After decades of failures, now is the time to unshackle the land of the free.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adults) / 84 minutes

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Directed by Michael Honey

An exploration of nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Rev. James Lawson.

LOVE & SOLIDARITY is an exploration of nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Rev. James Lawson. Lawson provided crucial strategic guidance while working with Martin Luther King, Jr., in southern freedom struggles and the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. Moving to Los Angeles in 1974, Lawson continued his nonviolence organizing in multi-racial community and worker coalitions that have helped to remake the LA labor movement.

Through interviews and historical documents, acclaimed labor and civil rights historian Michael Honey and award-winning filmmaker Errol Webber put Lawson's discourse on nonviolent direct action on the front burner of today's struggles against economic inequality, racism and violence, and for human rights, peace, and economic justice.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adults) / 38 minutes

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Directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega, Katie Galloway

After California's "Three Strikes" law was amended, thousands of lifers were suddenly freed, but re-entry presented problems for the lifers, their families and their communities.

In 2012, California amended its "Three Strikes" law--one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The passage of Prop. 36 marked the first time in U.S. history that citizens voted to shorten sentences of those currently incarcerated. Within days the reintegration of thousands of "lifers" was underway.

THE RETURN examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines--prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions, and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law. At a moment of reckoning on mass incarceration, what can California's experiment teach the nation?

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 9-12, Adults) / 84 minutes

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Directed by Jon Bowermaster

The oil and gas industry has historically dominated Louisiana politics and is largely responsible for the state's rapidly disappearing coastline.

Ten years ago Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast of Louisiana. Five years later the Deepwater Horizon exploded and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst ecologic disaster in North American history. Amazingly those aren't the worst things facing Louisiana's coastline today. It is that the state is fast disappearing through coastal erosion caused largely by oil and gas industry activity.

A follow-up to our 2010 film SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories, this film introduces us to some of the spill's most aggrieved victims as well as those who are desperately trying to save its coastline. Writer and historian John Barry who launched a suit against 97 oil and gas companies attempting to get them to pay their fair share for reparations caused by their explorations. Consultant and native son James Carville who manages to find some hope in new technologies that may save the coast. And Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, the man who saved New Orleans post-Katrina, whose new passion is for a Green Army he has recruited.

Fishermen, scientists, politicians, environmentalists, and oil-rig workers document how the coast of Louisiana has changed. What really happened to all that oil? What about the dispersant used to push it beneath the surface? How has the spill impacted local economies as well as human health and the health of both marine life and the Gulf itself? How much resilience is left in the people and coastline?

DVD / 2015 / (Grade Level: 7 -12, Colleges, Adults) / 62 minutes

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Directed by Laura Pacheco, Jackie Mow

Jose Anzaldo is an excellent student with a bright future except that he is undocumented, the child of migrant farm laborers in California's Salinas Valley.

EAST OF SALINAS begins with 3rd grader Jose Anzaldo telling us what he wants to be when he grows up. His parents work from sun up to sun down in the heart of California's "Steinbeck Country," the Salinas Valley. With little support available at home, Jose often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. In fourth grade his teacher told him if he worked hard he could have a different life. Oscar won a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. The day he earned his degree, he bought a car and drove home to the fields. He's been teaching ever since.

Jose is Oscar's most gifted student. But how do you teach students like Jose who have no place to do their homework? How do you teach a kid who moves every few months? This is what Oscar is up against every day. Oscar not only teaches his students reading, math and science, he gives them access to a world beyond their reach.

But Jose was born in Mexico--and he's on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out over three years, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance--for Jose and the many millions of undocumented kids like him.

EAST OF SALINAS asks, What is lost when kids like Jose are denied opportunities?

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adults) / 53 minutes

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Directed by Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega

After his only son is murdered in the Mexican drug war, a mystic poet launches an international crusade to save his country.

EL POETA tells the story of renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who ignited mass protests and an ongoing movement for peace after the brutal murder of his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco - collateral damage in a drug war that has left 60,000+ dead since 2006 - the majority civilians.

Drawing on the philosophical, artistic and spiritual dimensions of Sicilia and his movement, EL POETA reinterprets the "hard news" horror story of the Mexican drug war as a deeply personal, poetic and at times even hopeful one, tracing Sicilia's path from poet and father to movement leader and international symbol of grief and redemption.

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 55 minutes

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Directed by Sandy Jaffe

Harper Lee's novel, and the story of a remarkable high school production of the adapted play, are used as a lens to examine race, class, gender, and justice - then and now.

OUR MOCKINGBIRD is a documentary that uses Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird as a lens to view race, class, gender and justice, then and now. Woven through the film is the story of two extraordinarily different high schools in Birmingham, Alabama - one black, one white - who collaborate on a remarkable production of the adapted play, To Kill a Mockingbird.

In addition to this unique collaboration, we hear the voices of political leaders (Congressman John Lewis, former Attorney General Eric Holder), journalists (Katie Couric, Rick Bragg), actors (Mary Badham "Scout", Phillip Alford "Jem" in the 1962 movie), writers (Diane McWhorter, Rick Bragg), scholars (Charles Ogletree, Wayne Flynt, Cynthia E. Jones, Marshall Ganz), lawyers (Doug Jones, Reginald Lindsay, Richard Jaffe) and activists (Bryan Stephenson, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Morris Dees) mingle with those of students and teachers. Together these diverse voices reveal that as a country we have made progress but are still struggling with the issues of race, class and justice addressed in the novel.

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adults) / 65 minutes

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Directed by Andrew Morgan

Groundbreaking investigation of fast fashion reveals that while the price of clothing has been decreasing for decades the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically.

This is a story about clothing. It's about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. THE TRUE COST is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?

Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world's leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Vandana Shiva and Richard Wolff, THE TRUE COST is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 92 minutes

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Director: David Massey

Directed by Oscar-nominated and NAACP Image Award winner David Massey, this dynamic documentary features legal experts, local activists, and law enforcement officers delving into ongoing charges of inequality, unfair practices, and politicized manipulations of America's judicial system. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement and citizens nationwide question the staggering number of police shootings of unarmed Black men and women.

DVD / 2015 / 40 minutes

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The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman occurred on February 26, 2012 in the community of Sanford, Florida. The incident caused huge waves throughout the world and raised many questions about the approach that was taken by the city officials of Sanford while investigating the incident. This documentary focuses on the 44 days directly after the shooting and the mounting pressure from around the nation that finally led to the arrest and charging of Zimmerman. The issues of social justice and judicial and municipal efficiency that were raised during this period are examined through in-depth interviews with Sanford city council and law enforcement officials.

DVD / 2014 / (Senior High, College) / 45 minutes

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Directed by Owen Gower

The story of Britain's longest strike, the 1984-85 miners' strike, when Margaret Thatcher declared war on the unions, as told by those who lived through it.

THE ENEMY WITHIN provides unique insight into one of the most dramatic events in British history: the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. No experts. No politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of those who lived through Britain's longest strike. Follow the highs and lows of that life-changing year.

In 1984, a Conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared war on Britain's unions, taking on the strongest in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers. Following a secret plan, the government began announcing the closure of coal mines, threatening not just an industry but whole communities and a way of life.

Against all the forces the government could throw at them, 160,000 coal miners took up the fight. THE ENEMY WITHIN tells the story of a group of miners and supporters who were on the frontline of that strike for an entire year. These were people that Margaret Thatcher labelled "the enemy within".

Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archival footage, THE ENEMY WITHIN draws together personal experiences - whether they're tragic, funny or terrifying - to take the audience on an emotionally powerful journey through the dramatic events of that year.

DVD / 2014 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adult) / 112 minutes

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Directed by Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick

Shy sandwich-maker Mahoma Lopez unites his undocumented immigrant coworkers to fight abusive conditions at a popular New York restaurant chain.

At a popular bakery cafe, residents of New York's Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers who will fire them for calling in sick. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma Lopez has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.

Risking deportation and the loss of their livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of innovative young organizers and take the unusual step of forming their own independent union, launching themselves on a journey that will test the limits of their resolve. In one roller-coaster year, they must overcome a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers will battle in back rooms, Occupy Wall Street protesters will take over the restaurant, and a picket line will divide the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country. But whatever happens, Mahoma and his coworkers will never be exploited again.

DVD / 2014 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 84 minutes

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Directed by Andy Wells

The revealing story of what happens to the mountain of clothes--castoffs in today's world of fast fashion--that are donated to charity. Few make it to your local charity thrift store.

Each year, we give thousands of tons of our unwanted clothes to charity. But where do they actually go? It turns out most are exported to Africa. And even though we have given them away for free, our castoffs have created a multimillion-dollar industry and some of the world's poorest people pay good money to buy them.

In this revealing film, charismatic paralympian Ade Adepitan tells the fascinating story of the afterlife of our clothes. He follows the trail to Ghana, the biggest importer of our castoffs where thousands of tons of our old clothes arrive every week. Ade meets the people who make a living from our old clothes, from wholesalers and markets traders to the importers raking in more than the average yearly wage in a single day!

But not everyone is profiting. With cheaply made western clothes flooding the market, the local textile industry has been decimated. And the deluge of our clothes isn't just destroying jobs; it has an effect on Ghanaian culture. Western outfits are fast replacing traditional garb. Prepare to open your eyesˇKto the secret life of your clothes.

DVD / 2014 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adult) / 59 minutes

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Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

A vivid portrait of Detroit, America's first major post-industrial city, as it struggles to deal with the consequences of a broken economic system.

Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century...the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos.

With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.

DVD / 2012 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 86 minutes

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Directed by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega

The story of two young Texans accused of intending to firebomb the 2008 Republican National Convention reveals the workings of the post 9/11 security state.

How did two boyhood friends from Midland, Texas wind up arrested on terrorism charges at the 2008 Republican National Convention? BETTER THIS WORLD follows the journey of David McKay (22) and Bradley Crowder (23) from political neophytes to accused domestic terrorists with a particular focus on the relationship they develop with a radical activist mentor in the six months leading up to their arrests. A dramatic story of idealism, loyalty, crime and betrayal, BETTER THIS WORLD goes to the heart of the War on Terror and its impact on civil liberties and political dissent in post-9/11 America.

DVD / 2011 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 89 minutes

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Directed by Susan Saladoff

Tells the truth about the McDonald's hot coffee case and exposes the influence of corporate America on our civil justice system.

Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman put it on one of his Top Ten lists. More than 15 years later, the McDonald's coffee case continues to be cited as a prime example of how citizens use "frivolous" lawsuits to take unfair advantage of America's legal system.

But is that an accurate portrayal of the facts? First-time filmmaker and former public interest lawyer Susan Saladoff uses the infamous legal battle that began with a spilled cup of coffee to investigate what's behind America's zeal for tort reform. By following four people whose lives were devastated by the attacks on our courts, this thought-provoking documentary challenges the assumptions Americans hold about "jackpot justice."

DVD / 2011 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 86 minutes

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Directed by Marshall Curry

The Academy Award-nominated story of the radicalization of an environmental activist, from his involvement in and later disillusionment with Earth Liberation Front sabotage, to his eventual arrest by the FBI and incarceration as a domestic terrorist.

In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front-- a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat."

For years, the ELF--operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership--had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado.

With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT, directed by Marshall Curry (Street Fight), tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage -- much of it never before seen -- and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word "terrorism" had not yet been altered by 9/11.

DVD / 2011 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 85 minutes

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