These compelling documentaries are evidence of the human capacity for cruelty towards others and, in some cases, the amazing spirit and innate sense of righteousness that allows them to overcome. All stand as powerful testimony that genocide, ethnic cleansing and profiling must be terminated before we exterminate ourselves.
1. Blessed Is The Match - The Life Of Hannah Senesh - 2008
Blessed Is The Match - The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh is the heartbreaking World War II story of a young Jewish women, Hannah Senesh, who'd emigrated from Hungary to Palestine, but later joined the British Army, parachuted into Yugoslavia and tried to sneak into her native country in a valiant attempt to save the Jewish community--including her mother--from death at the hands of Hungarian Nazis.
With riveting archival footage of secret meetings, darkly humorous and incendiary interviews and self-promotional collateral, Blood in the Face reveals the ideology and actions of White supremacist groups who are strategizing, preparing to change the American way of life.
In Darfur Now, documentary filmmaker Ted Braun focuses on the genocide taking place in the westernmost region of Sudan. It’s a situation that desperately needs exposure, and actor-activists Don Cheadle and George Clooney use their celebrity to garner attention for it.
Brian Steidle was quite surprised to find himself an advocate for social and political change--when his personal point of view about the world of international politics was transformed by his serving as an observer for the African Union in the Sudan. For six months, he watched the Sudanese Arab-controlled government actively engage in an ongoing systematic genocide against black citizens living in the country’s Darfur region. He decided he had to do something to save hundreds of thousands of innocent people from slaughter.
Disarm. is an in depth study and status report about a crucial worldwide humanitarian effort, one which can, with the commitment of all governments, be realized. It involves the total ban of the manufacture, trade, stockpiling and deployment of all landmines, and the removal and destruction of all landmines that are still buried in fields and forests around the globe. These weapons of mass destruction cripple entire populations one man, woman or child at a time.
6. FLOW - For Love Of Water - 2008
Nobody can live without fresh water, and the deprivation of it is tantamount to genocide. Irena Salinas' documentary is about the global crisis we face as Earth's fresh water supply is constantly diminished by pollution, wastefulness, privatization and corporate greed by the likes of Vivendi, Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi and other water-controlling conglomerates. If we continue to abuse our water supply, Earth will become uninhabitable and humankind will become extinct. That would be the biggest genocide of all.
Bashings of homosexuals might not yet have reached the numeric proportions of genocide, but these targeted hate crimes must be stopped. By answering the question 'are Scripture and homosexuality mutually exclusive?,' with a resounding 'no' from theologians and academics, Daniel Karslake's documentary removes any 'justification' bashers might use to back up their heinous behavior.
Academy Award-nominated Jesus Camp is an extraordinary exposé about the well-organized Evangelical indoctrination of children in heartland America to become soldiers for Christ, willing to sacrefice their lives in Jesus' name. The film serves as a cautionary tale about fundamentalist Christian recruitment and conditioning of preteens to prepare them to battle al-Qaeda, whose kids fast, bare arms and sacrifice themselves for Islam. Do we see the potential for genocide here, from either or both sides of the religious zealotry?
9. My Neighbor My Killer - 2009
The 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus left Rwanda physically and psychically bereft and unable to function. The Gacaca Law mandated Tutsis and Hutus to reconcile--to forgive and move on with the rebuilding of the nation. Anne Aghion spent more than nine years chronicling the peace process to produce this brilliant documentary that brings us to a new level of understanding about the human capacity for creating mutuality.
10. Nanking - 2007
Nanking elucidates a very dark moment in human history: the massacre of 200,000 people and rape of 20,000 women by Japanese soldiers who occupied that city during the Second World War.
Errol Morris' documentary about the U.S. military's torture of suspected terrorists at Abu Ghraib doesn't directly address the issue of genocide, but it does suggest there's a dangerous predisposition set by the ethnic sterotyping that allows people put in in charge of others to torture, mistreat or kill their captives--in this case muslims--based on assumptions about race and culture. Morris' interviews with American soldiers who tortured prisoners reveal that they didn't perceive of their captives as equal human beings and were, therefore, free to behave as shown in photographs presented as evidence in the film. Could their mind set be a prelude to genocide?
Award-winning filmmaker Michele Ohayon's documentary is a touching tale of true love between Jack and Ina Polak, who celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2006. In the film, they talk about how they met in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, fell in love, survived the concentration camps and eventually married. Their sustaining strength, indomitable spirit, and dedication to each other is absolutely inspiring.