When a documentary is over, the real life story and the issue it illustrates continue, and they can continue for years. Most documentary filmmakers encourage audiences to become involved in helping to resolve the issues illuminated in their films. If you find a film's subject compelling, follow up by joining the community that's trying to do something about it. You'll find information and resources on the film's Website. Here's a list of films that may move you to take action and make New Year's resolutions to help make a difference in 2011.
Jennifer Arnold's inspiring documentary follows Chris Mburu, a United Nations human rights advocate who grew up in an impoverished household in rural Kenya, and who, after graduating from Harvard, established the Hilde Back Education Fund to pay for high school for deserving Kenyan children, as a way of paying forward the kindness of a Swedish woman who sponsored his education.
Filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem was adopted from a South Korean orphanage by an American couple, but she discovers that her identity was switched during the adoption process. This film covers her extraordinary efforts to find out what happened to the little girl whose identity she assumed when she was adopted.
Famous for her study of chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dr. Jane Goodall brings her compelling message of environmental conservation and animal rights to audiences in this biodoc that presents her personal story from childhood in England to her first encounters with chimpanzees in Africa, and on to her formal studies at Cambridge, her two marriages, motherhood and her travels (300 days a year!) for personal appearances to educate and help the people of the world through her Roots and Shoots programs.
A documentary on the inspiring and not always easy life and career of Joan Rivers, made as the adored comedienne turns 75 years old.
There are 130-million migrant workers in China, all of whom try to get home to reunite with their families for the New Year holiday. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan follows one family as they make the arduous and frustrating journey from the crowded city where they work to their rural farmland home. Their persistence and dedication are awesome!
Subtitled 'Stories of Doctors Without Borders,' 'Living in Emergency' follows the lives and work of dedicated physicians, nurses and support staff who work with Medicines Sans Frontieres, the international NGO that provides health care in third world countries where medical attention is otherwise unavailable.
Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor follow sheep herders as they drive 3,000 sheep through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana during the summer of 2003. This was the final sheep drive along that trail, ending a tradition that had been followed annually since the early 1900s. Contemplate the value of tradition!
The Weinstein Company
Pat Tillman turned in his multimillion dollar pro football contract, became an Army Ranger and set off to war in Afghanistan, where he was killed by friendly fire. Amir Bar Lev documents Tillman's life and shows his family's heroic battle to get to the truth about his untimely death.
A penetrating investigatiion of the relationship between combat and post-traumatic stress disorder, and how the understanding of the condition has evolved from the time of the Civil War to the present. The film offers insights into the feelings and mindset of our young soldiers returning from deployment.
Filmmaker Lucy Walker follows New York-based Brazilian artist Vik Muniz back to Rio de Janiero, where he photographs garbage pickers at the Jardim Gramacho dump and eventually invites several of them to participate in an art exhibit based on images of them. The film is a vital and inspiring testimonial to the transformative effects art can have on peoples' lives