7 movies that will inspire you to fight for human rights

7 movies that will inspire you to fight for human rights

7 movies that will inspire you to fight for human rights 900 600 Inga Vederytė

Active Youth Human recommends the best movies and TV series about human rights to learn more, gather inspiration and create change!

Est. reading time: 10 minutes


Inspiration is a massive part of our everyday lives. We search for it on every corner we turn, in every cup of coffee we drink and conversation we have. Inspiration helps us get out of bed in the mornings and actually get things done. But in the end, we all lack inspiration from time to time — even while working in ever-changing, ever-exciting NGOs.

Writing projects and thinking of quality, innovative activities that make a difference can be a tough challenge. Especially because sometimes we get so caught up in our own daily lives, we forget to look outside our bubble and see what the world is facing. And within the topic of equity and human rights, the world is facing a lot. So at Active Youth, we focus on looking beyond stereotypes and creating a world where it is safe to be yourself.

Today, together with the AY Human team, we want to share 7 movies that inspire us to learn more about the topics of gender equality, age discrimination, lives of migrants/refugees and asylum seekers, and ex(offenders). These movies can help to see the reality of ongoing social issues, motivate ourselves to think outside the box and generate ideas that create social change.


1. “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?” (2018), Johanna Demetrakas

IMDb rating 7.0/10

In 1977, a book of photographs was released. It celebrated women breaking free of traditional expectations and identifying their true nature as human beings – powerful, emotional, raw. “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?” revisits the photographs and aims to reveal the urgent need for ongoing social change in our present culture, showing evidence that social, political, personal and economic gender equity has not yet been achieved. Powerful women like Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Lily Tomlin, and Judy Chicago discuss women’s issues, including identity, abortion, parenting, and their personal lives – the good, the bad and the ugly.

(Link to trailer: here)


2. “Omar and Pete” (2005), Tod Lending

IMDb rating 7.8/10

“Omar and Pete” tells the story of two ex-offenders who are ready to change their lives after spending 30 years in and out of prison. After their release, both are enrolled in the Maryland Reentry Program, which provides transitional housing, health services, job support, and educational opportunities to long-term repeat offenders. Their story directly highlights the heartbreaking difficulties with reintegration and returning to civilian life and shows just how difficult a life of freedom can be for someone who spent most of their lives inside a prison.

(Link to trailer: here)


3. “Lost Girls” (2020), Liz Garbus

IMDb rating 6.1/10

The movie “Lost girls” takes us on a journey to the devastating world of crime and human rights violation with a story based on true events. Determined to find her missing daughter, Mari Gilbert starts a personal investigation that leads her to the Long Island community and reveals over a dozen cases of murdered sex workers. Mari fights so the world would see the tragedy for what it is and finally question its own stereotypes. The fact is that police response time for help is different for rich beach house owners and sex workers. This is one of a lot of examples, how we still treat people differently because of their social status, background, or gender when we all have the same right to safety.

(Link to trailer: here)


4. “People of Nowhere” (2015), Lior Sperandeo

“People of Nowhere” is a documentary by Lior Sperandeo, who spent 7 days on the Greek island of Lesvos to capture the Human Dimension of the Syrian refugee and human rights crisis. There are mixed opinions about the wave of Syrian refugees trying to make their way into the EU and about the need for social change. Still, Lior says: “Seeing the people behind the headlines with my own eyes, and feeling their deep struggle, broke my heart.  Are they the ‘threat’ people talk about? All I saw were courageous people in a time of crisis, looking for hope.”

(Link to trailer: here)



5. “I, Daniel Blake” (2016), Ken Loach and Laura Obiols

IMDb rating 7.5/10

Daniel, in the movie “I, Daniel Blake”, is a widowed woodworker who lives his life stubbornly independent. He never owned a computer and always lived by his own moral code. The story follows Daniel, recovering from a heart attack, unable to work and fighting the absolutely unfair bureaucratic system that denies Daniel benefits, despite his doctor’s diagnosis. While showing humour, heartfelt situations and moments full of despair, the movie also reveals the uncomfortable, unpleasant truth of ageism.

(Link to trailer: here)


6. “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” (2020), Lisa Bryant

IMDb rating 7.1/10

This TV mini-series is about privilege, money, power, and Jeffrey Epstein who had all of those things and more. Survivors from all around the world finally tell their stories of manipulation, abuse, human rights violations, a sex trafficking ring, emotional despair, all caused by the convicted sex offender Epstein. The story sheds light on the outrageously twisted American justice system and shows what power and money can do, even though someone is facing a life sentence for child sex abuse and trafficking.

(Link to trailer: here)


7. “On the basis of sex” (2018), Mimi Leder

IMDb rating 7.1/10

What a rollercoaster of emotions is the biographical drama “On the basis of sex”, revealing the extraordinary life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The young attorney takes on a groundbreaking tax law case that can overturn a century of gender discrimination. The exhilarating story showcases a fight for equal rights and Ruth’s historic career becoming the U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice.

(Link to trailer: here)


Some of these movies can be hard to watch and comprehend, and some are wildly inspiring, telling stories of people who changed the courses of our lives with their passion, hard work, dedication and belief in human rights for all. And they all inspire, even if it’s a man travelling alone to see the world of Syrian refugees, a young mother fighting for equity in an environment of patriarchy, or two ex-offenders trying to find a home. With their stories, we understand how important it is for us to see the reality for what it is. See it, acknowledge it, get ahead of it and start creating social change. For us these movies are a way to put ourselves into the shoes of others, to understand the struggles better as well as brainstorm on the ways we can help.

Want even more movies? Check out our colleagues’ lists:
Check out BeSmart online courses to gain new skills!


Inga Vederytė

Project manager at Active Youth.

All stories by : Inga Vederytė

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