Before writing a project, we look around and find issues that need solving. Examples of intolerance, discrimination, and marginalization, unfortunately, can be found in most places. However, it’s the inspirational stories and movies that motivate and encourage us to act for change. Let’s take a look at the top ten movies that keep us going at Active Youth Health.
“The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” This James Baldwin’s quote and the opener for Dear White People serves as an invitation to open our eyes to the world around us. There are many ways to get educated about the society we live in and the problems we face. We hope that this list of movies will serve as a tool to learn and get inspired together.
Est. reading time: 6 minutes
Ken Carter accepts the basketball coach’s job for his old high school in Richmond’s poor area. He decides to change the team’s players’ attitudes and performance. Through a strict regime that enforces respectful behavior, a dress code, and good grades, players build up their strength and confidence. We witness the team’s evolution through many challenges and resistance and how each player gets affected by coach Carter.
The movie shows the importance of guidance in life, especially for young people. A role-model can inspire and motivate through encouragement and rules, kindness, and compassion. A beautiful reminder of how once again, a single person, a single project can affect many more lives.
Based on the first transgender person’s true story to attempt a sex-change operation, the film portrays the emotional journey of landscape artist Einar Wegener’s transition into alluring model Lili Elbe.
The Danish Girl shows us how important it is for a person to have the possibility to express their true self and not hide it. The film also allows us to see that support and acceptance from both the closest people and society are essential aspects that let people be happy with who they are. It pushes us to work on projects that promote the inclusion of various groups, including LGTBQ, and foster dialogue for better understanding.
Adapted from an autobiographical novel, the movie tells a story about a wealthy aristocrat, Philippe, put in a wheelchair due to an accident. He is being taken care of by a young black man Driss, who is just released from prison and has no experience in the field. While coming from two different worlds, they gradually become friends and learn a lot from each other, erasing the line between a caregiver and a caretaker. During the movie, we also get to wonder what “disabilities” limit our own lives.
The extraordinary tale shows a couple of aspects that are relevant to our work. Firstly, we get a picture of the problems people from various socio-economic backgrounds face, including harsh racism. We get to imagine what it’s like to live someone else’s life and deal with their struggles. It helps us to get a fuller picture of what impact our projects can have. Finally, the movie shows that change can happen, one person, one connection at a time.
Cool Runnings is a movie based on real-life, stranger-than-fiction events. The story follows the first Jamaican bobsled team and their journey to Olympic glory. A unique path of underdogs who undermine the barriers and do not accept to be defined by their background. The movie balances between being light and funny while at the same time presenting serious problems of exclusions and racism.
It is a tale about real-life characters, maybe even heroes, who work hard to achieve what they dream of and do sports regardless of race or other barriers. Inclusion through sports and community are some of the most important guiding points for our team, and this movie is an excellent example of it.
6. The Class
This movie explores the harsh realities of bullying, resentment, and anger that lead to a school shooting in Tallinn, Estonia. Bullying, especially prevalent among adolescents and teenagers, is a heavy topic that most of us have experienced at some point in our lives. The emotions that stir off while watching the Class range between anger and sorrow and are sadly relatable.
Practice shows that victims of bullying often come from marginalized, disadvantaged social groups or ethnic/racial minorities. Why? Because of how different and often excluded they are from the majority. This film inspires us to write projects where people from different backgrounds would seek the same purpose and feel that they have a community, a support network.
5. Billy Elliot
An eleven-year-old Billy comes from an economically depressed mining town. One day he sneaks into a girls-only ballet class. Young Billy faces gender stereotypes and hears such cliches as “ballet is only for girls,” “it will make you gay.” It is clear that sometimes simply being yourself and doing what you love is not an easy task, as many stereotypes and judgments are standing in the way of that. And sometimes, the place that is supposed to be our haven – our family and our home – does not provide the needed safety and support.
However, a transformation is possible, and the joy of acceptance is waiting on the other side of it. We see the growth of the characters through the course of the movie and during our work at Active Youth.
We follow the British skier Michael “Eddie” Edwards, and his journey to becoming the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping since 1928. The story follows Eddie’s preparation for the Olympics while the entire nation disregards him. However, Eddie and his coach believe that everything is possible with enough time, effort and grit.
This feel-good drama inspires one to persevere, trust in oneself, and find at least one supportive “coach” for the journey. It shows that transformation is possible when we push ourselves and our limits.
3. The Specials
An inspiring story about two men, Bruno and Malik, who work as educators in their nonprofit organizations: they train young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for kids and adolescents with severe cases of autism. Based on a true story, the movie sheds light on the challenging lives of disadvantaged youth in Paris’s banlieues and the kids with autism abandoned by other institutions and people sacrificing their personal lives to help both groups.
The storyline continually balances between bringing the spectator to tears and laughter, eventually serving as an inspiration to take action. Movies like this one, helps us realize that sometimes one or two people can change the lives of many more.
A diverse gang of high-school students – each put under a particular label or stereotype – who end up spending a weekend in detention together. Through ups and downs, laughs, and cries, the students end up realizing that they have more in common than they thought. Their labels and images get stripped away, paving the way to more honest conversations and even confessions.
Watching their journey, we witness the pressure teenagers face when trying to fit in into the societal norms, find the correct “label,” or belong to a group. They also feel pressure from their parents and teachers. In our projects, we try to create a safe, playful space, a sort of “Breakfast Club” for people to come and leave their labels behind.
In the center of the show we see Winchester University students of color trying to challenge the social injustice and cultural biases. One of the main issues tackled in the show is the racial biases, the invisible and sometimes very visible racism.
Through irony and laughter, Dear White People shows the importance of activism that leads to the slow changes in our society, the work and time dedicated to fighting for equal rights and possibilities regardless of skin color. This is our aim with sports projects. To give equal opportunities to each and everyone, and show that we are not so different in the end.
Want even more movies? Check out our colleagues’ lists:
- AY Human – Movies & TV Series – movies about the social issues
- AY Click – Movies & TV Series – digital world and how it affects us
- AY Planet – Movies & TV Series – our planet and the environmental issues
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