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Documentary / Educational

Blood Diamonds. Bill Brummel Productions, Inc., for The History Channel, 2006. 50 minutes.

Description from The History Channel: "This moving documentary explores an unimaginable world where a rock is valued above a human life - the real story behind the Oscar® - nominated film Blood Diamond. ... With forceful thoroughness and unblinking candor, Blood Diamonds relates the tragic facts of the conflict diamond trade and provides hope that, once awakened to the horror, the world will act on behalf of its victims.: Available from the Montgomery College Library


The Ground Truth. Patricia Foulkrod, director. Universal Studios.

Description from "The filmmaker's subjects are patriotic young Americans - ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military service in Iraq - as they experience recruitment and training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities. The terrible conflict in Iraq is a prelude for the even more challenging battles fought by the soldiers returning home - with personal demons, an uncomprehending public, and an indifferent government. As these battles take shape, each soldier becomes a new kind of hero, bearing witness and giving support to other veterans, and learning to fearlessly wield the most powerful weapon of all - the truth." Available at

Guns, Germs and Steel. Lion TV for National Geographic Television & Film, 2006. Three episodes, 165 minutes.

Description from PBSnew window: "Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality. ... Guns, Germs, and Steel is a thrilling ride through the elemental forces which have shaped our world – and which continue to shape our future."

Based on the book by Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel : the Fates of Human Societies . Book and DVD available at the Montgomery College Library

The Linguists. Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, directors. Ironbound Films, 65 minutes

Description from PBSnew window: The Linguists is a hilarious and poignant chronicle of two scientists—David Harrison and Gregory Anderson—racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. In Siberia, India, and Bolivia, the linguists confront head-on the very forces silencing languages: racism, humiliation, and violent economic unrest. David and Greg's journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge, and communities at risk when a language dies. Available from Ironbound Filmnew window

A Walk to Beautiful. Mary Olive Smith and Amy Bucher, Directors. Engel Entertainment, 2008. 56 minutes. Closed captioned.

Description from "The award winning feature-length documentary A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life.

A Walk to Beautiful Take Action Guide (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) from Engel Entertainment at The Fistula Foundation
Trailer, teacher's guides (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.) , and video available at NOVA PBS (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.-Link opens in new window.)

Commercial / Popular

Amistad. Steven Spielberg, director. DreamWorks Pictures, 1998. 155 minutes.

Based on the true story of the failed mutiny on board the slave ship Amistad in 1839, and the courtroom battle that followed. In the trial that would challenge the very foundation of the American legal system, abolitionist Theodore Joadson, trial lawyer Roger Baldwin and ex-president John Quincy Adams argue for the freedom and civil rights of the captive African slaves. Available in the Montgomery College Libraries.

Blood Diamond. Edward Zwick, Director. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2006. 143 minutes.

Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer - an ex mercenary from Zimbabwe - and Solomon Vandy - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen, an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have. Available at the Montgomery County Public Librarynew window.

Breach. Billy Ray, director. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2007. 111 minutes.

Description from IMDbnew window: "In February, 2001, Robert Hanssen, a senior agent with 25 years in the FBI, is arrested for spying. Jump back two months: Eric O'Neill, a computer specialist who wants to be made an agent is assigned to clerk for Hanssen and to write down everything Hanssen does. O'Neill's told it's an investigation of Hanssen's sexual habits. Within weeks, the crusty Hanssen, a devout Catholic, has warmed to O'Neill, who grows to respect Hanssen. O'Neill's wife resents Hanssen's intrusiveness; the personal and professional stakes get higher. How they catch Hanssen and why he spies become the film's story. Can O'Neill help catch red-handed "the worst spy in history" and hold onto his personal life?" Available at the Montgomery County Public Library.

Freedom Writers. Richard LaGravenese, director. Paramount, 2007. 123 minutes.

This film is based on the true story of a new English teacher at an urban California public school who faces a racially mixed classroom of troubled students.  She manages to understand the students and help them understand themselves, largely through their writing.  The film does not portray any struggles with grammar or word use, but does show conflicts inside and outside the classroom and competitive politics among the faculty.  The students in the classroom bond with the teacher, form a sense of community, meet and receive teaching from a Holocaust survivor.  The title of the film comes from the Freedom Riders, students from the North in the U.S. who traveled to the South in the 1960's to discover and try to bridge racial differences and advance civil rights in the face of sometimes violent Southern opposition. -- Caleb Kriesberg. Available at the Germantown Campus Library

Gandhi. Richard Attenborough, director. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. 190 minutes.

Description from Turner Classic Movies: Winner of nine Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Actor and Director), this epic masterpiece stars Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi, spiritual leader of the people of India. Teaching tolerance and non-violence in a frenzied time, he spearheaded his people's revolt against British rule--changing the world in the process. Available in the Montgomery College Library.

Glory. Edward Zwick, director. TriStar, c2000. 122 minutes

Description from window: Shaw was an officer in the Federal Army during the American Civil War who volunteered to lead the first company of black soldiers. Shaw was forced to deal with the prejudices of both the enemy (who had orders to kill commanding officers of blacks), and of his own fellow officers. Based on the letters of Colonel Robert G. Shaw. Available at the Montgomery College Library.

Hotel Rwanda. Terry George, Director. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Home Entertainment, c2005. 122 minutes

Description from window: "Ten years ago some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda -- and in an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees, by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages." Available in the Montgomery College Library

In the Name of the Father. Jim Sheridan, director. Universal Studios Home Video, c1998. 133 minutes.

Fact-based film about Gerry Conlon, the young Irish punk who is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and forced to confess to a terrorist bombing. He and his father, along with friends of Gerry, are found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. There, his father shows his true strength, and Gerry works to prove their innocence and clear his father's name. Based on the book Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon. DVD Available at the Montgomery County Public Library.

Innocent Voices. Luis Mandoki, Director. Lightyear Video, 2008. 110 minutes.

Description from window: "A young boy, in an effort to have a normal childhood in 1980's El Salvador, is caught up in a dramatic fight for his life as he desperately tries to avoid the war which is raging all around him." Available at the Montgomery County Public Library

The Killing Fields. Roland Joffé, director. Warner Home Video, 2001. 141 minutes.

Sydney Schanberg is a New York Times journalist covering the civil war in Cambodia. Together with local representative Dith Pran, they cover some of the tragedy and madness of the war. When the American forces leave, Dith Pran sends his family with them, but stays behind himself to help Schanberg cover the event. As an American, Schanberg won't have any trouble leaving the country, but the situation is different for Pran; he's a local, and the Khmer Rouge are moving in. Available at the Montgomery College Library.

The Kite Runner. Marc Forster, Director. Dreamworks Home Entertainment, 2008. 128 min.

Based one on of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, THE KITE RUNNER is a profoundly emotional tale of friendship, family, devastating mistakes and redeeming love. In a divided country on the verge of war, two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, are about to be torn apart forever.  It’s a glorious afternoon in Kabul and the skies are bursting with the exhilarating joy of a kite-fighting tournament.  But in the aftermath of the day’s victory, one boy’s fearful act of betrayal will mark their lives forever and set in motion an epic quest for redemption. Now, after 20 years of living in America, Amir returns to a perilous Afghanistan under the Taliban’s iron-fisted rule to face the secrets that still haunt him and take one last daring chance to set things right. Based on the book by Khaled Hosseini.
Available in the Montgomery College Library

Kundun. Martin Scorsese, Director. Touchstone Home Video, 1998. 135 minutes.

In 1937, in a remote area of Tibet close to the Chinese border, a two year old child is identified as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the compassionate Buddha. Two years later, the child is brought to Lhasa where he is schooled as a monk and as head of state amidst the color and pageantry of Tibetan culture. The film follows him into adulthood: when he is 14, the Chinese invade Tibet and he is forced into a shaky coalition government; he travels to China to meet with a cynical Mao; and, finally, in 1959, ill and under siege, he flees to India. Throughout, he has visions of his people's slaughter under Chinese rule. Available in the Montgomery College Library

The Long Walk Home. Richard Pearce, director. Live Home Video, 1990. 98 minutes.

Dramatizes the events in 1955-1956 in Montgomery, Alabama, when blacks boycotted public transport because they were forced to sit at the back. Odessa works as a maid for the Thompsons, and as well as she is treated, she feels it is her duty to walk to work, even if it means she is exhausted, and gets to work late. Available in the Montgomery College Library.

Matewan. John Sayles, Director. Evergreen Entertainment, 1996. 142 minutes.

Mingo County, West Virginia, 1920. Coal miners, struggling to form a union, are up against company operators and gun thugs; Black and Italian miners, brought in by the company to break the strike, are caught between the two forces. Union activist and ex-Wobbly Joe Kenehan, sent to help organize the union, determines to bring the local, Black, and Italian groups together. Drawn from an actual incident; the characters of Sid Hatfield, Cabell Testerman, C. E. Lively, and Few Clothes Johnson were based on real people. Available in the Montgomery College Library.

Men With Guns. John Sayles, director. Anarchist's Convention Films, 1998. 127 minutes.

Description from Internet Movie Database: High in the mountains of an unnamed Latin American country, an Indian woman tells her daughter the story of a doctor. We meet him and follow his quest for his legacy. He nears retirement, idealistic, believing his finest accomplishment to be the training of seven young physicians who work with Indians in remote pueblos. He decides to visit them to confirm their good work but finds a world of guerrillas and soldiers very different from the one he imagined for his students. Soon accompanied on his quest by an orphan boy and a deserter, he finds that men with guns have reached his students first. Slowly he moves closer to the Indian woman, her daughter, and his real legacy.

The Mission. Roland Joffé, director. Warner Home Video, 2003. 126 minutes.

Father Gabriel ascends the mountains of Brazil to bring Christianity to the natives. He is successful and brings about a golden age among them. Mendoza, a slaver, kills his brother in a fit of rage, and only Fr. Gabriel's guidance prevents his suicide. Gabriel brings Mendoza to work at his mission with the natives, and Mendoza finds peace and asks to become a priest. The church, under pressure, cedes the land to the Portuguese which will allow slavers in again. Mendoza breaks his vows and organizes the natives to resist while Gabriel warns him to help them as a priest.

John Steinbeck's The Pearl. Emilio Fernandez, director; screen play by John Steinbeck, Emilio Fernandez, and Jack Wagner. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., 1947. 105 minutes.

Filmed in Mexico, this is the story of a Mexican pearl diver who retrieves a pearl of great value only to find his hopes for security and an education for his son destroyed by the greed of others. Based on the book by John Steinbeck. Book and videocassette available at the Montgomery College Library.

John Steinbeck's The Pearl. Alfred Zacharias, Director. Sterling Entertainment Group 2005. 100 minutes.

"Based on John Steinbeck's classic novel, The Pearl is the story of an impoverished diver whose life is changed forever when he discovers "the pearl of the world." Confident that the gem will bring him wealth and respect, Kino seeks a better existence for himself and his community. However, despite his best intentions; the peasant is soon engulfed by greed, envy and betrayal as many suitors strive to get their hands on the glistening jewel. Amidst the battle to secure a bright future for his family, Kino comes to the cold realization that in order to achieve his dreams, he may have to make life's ultimate sacrifice." [Description from container]. Available at the Montgomery College Library

Philadelphia. Jonathan Demme, Director. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004. 125 minutes.

Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer infected with AIDS, is fired from his conservative law firm in fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for peace, he sues his former law firm with the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller. During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case before AIDS overcomes him. Available at the Montgomery County Public Librarynew window.

Sergeant York. Howard Hawks, director. Warner Home Video remaster of 1941 film. 134 minutes.

A hillbilly sharpshooter becomes one of the most celebrated American heroes of WWI when he single-handedly attacks and captures a German position using the same strategy as in turkey shoot. Available at the Montgomery County Public Librarynew window.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Robert Mulligan, director; screenplay by Horton Foote. Remastered 1962 film. Universal, 2006. 130 minutes.

Through the eyes of "Scout," a feisty six-year-old tomboy, To Kill A Mockingbird carries us on an odyssey through the fires of prejudice and injustice in 1932 Alabama. Presenting her tale first as a sweetly lulling reminiscence of events from her childhood, the narrator draws us near with stories of daring neighborhood exploits by she, her brother "Jem," and their friend "Dill." Peopled with a cast of eccentrics, Maycomb ("a tired and sleepy town") finds itself the venue of the trial of Tom Robinson, a young black man falsely accused of raping an ignorant white woman. Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem's widowed father and a deeply principled man, is appointed to defend Tom for whom a guilty verdict from an all-white jury is a foregone conclusion. Juxtaposed against the story of the trial is the children's hit and run relationship with Boo Radley, a shut-in who the children and Dill's Aunt Rachel suspect of insanity and who no one has seen in recent history. Cigar-box treasures, found in the knot hole of a tree near the ramshackle Radley house, temper the children's judgment of Boo. "You never know someone," Atticus tells Scout, "until you step inside their skin and walk around a little." But fear keeps them at a distance until one night, in streetlight and shadows, the children confront an evil born of ignorance and blind hatred and must somehow find their way home.
Based on the book by Harper Lee. Book and film available at the Montgomery College Library.

12 Angry Men. Sydney Lumet, Director. MGM/UA Home Video, 92 minutes.

12 Angry Men focuses on a jury's deliberations in a capital murder case. A 12-man jury is sent to begin deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of an 18-year-old Latino accused in the stabbing death of his father, where a guilty verdict means an automatic death sentence. The case appears to be open-and-shut: The defendant has a weak alibi; a knife he claimed to have lost is found at the murder scene; and several witnesses either heard screaming, saw the killing or the boy fleeing the scene. Eleven of the jurors immediately vote guilty; only Juror No. 8 (Mr. Davis) casts a not guilty vote. At first Mr. Davis' bases his vote more so for the sake of discussion after all, the jurors must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. As the deliberations unfold, the story quickly becomes a study of the jurors' complex personalities (which range from wise, bright and empathetic to arrogant, prejudiced and merciless), preconceptions, backgrounds and interactions. That provides the backdrop to Mr. Davis' attempts in convincing the other jurors that a "not guilty" verdict might be appropriate. Available at the Montgomery College Library.