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Social Justice Films and Documentaries

“We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories.
There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”
– Jimmy Neil Smith

The story of America has historically been one sided—one narrative defined by those with the power to define. These incredible filmmakers,  and documentarians have embraced the untold stories. Now it’s our turn. Let’s embrace, listen, watch, and grow.

Let it Fall

John Ridley’s dynamic documentary that brings you straight back into the harrowing world of Los Angeles in 1992 and the beating of Rodney King, but dives deeper into the painful distress and distrust that accumulated (and still grows today) between the African American communities and LAPD preceding the Los Angeles protests, and subsequent riots, of 1992. Shown through home videos, news coverage, and archived materials,  be prepared for a raw and heart breaking journey back in time and be ready to understand the events of 2020 in ways you never anticipated.


I Am Not Your Negro

Raoul Peck brings to life James Baldwin’s final manuscript

Based on the left behind manuscripts of James Baldwin’s final work “Remember This House,” I Am Not Your Negro tells the stories of Mr. Baldwin’s close friends Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evans, and Malcom X. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this powerful documentary explores the truth of life, racism, and death by three seminal leaders in the African American communities. Described as a “hard truth about racism—not to be missed.”


True Justice

Directed and produced by Peter Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt and George Kunhardt.

America has become the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world, authorized the execution of hundreds of condemned prisoners and continued to struggle to recover from a long history of racial injustice. For more than three decades, Alabama public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. This HBO documentary follows Stevenson’s struggle to create greater fairness in the system and shows how racial injustice emerged, evolved and continues to threaten the country.



Filmmaker Ava DuVernay

This 2016 documentary dives into the 13th amendment and the role it plays in maintaining the racial hierarchy as well as the criminalization of African-American males. Did you know that in 2015 30% of the African American male population had permanently lost their right to vote? This powerful documentary unpacks systemic oppression at it’s very root (or top)—the Constitution.


The Central Park Five

Filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon

The Central Park Five is a 2012 documentary film about the Central Park jogger case, directed by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and her husband David McMahon. Five Black and Latinos were falsely accused and convicted of beating and raping a female jogger in Central Park, and after spending from 6 to 13 years in prison, a serial rapist confused to the crime. The documentary covers the arrests, interrogations, trials, convictions and vacating the convictions of the five men who were teenagers in 1989 at the time of the case.


The Hate U Give

Directed by George Tillman

Based on a novel by Angie Thomas.

This powerful storyline portrays a teenage girl named Starr Carter who endures racism, black identity and police brutality after witnessing her black friend murdered by the police. Starr is constantly switching between two worlds—the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The film addresses a valuable message demonstrating all members of human race should be treated equal regardless of our wrongful judgment of others. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.



Executive-produced by R.J. Cutler

“Dear…” takes an inventive and cinematic approach to biographies of the most iconic figures in society today by using letters written by those whose lives have been changed through their work. The documentary series profiles internationally recognized leaders including Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Yara Shahidi, Stevie Wonder, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland, Big Bird and more. “Dear…” is executive-produced by Emmy Award and Peabody Award winner R.J. Cutler alongside Todd Lubin, Jay Peterson, Jane Cha and Lyle Gamm. Matador Content produces the series for Apple.


Paris is Burning

Filmmaker Jennie Livingston

The importance of Livingston’s exploration of New York ball culture in the 1980s only grows as the years pass. It was a rare film that gave center stage to queer people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, whose charisma and humanity shines through both their interviews and their fierce routines and performances. The film has also become a pop culture phenomenon, solidified by its constant referencing in RuPaul’s Drag Race, with its challenges engineered around ‘shade’, ‘reading’ and voguing. An additional poignancy watching the film today is seeing how many of the wonderful gay men and trans women have passed away, including one hugely likable young queen who was tragically murdered during the production.