10 Documentaries about Corporate Accountability, Human Rights and Environmental Justice to Check Out

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In an era of fake news, doctored video and a government-sanctioned war on reality, documentaries are truly more important than ever. Filmmaker SImon Kilmurry writes that “Documentary film is essential to a healthy and democratic society — that is why it is feared by autocrats.” Documentarians are often arrested, and even killed just for doing their job. The following films expose the dark depths of some of ERI’s most important missions; corporate accountability, human rights, and environmental justice.

 

Roger and Me

Directed by Michael Moore

Roger and Me marks the debut film of Michael Moore. It is best known for the feature that catapulted Moore into the role of poster child for making anti-war, anti-corporate, and altogether stick-it-to-the-man documentaries. Roger and Me follows Moore as he attempts to track down the CEO of General Motors, who had just spontaneously shut down all of the auto plants in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. Thirty-thousand people were now out of work. The film shows how the wealthy Republican party entraps working class people to do their own bidding, while actively working against their best interests. This is particularly important now, considering that trump overwhelmingly won the vote of the white, uneducated, working class.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Youtube.

 

Crude Impact

Directed by James Jandak Woo

Crude Impact acts almost as a precursor to the blockbuster Mad Max films, serving as an explanation for why there is no oil and how the earth has turned to violent chaos as a result. It connects the inherent suffering of humans to the profitable suffering of the environment, particularly stemming from the fossil fuel industry. Taking place in the beginning of time to the distant future, and stemming across the West African Delta region to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, and from Washington to Shanghai, Crude Impact is a disturbing and grotesque examination into the business of ethical and environmental depletion.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Youtube and Amazon Prime.

 

Dark Money

Directed by Kimberly Reed

V for Vendetta, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Dark Money. All are riveting political thrillers, but what makes Dark Money stand out is the rather disconcerting fact that it is completely true. The film examines the origin and consequences of Citizens United, a law granting personhood to corporations.This allows them to fund political campaigns to elect whichever (always Republican) candidate that will act in their best interest. Dark Money introduces players from both sides of the fight. While it doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, it does leave you with seeds of hope for the future of our democracy.

Watch the trailer here.

Available to watch on Netflix.

 

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Directed by Alex Gibney

One of the biggest business scandals in American history was the Enron Scandal. Gibney’s film explains the scandal, and attempts to decipher how what was essentially a ponzi scheme became the seventh largest corporation in America and one of the five largest audit and accountancy partnerships in the world. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room reveals a level of corporate greed that makes the Koch Brothers look like socialist saints. This is not an economic documentary, but one of true crime. Similar to Dark Money, this film does not have a happy ending, but instead acts as a battle cry for the fight against corporate crime.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

 

Shock Doctrine

Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross

Shock Doctrine investigates the long-running but ever-expanding practice of “disaster capitalism”. Based on the 2007 book by Naomi Klein, this documentary, through real newsreel footage and interviews, attempts to affirm the theory that America’s free market economy feeds on natural disasters, war, and terror to establish American dominance. It reveals how drastically America’s economy improves after developing nations and non-democratic nations face hardship. Some examples include Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Youtube.

 

5 Broken Cameras

Directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

The title is literal. Through the perspectives of five different people (each using a broken camera), a different aspect of the Palestine/Israel conflict is highlighted. America is Israel’s closest ally. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult for the average citizen to gain insight into the plight of the Palestinians, since most coverage favors the Israelis. This films proves that there is able to be at least some degree of bipartisan coverage relating to Palestine and Israel. Regardless of your stance on this very divisive subject, if you watch one of the films on this list, 5 Broken Cameras is not to be missed.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Vimeo and Youtube.

 

Call me Kuchu

Directed by  Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright

Considering the fact that the current presidential administration is dismantling LGBT rights almost monthly, it can understandably be easy to not focus on the international atrocities regarding LGBT equality. Call me Kuchu is titularly named for the Swahili word to refer to Ugandan homosexuals. Uganda is essentially ground zero for homophobia. The events of the film are jump-started by the brutal and unsolved murder of Uganda’s first openly gay man, David Kato. Call me Kuchu links the systematic oppression of homosexuals to its former colonialism by Great Britain. Because of this sour historical point, (supposed) western ideals such as LGBT acceptance is directly associated with colonialism and national disrespect. Both sides of the debate are heard, which is just as frustrating as it is important.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

 

The Coconut Revolution

Directed by Dom Rotheroe

The nasty subject of colonialism once again arises in The Coconut Revolution. The Coconut Revolution relays the academically underexposed Bougainville Civil War, in Papua New Guinea. It has been deemed the world’s first successful eco-revolution, and even influenced the basic of the plot for the blockbuster movie Avatar. The central catalyst of the Bougainville Civil War was the unethical and unlawful operation of the giant mining corporation, Rio Tinto Zinc. Destroying their environment and their community, the indigenous people fought back. They had considerably less resources than the Papuan army, so they had no choice but to use coconut oil to fuel their vehicles. Hence the title.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Amazon Prime and Youtube.

 

The True Cost

Directed by Andrew Morgan

Fast fashion, like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara, among others is known and popular for its cheap price tags and fresh-off-the-runway styles. Unfortunately, the real price of fast fashion is way more. Instead of just using statistics, Andrew Morgan actually visits Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, and China. There, he goes undercover at the brutal sweatshops that are the reason major brand manufacturers minimize costs and maximize profits. Finally, the film returns to America to examine the ever-growing culture of mass consumption. Unlike many other papers and documentaries that attempt to shame viewers into forsaking anything not made with five square blocks of their home, The True Cost is not meant to guilt, but to enlighten. Please look out for an upcoming blog post, specifically delving into the dangerous world of fast fashion.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Netflix

 

Crude

Directed by Joe Berlinger

A cross between a courtroom drama and horror flick, Crude details the then ongoing class action suit against oil giant Chevron in Ecuador. Between 2006 and 2007, Chevron was sued the amount $27 billion for their the drilling of the Lago Agrio oil field. The environmental and in turn economic effects, has desecrated the 30,000 strong community of Ecuadorians. It has been described as the “Amazon Chernobyl.” Crude brings a light on the often thankless and always uphill battle that environmental lawyers and activists face every day. SPOILER – Almost a decade after the film’s release, the case is still not completely over.

Watch the trailer here. Available to watch on Amazon Prime and Youtube.

This blog was written by Olivia Smith, former communications intern at EarthRights International's U.S. office. She attends Bard College.

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