Must-see Documentaries on International Development

On January 9, 2014

The following list of documentaries present some of the most interesting films that have provoked debates and controversies. Most of the documentaries are about Africa with regards to various problems notably foreign Aid, Water, conflicts, capitalism, mining etc..
NB: click on the title to watch the full movie online under creative commons or shared by individual persons. To buy the DVD, please visit the official Website of each film below the description.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism 

shock doctrine

Official Website: www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine
A must see for anyone who wants to understand “the new world order” and see where free markets and privatization are leading us. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a documentary adaptation of the Canadian author Naomi Klein’s 2007 book by the same name. The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how neo-liberal capitalism is re-engineering our societies, feeding on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

The End of Poverty?

The End of Poverty

The Film examines the history and impact of economic inequality in the third world. It argues tat “global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies — in other words, wealthy countries taking advantage of poor, developing countries”.
Official Website: www.theendofpoverty.com

What are we doing here?

What are we doing here
   image from imdb.com

Official Website: www.whatarewedoinghere.net/

“Absolutely fantastic!” – CNN’s Isha Sesay. The documentary explores why the charity given to Africa over the last five decades has been largely ineffective and at times harmful.  The controversial documentary tells the story why after 50 years of Western involvement, billions of dollars in foreign assistance and countless promises, Africa is still so poor. The film tells the story of 3 brothers and a cousin who travel across Africa in an attempt to understand one big problem: the failure to end poverty in Africa.

 Why Poverty? 

WhyPoverty

Official Website: www.whypoverty.net

8 Documentaries, 30 Short Films. All about poverty, wealth and inequality. Why Poverty? is an international documentary season that uses film to get people talking about hunger and poverty. Over 60 broadcasters are involved. Find out more at whypoverty.net and join the online debate using #whypoverty hashtag on twitter and Google+. You can watch all the films and look at the Facilitator’s/Educator’s Guide online. You can download the films and the Faciltitator’s Guide PDF.

The Upright Man: The Thomas Sankara

sankara
image from libya360.wordpress.com

This a must-see documentary that exposes an example of an African man who took the courage to refuse Foreign Aid, adopted sel-reliance policies for his country. Thomas Sanakara was a Burkinabé military captain, Pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Many revolutionary leaders talk the talk, but don’t always walk the walk. But Sankara’s revolutionary principles guided his own life and country of Burkina Faso. Sankara’s vision to Africa had been unique: he encouraged the growth of the local industry, preached self reliance, banned the importation of several items into Burkina Faso, refused foreign Aid. His policy was oriented toward fighting corruption, reforestation, averting famine, and making education and health real priorities.  In 1987 , Thomas Sankara was killed at the orders of one of his oldest friends, now President Blaise Compaoré stating that Sankara jeopardized foreign relations with France and neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Gasland

Gasland

An Oscar nominated film, Josh Fox takes a deeper look at the dangers of hydraulic fracturing the controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil, now occurring in 32 countries worldwide.
Official Website: www.gaslandthemovie.com

The Corporation

The Corporation
image from www.zeitgeistfilms.com

‘The Corporation’ is Winner of 26 International Awards and 10 Audience Choice Awards. the Film examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives.
Official Website: www.thecorporation.com/

Inside Job 

inside job

2010 Oscar Winner for Best Documentary, the film’ provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008.
Official Website: www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century

Human Resources

The Film explores the rise of mechanistic philosophy and the exploitation of human beings under modern hierarchical systems. Topics covered include behaviorism, scientific management, work-place democracy, schooling, frustration-aggression hypothesis and human experimentation.
Offcial website: http://metanoia-films.org

Life and Debt

Life and Debt

The film examines the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture. Specifically it exposes the impact  of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s globalization policies. Life and Debt is a feature-length documentary which addresses the impact of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and current globalization policies on a developing country.
Official Website: www.lifeanddebt.org/

Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies      

Zimbabwe Shadows and Lies
image from pbs.org

The 2006 film exposes how a population struggling with hunger and poverty, and living in fear of a government that has become a brutal dictatorship.
Official Website: www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/ 

The New Rulers of the World

new_rulers
image from www.versobooks.com

In order to examine the true effects of globalization, John Pilger turns the spotlight on Indonesia, a country described by the World Bank as a model pupil until its globalized economy collapsed in 1998. The film looks at the great multinationals, governments and institutions that back them — the IMF and the World Bank. Under IMF rules, millions of people throughout the world lose their jobs and livelihood. The film asks some penetrating questions. Who are the real beneficiaries of the globalized economy?Official Website: http://johnpilger.com/videos/the-new-rulers-of-the-world

The Price of Aid

priceaid
image from Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

The film reveals the vast bureaucratic network of American aid agencies involved in the ‘hunger business,’ one in which rich countries benefit from the problems of poor countries. U.S. aid policies are explained in interviews with representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Coalition for Food Aid, CARE, the World Bank, the Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service, the Food for Peace Program, and U.S. government officials.
Official Website: http://icarusfilms.com/new2004/aid.html

Beyond Good Intentions

Beyond-Good-Intentions
image from www.how-matters.org

film series by an researcher and aid worker Tori Hogan exploring what really works in international aid. The 10-part series was shot in eight different countries during her year-long trip around the world in 2006-2007, and was later released in 2009.

Official Website: www.beyondgoodintentions.com

Hot For Profit

hotforprofit

This is a documentary about poverty from the case of Nicaragua. It analyses both societies from the perspectives of the NGOs, the media, the education, the politicians and the religion, and it challenges the UN eight objectives for the new millennium. Hot For Profit will make you think about your attitude and the potential for change that a single individual may have. (Excerpt from main website)
Official Website: http://hotforprofit.com

Ashley Judd on Foreign Aid, Poverty and Diseases in Developing countries 

Ashley Judd
image from YT video

The film actress and political activist Ashley Judd has traveled to places affected by illness and poverty such as Cambodia, Kenya, Rwanda, and many others. In the conference held by NDI, Judd witnesses the life of the poor and uneducated, she has since become an global ambassador for YouthAIDS, a prevention program under Population Services International.  shes an active advocate for preventing poverty and promoting awareness internationally.

Malawi’s Green Revolution

Malawi Green Revolution
Image from thehindu.com

The story is part of special project undertaken by the African Journalist Alex Chamwada on Africa’s Potential aired on Citizen TV in December 2009. The three parts (part 1, part 2, part 3) film shows the role of agricultural extension services in food security. The President of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika has once said in 2008: ”enough is enough. I am not going to go on my knees to beg for food. Let us grow the food ourselves”. A good read on the Malawi Case is detailed in an article from the NGO GRAIN entitled Unravelling the “miracle” of Malawi’s green revolution (2010).

Ghosts of Rwanda

ghostsofrwanda

The PBS two-hour documentary offers eyewitness accounts of the Rwanda genocide. FRONTLINE illustrates the failures that enabled the slaughter of 800,000 people to occur unchallenged by the global community. The Film features interviews with Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and former National Security Adviser Anthony Lake as well as interviews with the Hutu killers themselves.
Official Website: www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/

Rural Internet Kiosk (RIK) 

RIK project-internetsociety.org
image from www.internetsociety.org

Short documentary features ICT development in Africa with emphasis on how technology is changing the way rural Africa communicates. The Rural Internet Kiosk is 100% solar powered and is connected to the Internet via Satellite using Astra2Connect VSAT technology. Official producer: Voices of Africa for Sustainable Development (VOA4SD) is “training the trainers” in the fields of ICT for Development and utilizes Internet and computers to offer “development” courses at a nominal fee. It works to build the capacity of local youth to empower themselves through the Internet and social enterprise. The VOA4SD is World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) winner.  

Home Movie

home

Official Website: www.homethemovie.org/  

The French environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand offer us a stunning aerial footages from fifty-four countries, ‘Home’ is a depiction of how Earth’s problems are all interlinked. The Movie let us think how humans has broken a balance of more than 4 billion years of evolution of the Earth and put its future at risk.

The Yes Men Fix the World

The Yes Men Fix the World

The Film is a screwball true story about two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world’s most outrageous pranks. The Yes Lab is devoted to helping progressive organizations and individuals carry out media-getting creative actions around well-considered goals.

Bakara  

baraka

A film without dialogue, “Baraka” is a reflection on the evolution of the Earth, humanity and their relationship from the existing universal languages: image, voices, sounds and music. The director and his team have visited 24 countries during fourteen months

Official Website: www.barakathefilm.com

 Qatsi Trilogy

qatsi -creterion collection website

The trilogy is a collection of 3 films: koyaanisqatsiPowaqqatsi and Koyaanisqatsi. The Documentaries are powerful, moving, and true art. They inspects the role of humans in the light of two concepts vital for our true development: respect for Earth  and the complex dynamics of cohabiting in cities.

Official Website: ww.qatsi.org

Earthlings

Earthlings
image from Wikipedia

Earthlings is documentary on how humans use other animal species nowadays. Hidden cameras and images are used to show the habitual practices employed by some of the biggest industries of the world that exploit animals for economic revenue. Earthlings, which has been awarded several prizes.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

blue_gold
image from www.imdb.com

This documentary examines the environmental and political consequences of the decrease in water supply on the planet. The movie focuses on success stories of water activists around the world and calls for community action. This film is based on the book Blue and Gold: The Right to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke. An article review of the Book is worth reading published at Human Ecology Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, 200.

Stealing Africa: How much profit is fair?

stealing africa

How is it that Africa is so rich in resources and yet so poor? This documentary attempts to answer this difficult question. Stealing Africa directed by Danish film-maker Christoffer Guldbrandsen  investigates reports of widespread criminality by well-known multinational companies operating in Africa.
Official Website: www.steps.co.za

How to Rob Africa: Why does the Western world feed Africa with one hand while taking from it with the other?

howtorobAfrica
image from www.afriversal.com

The Western wealthy countries often criticize African nations for corruption. Yet the West is also culpable too when the dirty money is channeled into bank accounts in Europe and the US. The film, How to Rob Africa, takes this further by focusing on what many leaders in high office do that leaves the continent in a bad shape.
Official Website: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/

Horn of Africa Crisis: Somalia’s Famine

horn_africa

Official Website: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/

The Horn of Africa region is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1984, and Ethiopia is caught in the middle.

The Great African Scandal

african_scandal
image from www.headlinesafrica.com

Academic Robert Beckford visits Ghana to investigate the hidden costs of rice, chocolate and gold. He discovers child laborers farming cocoa instead of attending school and asks if the activities of multinationals, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have actually made the country’s problems worse. The Film explains why 50 years after independence, a country so rich in natural resources is one of the poorest in the world.

The VICE Guide to Congo

vice_congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world.  however, it has 80% of the world’s supply in Coltan,a mineral that is used in the production of nearly every cell phone and computer. The film is about the controversy surrounding the so-called conflict minerals of Congo. It exposes complex issues of politics, armed conflict, and corruption.
Official Website: http://www.vice.com

Land rush  

Land-Rush

For 20 years, the hunger crisis seemed to be under control. But when the world food system began to fall apart in 2008, prices had increased, and the African continent had become a playground for foreign investors. This investigative documentary focuses on Sosumar, a huge project that has the Malian government collaborating with a large group of foreign investors. Rich countries have started buying up and leasing fertile tracts of the developing world.

Running Dry

running_dry
image from www.nationalgeographic.com

A hard-hitting short documentary about  the growing global water crisis.

Official Website: www.runningdry.org/world.html

Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

Commanding Heights

This PBS Storyline provides a six-hour TV program that illustrates the rise of the free-market economy which reigns in most countries today. This system has began series began in 1914. After the dreadful First World war, Capitalism comes to rise, but these markets are soon trumped by Hitler and others with their communist and fascist ideas. During the WWII and after the disintegration of communism, economies are stagnant once again. Things changed when Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan came into power during the 1980′s. If you cannot watch these videos in your country. please visit YouTube  (Ep1: The Battle of IdeasEp2The Agony of Reform Ep3The New Rules of the Game ).
Official Website: www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/hi/index.html

Scientists Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money

scientistsunderattack (infowarshop.com)

It is a documentary thriller on the theme of genetic engineering and the independence of science. We exemplary show the fate of scientists – such as Árpád Pusztai and Ignacio Chapela – who do research in the field of genetic engineering and who were punished hard through character assassination and by withdrawing their means of research from them. They are only examples for many important scientists whose careers have been ruined. Statements of scientists prove that 95 % of the scientists in the field of genetic engineering are paid by the industry. Only 5% are independent. The loss of freedom of thought and democracy is obvious. May the public – may we all – still trust the scientists? (Excerpt from main website).
Official Website: http://scientistsunderattack.com

Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa 

Future Agricultures conference
Image from future-agricultures.org

What makes African governments invest in agriculture? The International Conference on Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa, organized in 18-20 March 2013, Pretoria, South Africa has brought together key figures from research, politics, donor organisations and civil society to answer questions at stake including: What motivates African governments to invest in different kinds of agricultural development? ; What influence do domestic politics, external donors and pan-African networks have? ; How successful can civil society and social movements be in pushing for more pro-poor agricultural policy in Africa? The Conference includes six plenary sessions that you can watch online.

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