The Best Social Change Documentaries of 2011
The Best Social Change Documentaries of 2011
By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Dec 31, 2011

2011 will likely be remembered in America as the year that the nation's youth finally started to wake up - all that bubbling knowledge of the world's problems, all the discontent and disillusion with our broken system finally burst into a flurry of creative action. Our understandings of the deep, structural flaws in our economy, politics and culture reached new heights of collective awareness, and this collective understanding has given way to collective action in a myriad of movements. 

Among them: Occupy Wall St, Zeitgeist, Transition Towns, Permaculture, Relocalization, and 350.org. While they each focus on a different aspect of the problem, they share a common foundation of understanding, a common direction, and complimentary goals.

Likewise, the films of 2011 captured the spirit of these movements and the deep analysis of both the problem and the solutions - which go beyond hacking at branches to address the root issues.

Without further ado, the 10 best activist documentaries of 2011 (click the links to watch them for free online):

Subconscious War is a short documentary on media, reality, and the culture of violence, It covers the prophecies of Aldous Huxley and Neil Postman's grim assessment of our Brave New World and relates these to our violence and the cultural influences that fosters it today.
This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future.
Directed by Franklin Lopez, END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations.Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END: CIV asks: If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and...
A series of BBC films about how humans have been colonised by the machines we have built. Although we don't realise it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. 
The Tea Party movement has taken American politics by storm. But is this truly a populist uprising or one of the greatest feats of propaganda ever seen? Seeking to find out, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham embeds himself in the Tea Party uprising.
A feature length documentary by Peter Joseph that presents the case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.
Scott Noble, who also produced Lifting the Veil, pulls together a combination of internet and original footage to create the first feature-length documentary on Occupy Wall St, telling the story and motivation behind the movement in its own words.
The Crisis of Civilization is a documentary feature film investigating how global crises like ecological disaster, financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages are converging symptoms of a single, failed global system.
This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the "graveyard of social movements", the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the escalation of neocon policies under Obama...
Going local’ is a powerful strategy to repair our fractured world—our ecosystems, our societies and our selvesEconomic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking.
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Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 4,494 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,382 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 3,991 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 3,828 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 3,734 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 2,453 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 1,936 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,782 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,711 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 1,685 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,428 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,297 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,242 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 1,175 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 831 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 615 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 523 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 477 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
The Price of Certainty
7 min · 391 views today · It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 329 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
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The Best Social Change Documentaries of 2011