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The Best Social Change Documentaries of 2011

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Dec 31, 2011
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The Best Social Change Documentaries of 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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Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

Founded in 2006, our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

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Why join Films For Action?

Goal: To rapidly transition to a just, ecologically sustainable, holistic way of living as fast as possible.

We believe the first step to achieve this goal should be an information delivery network that can amplify the impacts of all our efforts 1000 fold. 

Although Films For Action is centered around film - its true objective is the transformation of the world. This means moving away from the unsustainable paradigm we have now to a regenerative paradigm, as fast as humanly possible.  

Film is the medium of delivery -- the catalyst, the metabolizing agent to speed up, amplify and multiply the effects of every transition movement on the planet. And of course, "transition" contains it all - social justice, ecological regeneration, true democracy, egalitarian economics, universal empathy, less cultural insanity and more happiness and well-being.

All of these movements need a media ecosystem that supports this transition, rather than the media we have today which marginalizes it, ignores it, sanitizes it, suppresses it, or actively fights it. There is certainly good coverage across many different news outlets, and the quality and depth varies, but in terms of volume, the good stuff is easily lost in the deluge of superficial concerns.

Watch any network TV channel for 24 hours or read the newspaper for a week, and you will see what we mean. The dominant narratives which drive the national debate and become "common knowledge" is more often superficial, focused on symptoms rather than root causes, and reinforces the conventional "two sides" within the status quo. The lies and spin promoted by figures in power become well known, while voices that challenge and expand the range of debate rarely get heard. But most importantly, the level of repetition and volume of coverage is what counts. What gets covered day after day, and what gets covered once and is forgotten, or not covered at all? That's why we need a media movement that's dedicated to elevating the voices that aren't getting heard. We need media alternatives that make social change its primary focus. That's why Films For Action exists.

Ultimately, we're just one star in this growing constellation of new media, but we aim to do our part by cultivating the best video library dedicated to transition online, and we hope you'll join us