7 films on social change you must see

February 22, 2018

In case you haven’t already heard, the Berlinale (short for ‘Berlin International Film Festival’) is well under way in this beloved city we call home. While we at TolaData may be no filmmakers, that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate watching them on the big screen. The film buffs among us weigh in on our favourite titles about social change that promise to widen your horizons, so put them on your to-watch list right away and don’t forget to pass the popcorn!

1. Artykul osiemnasty (‘Article 18’)

Poland, 2017

“‘Artykul osiemnasty’ refers to Article 18 of the Polish Constitution, which says that marriage as an institution should be protected by state — as long as it’s between a man and a woman. If you’re wondering why Poland has failed to pass a law that acknowledges same-sex marriage, this film might answer some of your questions.

To me, it feels incredibly unjust and inappropriate to exclude a group of people from having the same rights as others. And it’s outrageous this is a European country in the 21st century, yet politicians from across the political spectrum still refuse to stand for marriage equality because they’re afraid to mess with the church. ‘Artykul osiemnasty’ gives a voice to those who simply wish to live in their lives as they see fit, which their homeland unfortunately doesn’t recognise.”  Paulina Sobieszuk, Product Trainer

2. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

USA, 2007

“‘Zeitgeist: Moving Forward’ talks about what’s wrong with the current state of capitalism and presents possible solutions on how it can be improved. This documentary had a profound impact on me and led me to make some changes a few years ago, such as adopting a more minimalist lifestyle and quitting my job in Brazil to move to Europe.

One of the possible solutions presented in ‘Zeitgeist’ is a resource-based economy, put forth by American futurist Jacque Fresco and his Venus Project, which is defined as a system in which goods and services are available without having to trade with money, credits, barter, or any other system or debt or servitude. There’s a documentary, ‘Paradise or Oblivion’, that explains a bit about their ideas — basically, to automate as many things as possible, eliminate money, have a smarter distribution of resources and adopt a scientific approach in making decisions, instead of leaving them in the hands of politicians. I recommend both films!”  Will Ceolin, Front-End Developer

3. Sovdagari (‘The Trader’)

Georgia, 2018

“‘Sovdagari’ depicts rural life in Georgia; a world in which its inhabitants face crushing poverty and where some means of exchange comes in the form of a commodity like potatoes — completely unimaginable in the west. This short film may only be 23 minutes in length, but it is powerful in getting you to see the resilience these people possess as they fight their daily struggles in their pursuit for a better life.” — Andrew Pham, Co-Founder/ Data & Partnerships

4. Menstrual Man

India/ Singapore, 2013

“‘Menstrual Man’ tells an inspiring story about Arunachalam Muruganantham, an odd-job worker from south India turned social entrepreneur, who devised simple machines that enabled rural women to produce low-cost sanitary pads for their communities, since they could not afford those manufactured by larger corporations. His invention not only created jobs and income for these women, it also improved their quality of life during menstruation.

What I found particularly admirable about Muruganantham was his ingenuity and never-say-die attitude in finding a solution to a problem that women in his community were so familiar with, yet felt taboo to speak about. From designing sanitary pads to building the machine and even testing the prototypes himself (which made for a few laughs), he faced numerous setbacks but never gave up — not even when he was ostracised by those he knew and loved. A true hero!” — Pin-Ji Tang, Content Manager

5. Milk

USA, 2008

“I liked ‘Milk’, which starrs Sean Penn, even though the film focuses more on prominent American LGBT activist Harvey Milk than on the issues of prejudice and discrimination. Milk was a pioneer of his kind who fought for gay rights and became the first openly gay politician to be elected to office in California in 1977. Despite his efforts, I think many problems of that time still exist today.” — Leon Holub, Full-Stack Developer

6. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

USA, 2015

“‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things’ features Americans from different walks of life who live by a ‘less is more’ philosophy, in which they reject the ideal that buying more things brings happiness.

The documentary made me realise that accumulating material things limits our freedom in life. I was really inspired and started to give away clothes and all the stuff that I’d kept but almost never used. Now, whenever I need something that I’ll only use once, I would ask to borrow it instead of purchasing it and then leaving it in my closet. When my basement storage was broken into by thieves last month, they didn’t steal anything as there were only cardboards and other things that were of no value to them!” — Rafael Muñoz Cárdenas, Software Engineer

7. Bowling For Columbine

USA, 2002

“‘Bowling For Columbine’ may have been made in 2002 but it, sadly, remains every bit as relevant given the number of shootings that continue to take place in the U.S. today. It’s shocking when you realise that not much has changed since the Columbine High School massacre two decades ago, which inspired Michael Moore to make this documentary that explores the myriad reasons behind gun violence in America.” — Jo Bennett, Head of Business Development

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