8 Powerful Documentaries

Contrary to the popular saying, “Ignorance is bliss,” I believe the opposite: Ignorance is Not Bliss. It is not healthy to ignore the issues and problems of the world around us. If we know nothing of the evil around us, how can we address it? Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or wisdom. Read Proverbs 2 for a biblical view of wisdom. Documentaries are just one of the few ways to be informed. This is a list of 8 documentaries – half of which I have seen, and the other half I would like to see.

The Four I’ve Seen

1. Redlight – This is a powerful documentary about child sexploitation, an epidemic happening in every country around the world, including the United States. This documentary focuses on Cambodia, but is very informative and insightful for trafficking anywhere. Below is the first of five parts, viewable on youtube. If you would like to learn more about child trafficking (sexploitation), it is worth watching, though viewer discretion is advised.

Filmed over a four-year period, REDLIGHT focuses on the personal stories of young Cambodian victims and two advocates for change: Somaly Mam and Mu Sochua. Using footage smuggled out of brothels and harrowing testimonials, REDLIGHT follows the plight of several current and former child sex slaves. Some are trying to regain entry into Cambodian society to find some semblance of normality after their horrific experiences. Other stories highlight the plight of victims who are attempting to bring the perpetrators to justice. Their torturous yet ultimately heroic battles to find witnesses and take brothel owners to court are dramatically brought to life in this topical and moving feature documentary.

2. Beyond the Gates of Spendor – Many confuse this with the movie made about the same true story, End of the Spear. Both are very good depictions of Jim Elliot (whose most famous quote is “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”) Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian who died trying to reach the Huaorani tribe of eastern Ecuador.

Watch online on Hulu here.

Based on the amazing true story that inspired Elisabeth Elliot’s bestseller, Through Gates of Splendor, comes an incredible documentary film. When five missionary families travel to Ecuador, they find creative ways to connect with an isolated tribe, the Waodani, although at first they find acceptance, eventually, some meet hostility, and ultimately death. In a testament to unsurpassed forgiveness, however, members of the slain missionaries’ families return to the Amazonian basin and live among the tribe. Featuring firsthand accounts of this fascinating story, including recent tribe interview, this powerful, award-winning documentary is one you will never forget.

3. Expelled – This is the  documentary by Ben Stein which addresses Intelligent Design in the scientific community. It also proves that scientists have been met with harsh opposition or received punishments from schools, universities, and the scientific community simply for asking “inconvenient questions.” Very imfortative and a must-see documentary on Creationism.

Watch on youtube or rent the documentary.

This movie follows Ben Stein as he seeks to prove that far from being a pseudo-science trying to undermine evolutionary biology, Intelligent Design is in fact a legitimate science being suppressed by a scientific establishment that is hostile to any deviation from the status quo.

4. Born Into Brothels – Since I am passionate about issues relating to child trafficking, this documentary was right up my alley. I would recommend it to any0ne interested in helping women or children who have been abused, or anyone seeking to “help the least of these.”

Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Kolkata (Calcutta) to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. Much of their work was used in the film, and the filmmakers recorded the classes as well as daily life in the red light district. The children’s work was exhibited, and one boy was even sent to a photography conference in Amsterdam. Briski also recorded her efforts to place the children in boarding schools.

The Four I Want to See

1. 180 – Surprisingly, this documentary isn’t even out yet. Living Waters Ministries will present an award winning documentary, “180” which will premiere September 26, 2011. You will be able to watch it free here. The first video is a trailer, and the second is Ray Comfort giving more information about the upcoming documentary. It interests me because it shows people changing their minds about abortion in a matter of seconds or minutes. Who doesn’t want to know what was said to have this big of an impact?

2. Bloodmoney – This is a documentary about abortion that takes a radically different approach. Most anti-abortion videos inform us that abortion is murder because a fetus is a human beginning at conception and often display very real and gruesome images of abortions. That is a very valid approach because it reveals truth, but I am interested to see this documentary approach the issue of how corrupt the whole abortion industry is in itself.

If you want the stark truth about the abortion industry in America (without getting too grotesque), you need to get a copy of Bloodmoney.

We take a critical look into the dark origins of abortion, and return with a deeply disturbing picture: how a movement based on racism and population control usurped the momentum of the women’s rights movement to create something truly despicable– a multi-billion dollar industry that literally thrives on the destruction of unborn babies and the traumatizing of young pregnant women.

It’s not about hearsay. It’s not about political bias. We went right to the historical documents and got it from their own lips. We went directly to the women involved in the cases that made abortion legal. We went directly to abortion clinic owners. We spoke directly with women who’d had multiple abortions, and we let them paint the picture of how the industry really works.

3. Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth – This is another documentary relating to the sex trade, though focusing specifically of the sex trade in the United States. Visit the documentary’s website to learn more about the film and how to take action.

In 2007, a group of student photojournalists embarked on a journey through 20+ nations on every inhabitable continent, motivated by their love for photography and their passion for justice. At the outset, their experiences seemed diverse, even random. However, a common thread of human suffering emerged as their travels exposed them to a dark, seldom discussed side of humanity– children being bought and sold to satisfy the sexual pleasures of other humans.

4. Jesus Camp – On lists of Must-See Documentaries, this usually makes the list. Non-Christians often view this and think it portrays all of Evangelical Christianity, but it does not. This video shows more of the Pentecostal/charismatic side of Christianity. You can find out more on the Jesus Camp Movie Website and even watch it on youtube (which I am going to do soon as well). Watch it and form your own opinion about it. How can we help portray Christianity as it is to us?

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Pentecostal/charismatic summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practicing their “prophetic gifts” and being taught that they can “take back America for Christ.” According to the distributor, it “doesn’t come with any prepackaged point of view” and tries to be “an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community.”


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