Making Movies to Change the World
The result is a "rockumentary" featuring celebrities (Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd) and musicians (Switchfoot, Natasha Bedingfield, Moby) all performing gratis. All profits go to projects combating human trafficking. The film, a mix of documentary footage, interviews, and musical performances, depicts the problem clearly and points to its website for ways to respond through donations to anti-slavery organizations, advocacy, awareness campaigns, and more. In the film's opening month, ticket sales alone raised over $20,000 for those programs, with thousands more pouring in through website and text-messaging donations.
"Left home at the age of seven / one year later I'm carryin' an AK-47."
So go the lyrics of a song by hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal, the title character in this compelling film. As a young boy caught in the chaos of Sudan's civil war, Jal was one of 10,000 child soldiers conscripted by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, forced to kill and engage in other atrocities. Jal eventually escaped and left his homeland; today, as a rising music star, he travels the world sharing his story, even in the halls of the U.S. State Department.
Jal and the film's ultimate plea is for peace in his native Sudan; he wants to be a part of that process by building a school in his home village: "If people are educated," he says, "there will be less war."
The closing credits show how viewers can donate to the new school or sponsor a Sudanese child through Gua Africa, an organization Jal founded.
Matt Dornic of Washington, D.C., opted for child sponsorship soon after watching the film. "For a hundred bucks a month, to take a child all the way through high school and college —you can't go wrong with that," says Dornic.
Other socially conscious documentaries from 2008 include We Are Together, about orphans in South Africa; Flow: For Love of Water, about how privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply is denying water to the poor; Dear Zachary, a filmmaker's memoir of a murdered friend, and a call for bail reform in Canada; Sons of Lwala, about two Kenyan brothers who came to the U.S. for their medical degrees, then returned home to finish a clinic their father had started before dying of aids; Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, about the freedom (or lack thereof) to discuss the theory of intelligent design in academic settings; A Walk to Beautiful, about Ethiopian women who are rejected and ostracized after difficult childbirths leave them infertile; I.O.U.S.A., about America's increasing national debt and the inevitable economic meltdown; Trouble the Water, an up-close-and-personal look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The number of such documentaries, and their viewers' responses, suggest that they are serving "to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness" (Isa. 42:7). Many have seen that light. And it's on the big screen.
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The documentaries featured here are all recommend ways for viewers to take action. Learn more at their official websites:
As We Forgive, Call + Response, War Child, We Are Together, Flow: For Love of Water, Dear Zachary, Sons of Lwala, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, A Walk to Beautiful, I.O.U.S.A., and Trouble the Water