Book to Action 2021: Equity, Health and Sustainability | Related Documentary Resources
Below is a curated list of documentaries with discussion and action guides. Watch then discuss as a community. Build a panel of local community partners to apply lessons learned to your locale. Documentary producers are often excellent community partners and potential speakers, especially as films often offer discussion guides and resources for community members looking to get involved.
Be sure to check Hoopla and Kanopy (if your library uses these services) for more. Note: If you are looking for films that are only on Netflix, they do offer educational screenings. Example: Listing for the documentary 13th with grant of permission for educational screenings.
- And Then They Came For Us (2017) – Seventy-eight years ago, Executive Order 9066 paved the way to the profound violation of constitutional rights that resulted in the forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. Host a screening and download the study guide.
- I am Not Your Negro (2016) – Teaching Guide from Argument-Centered Education
- John Lewis: Get in the Way (2017) – Teaching Resources from PBS
- Just Mercy (2019) – Discussion Guide from the Equal Justice Initiative
- Teach Us All (2017) – Filmmaker’s Statement: “Teach Us All is organized around three central themes: the critical role of teachers in shaping the lives of young people; the urgent need for community engagement to ensure the success of schools; and the power of students themselves, who must now take up the mantle from the Little Rock Nine and fight for the quality, equitable educational system they deserve and that has yet to be realized. But ultimately, this affects all of us, and can only be solved in collaboration.” -Sonia Lowman
- TED Talks on Race – Includes How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them
- The 1992 L.A. Riots and Civil Unrest | Asian Americans – (2020) – On April 29, 1992, a week-long period of rioting and chaos swept through South Central, Koreatown, and other neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California. The initial unrest was sparked by the acquittal of four white police officers responsible for the beating of Rodney King, a Black man arrested for driving under the influence. The events were preceded by a long history of police brutality in Los Angeles’ Black communities. This 5 minute clip on the LA Riots is from the PBS Documentary Series: Asian Americans, episode 5: Breaking Through (51 minutes). The 51 minute episode is not available to be shared but Educators can create an account and watch it on the PBS website. Supporting materials are also found on the link.
- True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (2019) – HBO and online. Community screenings are available. Contact Emily Keating for licensing and permission information: See also the available Community Engagement Guide for True Justice.
- 13 Documentaries On Mental Health That You Can Stream Right Now (Bustle December 2018) – For some people, the holiday season can be difficult. The end of the year can exacerbate certain life stressors and uncover emotions we haven’t let ourselves fully experience throughout the year.
- Angst (2017) – Anxiety Disorders are Real, Common and Treatable… Let’s Talk About it. Screening request and resources.
- Bedlam: A Documentary (2019) – Through intimate stories of patients, families, and medical providers, BEDLAM is a feature-length documentary that immerses us in the national crisis surrounding care of the severely mentally ill. Screening request and resources.
- Gather (2020) – See screening request and resources developed in collaboration with First Nations Development Institute. Links to Sustainability topic.
- Kids in Crisis: You’re Not Alone (2020) – 30-minute documentary produced by Milwaukee PBS and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, follows four young people from Wisconsin who are navigating mental health challenges. View Toolkit for additional resources.
- The Mask You Live In – A Film From The Representation Project (2015) – The Mask You Live In follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. Screening request.
- 2040 (2019) – Award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream. Host a screening or scroll down the home page to find recorded Q&A panels.
- Chasing Coral (2017) – Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. See screening request, action guide, and discussion guide. See Netflix.
- Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014) – As eye-opening as “Blackfish” and as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth”. A new cut from executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio now exclusively streaming on Netflix. See Screening license for information on how to view this film.
- Cultural Fire on the Mountain: An Introduction to Native Cultural Burning (2016) – Jared Dahl Aldern Ph.D., an environmental historian who has worked in academia, K-12 education, and tribal government, collaborated with and learned from Indigenous people throughout California. Co-produced by KCETLink and the Autry Museum of the American West, the Tending the Wild series is presented in association with the Autry’s groundbreaking California Continued exhibition. For permission to use, email Permissions@pmgsocal.org.
- David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (2020) – See screening request with resources. Options to take action through art or at the workplace.
- District 15 – Patagonia (2020) – Communities for a Better Environment does critical work on environmental justice and empowers Californian communities to stand up to polluting industries and build a green energy future.
- screening request and resources. (2014) – Just Eat It is a 74-minute documentary film about food waste and food rescue by Peg Leg Films in partnership with British Columbia’s Knowledge Network. See
- Kiss the Ground (2020) – See screening request with resources and Take Action resources. Book also available.
- Patagonia YouTube – Patagonia’s Community tab on their YouTube channel has a lot of conservation and some activist related docs and short videos including Public Trust (about the fight to protect public lands, a lot of it which is indigenous land).
- Public Trust Feature Film | The Fight for America’s Public Lands (2017) – A Film about the Fight for America’s Public Lands, from Executive Producers Robert Redford & Yvon Chouinard
- The Sacrifice Zone (2020) – The Ironbound in Newark, New Jersey, is one of the most toxic neighborhoods in America. For too long, the Ironbound has been deemed a Sacrifice Zone, a place where profits mattered more than the health and well-being of people – Black and Brown people. This film seeks to track the history of the United States environmental justice movement across time and space. See screening information.
- TED Talks on Sustainability and Climate Change
- The Story of Plastic (2020) – See community screening request and Take Action resources.
- The West is Burning (2021) – See screening options
- What the Health (2017) – What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it. See Host A Screening for information on how to view this film.
- Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests and the Future (2018) – California based filmmakers. See screening request and Take Action resources. See the California Wildfires Story Project collaboration with Story Center. Excellent background materials for panel discussions; possible state-wide event collaborator with links to CalFire, Yurok tribe, community partners. Access on Kanopy.