Inspirational Stories: Movies

Pay it Forward (2000)

When 11½-year-old Trevor McKinney begins seventh grade in Las Vegas, Nevada, his social studies teacher Eugene Simonet gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “Pay it forward”, which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for a third party rather than paying the favor back.

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Gandhi (1982)

Biography of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ , the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British rule through his philosophy of non-violent protest.

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Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2008)

How does the simple act of planting trees lead to winning the Nobel Peace Prize? Ask Wangari Maathai of Kenya. In 1977, she suggested rural women plant trees to address problems stemming from a degraded environment. Under her leadership, their tree-planting grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, defend human rights and promote democracy, earning Maathai the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

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To Kill a Mockingbird (1960 Book; 1962 Movie)

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

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Patch Adams (1998)

Adams encourages medical students to cultivate relationships with nurses and learn their interviewing skills early, and argues that death should be treated with dignity and even humor.

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Schindler’s List (1993)

Oskar Schindler is a vain, glorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A testament for the good in all of us. Written by Harald Mayr

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Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Reggio’s debut as a film director and producer, is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.

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Baraka (1992)

Baraka is an ancient Sufi word, which can be translated as “a blessing, or as the breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds.”

The movie was filmed at 152 locations of 24 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Nepal, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. It contains no dialogue. Instead of a story or plot, the film uses themes to present new perspectives and evoke emotion purely through cinema. The film was the first in over twenty years to be photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format.

Fricke writes about his work: “I feel that my work has evolved through Koyaanisqatsi, Chronos and Baraka. Both technically and philosophically I am ready to delve even deeper into my favorite theme: humanity’s relationship to the eternal”

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March of the Penguins (2005)

March of the Penguins (French: La Marche de l’empereur) is a 2005 French nature documentary film. It was directed and co-written by Luc Jacquet, and co-produced by Bonne Pioche and the National Geographic Society. The film depicts the yearly journey of the emperor penguins of Antarctica. In autumn, all the penguins of breeding age (five years old and over) leave the ocean, their normal habitat, to walk inland to their ancestral breeding grounds. There, the penguins participate in a courtship that, if successful, results in the hatching of a chick. For the chick to survive, both parents must make multiple arduous journeys between the ocean and the breeding grounds over the ensuing months.

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TED Talk: John Hunter on the World Peace Game  (2011)

John Hunter puts all the problems of the world on a 4’x5′ plywood board — and lets his 4th-graders solve them. At TED2011, he explains how his World Peace Game engages schoolkids, and why the complex lessons it teaches — spontaneous, and always surprising — go further than classroom lectures can.

Teacher and musician John Hunter is the inventor of the World Peace Game (and the star of the new doc “World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements”).

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