Human Rights & Activism Documentaries

by stefanbackes | created - 05 Apr 2013 | updated - 27 Mar 2015 | Public

Documentaries portraying peoples fight and activities involved in promoting human rights and freedoms against political, corporate and other power structures that inhibit or forbid them.

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1. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

R | 91 min | Documentary

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
81 Metascore

A documentary that chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government.

Director: Alison Klayman | Stars: Ai Weiwei, Dan Ai, Lao Ai, Lee Ambrozy

Votes: 3,740 | Gross: $0.49M

2. The Corporation (2003)

Unrated | 145 min | Documentary, History

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
73 Metascore

Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

Directors: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott | Stars: Mikela Jay, Rob Beckwermert, Christopher Gora, Nina Jones

Votes: 18,980 | Gross: $1.88M

3. Food, Inc. (2008)

PG | 94 min | Documentary

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
80 Metascore

An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

Director: Robert Kenner | Stars: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Richard Lobb, Vince Edwards

Votes: 45,801 | Gross: $4.42M

4. Shut Up & Sing (2006)

R | 93 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
77 Metascore

A documentary on the Dixie Chicks in the wake of singer Natalie Maines' anti-George W. Bush statement at a 2003 concert.

Directors: Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck | Stars: Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire, Clayton Allen

Votes: 4,558 | Gross: $1.22M

5. Sir! No Sir! (2005)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
74 Metascore

This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion. It speaks ... See full summary »

Director: David Zeiger | Stars: Michael Alaimo, Edward Asner, Joe Bangert, Tom Bernard

Votes: 604 | Gross: $0.11M

6. The Tillman Story (2010)

R | 94 min | Documentary, Biography, Mystery

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
86 Metascore

Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn't done for any reason other than he felt it was the ... See full summary »

Director: Amir Bar-Lev | Stars: Pat Tillman, Josh Brolin, Mary Tillman, Russell Baer

Votes: 4,157 | Gross: $0.80M

7. Votergate (2004)

PG-13 | 85 min | Documentary

7.9
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Add a Plot

Director: Ole Schell | Stars: Jeremy Manning, Ole Schell

Votes: 19

8. South of the Border (2009)

Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary

7.1
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45 Metascore

A road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media's misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Tariq Ali, Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Hugo Chávez

Votes: 2,614 | Gross: $0.17M

9. The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)

87 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
71 Metascore

Troublemaking duo Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, posing as their industrious alter-egos, expose the people profiting from Hurricane Katrina, the faces behind the environmental disaster in Bhopal, and other shocking events.

Directors: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Kurt Engfehr | Stars: Reggie Watts, Mike Bonanno, Andy Bichlbaum, Richard Ebeling

Votes: 4,744 | Gross: $0.19M

10. Afghan Star (2009)

Unrated | 87 min | Documentary, Music

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
78 Metascore

A look at how contestants on the a musical contest program "Pop Idol" in Afghanistan risk their lives to appear on the show.

Director: Havana Marking | Stars: Habib Amiri, Setara Hussainzada, Rafi Naabzada, Lima Sahar

Votes: 886 | Gross: $0.10M

11. McLibel (2005)

85 min | Documentary

7.7
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81 Metascore

McLibel is the story of two ordinary people who humiliated McDonald's in the biggest corporate PR disaster in history.

Directors: Ken Loach, Franny Armstrong | Stars: Helen Steel, Dave Morris, Bruce Alexander, Anita Anand

Votes: 1,988 | Gross: $0.00M

12. Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2003)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary

8.1
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49 Metascore

A documentary analyzing the role of the modern American media and its effects on democracy.

Director: Robert Kane Pappas | Stars: Charles Lewis, Robert McChesney, Mark Crispin Miller, Bernie Sanders

Votes: 1,078 | Gross: $0.02M

13. Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004)

Unrated | 78 min | Documentary

7.6
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58 Metascore

Documentary on reported Conservative bias of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel (FNC), which promotes itself as "Fair and Balanced". Material includes interviews with former FNC employees and the inter-office memos they provided.

Director: Robert Greenwald | Stars: Douglas Cheek, Walter Cronkite, Roger Ailes, Eric Alterman

Votes: 5,933 | Gross: $0.24M

14. Before Stonewall (1984)

Unrated | 87 min | Documentary, History

7.7
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The history of the Gay and Lesbian community before the Stonewall riots began the major gay rights movement.

Directors: Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg | Stars: Rita Mae Brown, Maua Adele Ajanaku, Red Jordan Arobateau, Ann Bannon

Votes: 591

15. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)

R | 106 min | Documentary, Crime, War

7.6
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82 Metascore

Alex Gibney exposes the haunting details of the USA's torture and interrogation practices during the War in Afghanistan.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg, Christopher Beiring

Votes: 12,428 | Gross: $0.27M

16. The Cove (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Crime

8.5
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84 Metascore

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

Director: Louie Psihoyos | Stars: Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones, Michael Illiff

Votes: 43,053 | Gross: $0.86M

17. The New Rulers of the World (2001 TV Movie)

65 min | Documentary

7.7
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The myths of globalisation have been incorporated into much of our everyday language. "Thinking globally" and "the global economy" are part of a jargon that assumes we are all part of one ... See full summary »

Directors: Alan Lowery, John Pilger | Stars: Pramoedya Ananta Toer, George Monbiot, Dita Sari

Votes: 197

18. Surplus: Terrorized Into Being Consumers (2003)

54 min | Documentary

7.1
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Looks at the arguments for capitalism and technology, such as greater efficiency, more time and less work, and argues that these are not being fulfilled, and they never will be.

Director: Erik Gandini | Stars: John Zerzan, George W. Bush, Fidel Castro, Kalle Lasn

Votes: 1,363

19. The End of America (2008)

Documentary

7.5
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"The End of America" details the ten steps a country takes when it slides toward fascism. It's not a "lefty" taught-to-me, but rather a historical look at trends in once-functioning ... See full summary »

Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg | Stars: David Antoon, Vincent Cannistraro, James Cullen, Amy Goodman

Votes: 749

20. The War You Don't See (2010)

97 min | Documentary, War

8.5
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Thought-provoking documentary on war propaganda: how governments manipulate the facts and how most media let them get away with it.

Directors: Alan Lowery, John Pilger | Stars: Julian Assange, Tony Blair, Wilfred Burchett, George W. Bush

Votes: 969

21. Bananas!* (2009)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama

7.0
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Juan "Accidentes" Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility.

Director: Fredrik Gertten | Stars: Byron Rosales Romero, Juan J. Dominguez, Duane Miller, Rick McKnight

Votes: 805

22. We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

7.3
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66 Metascore

A documentary on the workings and beliefs of the self-described "hacktivist" collective, Anonymous.

Director: Brian Knappenberger | Stars: Anon2World, Anonyops, Julian Assange, Aaron Barr

Votes: 8,863

23. Four Horsemen (2012)

Not Rated | 97 min | Documentary, News

7.8
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The modern day Four Horsemen continue to ride roughshod over the people who can least afford it. Crises are converging when governments, religion and mainstream economists have stalled. 23 ... See full summary »

Director: Ross Ashcroft | Stars: Dominic Frisby, Gillian Tett, Lawrence Wilkerson, David Morgan

Votes: 2,322

24. Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (2008)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary, History, News

8.0
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82 Metascore

Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks.

Director: Anders Østergaard | Stars: George W. Bush, Ko Muang, Aung San Suu Kyi

Votes: 2,190 | Gross: $0.05M

25. Waste Land (2010)

Not Rated | 99 min | Documentary

7.9
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78 Metascore

On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.

Directors: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim | Star: Vik Muniz

Votes: 7,705 | Gross: $0.19M

26. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)

92 min | Documentary

7.8
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75 Metascore

"The Most Dangerous Man in America" is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of ... See full summary »

Directors: Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith | Stars: Peter Arnett, Ben Bagdikian, Ann Beeson, John Dean

Votes: 2,038 | Gross: $0.45M

27. TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard (2013)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

7.6
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An intellectual freedoms documentary based around the interpersonal triumphs, and defeats of the three main characters against the largest industry in the known universe. The media industry.

Director: Simon Klose | Stars: Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Peter Althin

Votes: 12,694

28. Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (2011)

90 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

7.6
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54 Metascore

Dole Food Company wages a campaign to prevent a pair of Swedish film-makers from showing their documentary about a lawsuit against the company.

Director: Fredrik Gertten | Stars: Fredrik Gertten, Alex Rivera, Alfonso Allende, Arvid Jurjaks

Votes: 847

29. An Unreasonable Man (2006)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary, Biography

7.9
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75 Metascore

A look at the career of consumer advocate Ralph Nader from wannabe presidential candidate to public pariah.

Directors: Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan | Stars: Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Howard Zinn, Eric Alterman

Votes: 1,581 | Gross: $0.18M

30. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

Unrated | 74 min | Documentary

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
81 Metascore

In April 2002, an Irish film crew is making a documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, when a coup from the opposition is made.

Directors: Kim Bartley, Donnacha O'Briain | Stars: Hugo Chávez, Pedro Carmona, Jesse Helms, Colin Powell

Votes: 2,192

31. The Invisible War (2012)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Crime

7.6
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75 Metascore

An investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military.

Director: Kirby Dick | Stars: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Kori Cioca, Jessica Hinves

Votes: 6,154 | Gross: $0.07M

32. Jimmy Carter Man from Plains (2007)

PG | 125 min | Documentary, Biography, History

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
58 Metascore

A chronicle of the former president's tour recent for his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, Lillian Carter, Elizabeth Hayes

Votes: 777 | Gross: $0.11M

33. GasLand (2010)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary

7.7
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An exploration of the fracking petroleum extraction industry and the serious environmental consequences involved.

Director: Josh Fox | Stars: Josh Fox, Dick Cheney, Pete Seeger, Richard Nixon

Votes: 9,737 | Gross: $0.03M

34. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013)

R | 130 min | Documentary

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
76 Metascore

A documentary that details the creation of Julian Assange's controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history.

Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: Julian Assange, Adrian Lamo, John 'FuzzFace' McMahon, Alex Gibney

Votes: 6,794 | Gross: $0.16M

35. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History

7.5
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73 Metascore

Footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States is edited together by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker.

Director: Göran Olsson | Stars: Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Abiodun Oyewole

Votes: 1,563 | Gross: $0.26M

36. Hot Coffee (2011)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

7.6
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How the infamous McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit and similar cases were exploited as part of a right wing crusade to weaken civil justice.

Director: Susan Saladoff | Stars: Chuck Allen, Judy Allen, Jay Angoff, David Arredondo

Votes: 3,397

37. Miss Representation (2011)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

7.7
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Explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.

Directors: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Kimberlee Acquaro | Stars: Pat Mitchell, Jackson Katz, Jim Steyer, Marissa Mayer

Votes: 3,000

38. Blackfish (2013)

PG-13 | 83 min | Documentary, Drama

8.1
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83 Metascore

A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite | Stars: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg, Dean Gomersall

Votes: 51,937 | Gross: $2.06M

39. Flow: For Love of Water (2008)

93 min | Documentary

7.7
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67 Metascore

Water is the very essence of life, sustaining every being on the planet. 'Flow' confronts the disturbing reality that our crucial resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause.

Director: Irena Salina | Stars: Bill Alexander, Maude Barlow, Basil Bold, Shelly Brime

Votes: 1,046 | Gross: $0.14M

40. Informant (I) (2012)

Unrated | 81 min | Documentary

6.1
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70 Metascore

A documentary on radical left-wing activist turned FBI informant, Brandon Darby.

Director: Jamie Meltzer | Stars: Brandon Darby, Scott Crow, Lisa Fithian, Caroline Heldman

Votes: 296

41. Mediastan (2013)

Not Rated | 94 min | Documentary

7.9
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On the road with Wikileaks.

Director: Johannes Wahlström | Stars: Julian Assange, Vladimir Gubanov, Sultanbek Joumagulov, Bill Keller

Votes: 373

42. Citizenfour (2014)

R | 114 min | Documentary, Biography

8.1
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88 Metascore

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

Director: Laura Poitras | Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum

Votes: 44,391 | Gross: $2.80M