Inspirational Women's History Humanitarian Biopics

by urbanemovies | created - 13 Mar 2017 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

Each March in the USA, we recognize female achievements during Women's History Month. Biographical movies are a great way to educate the public about landmark events in the struggle for gender equality. At the same time, these movies honor and celebrate each woman's achievement with the star power they deserve. Bios Source: Wikipedia.com

Which female humanitarian* who championed social change or justice inspires you the most, or alternatively their biopic? * Political Activist, Social or Human Rights Champions, Humanitarians, Whistle-Blowers, Rebels, Etc.

Woman's History Companion Polls Leader Biopics : Humanitarian Biopics : Trailblazer Biopics

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1. The Letters (II) (2014)

PG | 114 min | Drama

25 Metascore

A drama that explores the life of Mother Teresa through letters she wrote to her longtime friend and spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem over a nearly 50-year period.

Director: William Riead | Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Rutger Hauer, Max von Sydow, Priya Darshini

Votes: 799 | Gross: $1.65M

Mother Theresa: Religious Order Founder, the Saint and Nobel Peace Prize winner founded Missionaries of Charity. Her order with 4500 sisters serving in 133 countries touches millions of the world's poorest souls. Alternate Biopics: Madre Teresa (2003), Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor (1997)

2. Suffragette (2015)

PG-13 | 106 min | Biography, Drama, History

67 Metascore

In 1912 London, a young working mother is galvanized into radical political activism supporting the right for women to vote, and is willing to meet violence with violence to achieve this end.

Director: Sarah Gavron | Stars: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep

Votes: 30,955 | Gross: $4.69M

Emmeline Pankhurst and British Suffragettes: Political Activists, helped women win the right to vote in Britain and set in motion a shift in society that would change everything.

3. Dead Man Walking (1995)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director: Tim Robbins | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry

Votes: 79,202 | Gross: $39.39M

Helen Prejean: Roman Catholic Nun, a leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. She ministers to inmates on death row. She also founded Survive, an organization devoted to counseling the families of victims of violence.

4. The Blind Side (2009)

PG-13 | 129 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

53 Metascore

The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

Director: John Lee Hancock | Stars: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Jae Head

Votes: 250,990 | Gross: $255.96M

Leigh Anne Tuohy: Hero Mother, she showed making a big difference in the world can start by forever changing the course of one life.

5. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.

Director: Marc Rothemund | Stars: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held, Johanna Gastdorf

Votes: 24,082 | Gross: $0.68M

Sophie Scholl: Anti-Nazi Political Activist, a German national who stood up to Hitler and was executed for high treason. Her resistance group, the White Rose tried to stop the Nazis by exposing their atrocities to the German people and marshaling a movement of passive resistance.

6. Fair Game (I) (2010)

PG-13 | 108 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

69 Metascore

CIA operative Valerie Plame discovers her identity is allegedly leaked by the government as payback for an op-ed article her husband wrote criticizing the Bush administration.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Sonya Davison, Vanessa Chong

Votes: 41,752 | Gross: $9.53M

Valerie Plame: CIA Operative, a central figure in "Plamegate" scandal that would rock the White House. She and her husband uncovered hard evidence against the justification for the war in Iraq and bravely exposed it as the lie it was.

7. Erin Brockovich (2000)

R | 131 min | Biography, Drama

73 Metascore

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin, Dawn Didawick

Votes: 149,961 | Gross: $125.60M

Erin Brockovich: Environmental Activist, the legal clerk was instrumental in securing a record breaking legal judgment against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), despite no formal legal training.

8. Iron Jawed Angels (2004 TV Movie)

123 min | Biography, Drama, History

Defiant young activists take the women's suffrage movement by storm, putting their lives at risk to help American women win the right to vote.

Director: Katja von Garnier | Stars: Hilary Swank, Margo Martindale, Anjelica Huston, Frances O'Connor

Votes: 5,149

Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and American Suffragettes: Political Activists, helped women win the right to vote in America and set in motion a shift in society that would change everything. Alternate American Suffragettes Biopic: True Women (1997)

9. The Zookeeper's Wife (2017)

PG-13 | 127 min | Biography, Drama, History

57 Metascore

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

Director: Niki Caro | Stars: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl, Timothy Radford

Votes: 24,712 | Gross: $17.45M

Antonina Zabinski: Hero Author, she and her husband rescued, sheltered, fed and cared for hundreds of Jews in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Both were active members in the Polish underground during the war and helped undermine the Nazi's hold on Warsaw.

10. Silkwood (1983)

R | 131 min | Biography, Drama, History

64 Metascore

A worker at a plutonium processing plant is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher, Craig T. Nelson

Votes: 15,688 | Gross: $35.62M

Karen Silkwood:, Chemical Technician and Labor Activist, her activism and death highlighted the cover-up of poor corporate health and worker safety practices in the nuclear industry.

11. Neerja (2016)

122 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

Neerja is the story of the courageous Neerja Bhanot, who sacrificed her life while protecting the lives of 359 passengers on the Pan Am flight 73 in 1986. The flight was hijacked by a terrorist organization.

Director: Ram Madhvani | Stars: Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tikku, Abrar Zahoor

Votes: 16,169 | Gross: $1.54M

Neerja Bhanot: Hero Stewardess, her courage against terrorism helped save the lives of 359 passengers and posthumously earned her India's highest peacetime award for bravery.

12. The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 95 min | Biography, Drama, War

The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Director: John Kent Harrison | Stars: Anna Paquin, Marcia Gay Harden, Goran Visnjic, Nathaniel Parker

Votes: 3,294

Irene Sendler: Hero Nurse, she smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, saving them from the Holocaust. She saved more Jews than any other individual during the Holocaust, aside from a few diplomats who helped Jews flee Nazi-occupied Europe by issuing them exit visas.

13. The Whistleblower (2010)

R | 112 min | Action, Biography, Crime

59 Metascore

A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.

Director: Larysa Kondracki | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci, Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn

Votes: 27,976 | Gross: $1.12M

Kathryn Bolkovac: Police Detective, she uncovered sex trafficking as a UN contract official in Bosnia. When her efforts to stop it were subverted by her bosses, she exposed their corruption and complicity within the UN peace-keeping mission to the BBC.

14. Belle (2013)

PG | 100 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

64 Metascore

The mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle in 18th-century England.

Director: Amma Asante | Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 24,115 | Gross: $10.73M

Dido Elizabeth Belle: Human Rights Champion, her speculated influence on her great-uncle, the Lord Chief Justice of England led to favorable judgments in the Zong Massacre and Somersett trials. Both decisions are seen to set the stage for the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act and end of slavery in England.

15. The Miracle Worker (1962)

Not Rated | 106 min | Biography, Drama

The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke, Victor Jory, Inga Swenson

Votes: 13,744

Helen Keller or Anne Sullivan: Disability Activist or Miracle Worker, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA, plus leader, author and speaker in worker, women's and handicapped rights movements

16. Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story (1995 TV Movie)

92 min | Biography, Drama

Margaret Sanger, a nurse who, in 1914, became a pioneering crusader for women's reproductive rights after she published a booklet on birth control techniques that flew in the face of a law ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Shapiro | Stars: Dana Delany, Henry Czerny, Rod Steiger, Julie Khaner

Votes: 130

Margaret Sanger: Political Activist, her crusade to legalize birth control changed the game and spurred the movement for women's liberation.

17. Truth (2015)

R | 125 min | Biography, Drama, History

66 Metascore

Newsroom drama detailing the 2004 CBS 60 Minutes report investigating then-President George W. Bush's military service, and the subsequent firestorm of criticism that cost anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes their careers.

Director: James Vanderbilt | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss

Votes: 15,650 | Gross: $2.54M

Mary Mapes: News Producer, the Peabody Award winning CBS producer broke a number of important stories. None more important than the one that could change the course of US presidential election, a story she got right but nonetheless cost her job.

18. Loving (2016)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

79 Metascore

The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court's historic 1967 decision.

Director: Jeff Nichols | Stars: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Will Dalton, Dean Mumford

Votes: 24,691 | Gross: $7.70M

Mildred Loving: Wife, her landmark case, Loving v. Virginia and defiance brought down the South's anti-miscegenation laws that stood for a century, setting the precedent to do the same for same-sex marriage laws fifty years later.

19. Untitled Harriet Tubman Project

Biography, Drama, History | Announced

The life of Civil War-era activist Harriet Tubman, who worked to liberate slaves in the American South by developing an a secretive system that allowed them to escape to freedom.

Stars: Viola Davis, Mike Gassaway

Harriet Tubman: Abolitionist, an escaped slave herself, she was the leader of the Underground Railroad. She made some thirteen trips back to rescue some seventy slaves and help fifty others to freedom. Current Biopic: A Woman Called Moses (1978)

20. Woman in Gold (2015)

PG-13 | 109 min | Biography, Drama, History

51 Metascore

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

Director: Simon Curtis | Stars: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes

Votes: 44,631 | Gross: $33.31M

Maria Altmann: Holocaust Survivor, best known for her successful legal campaign to reclaim from the Austrian government five family-owned paintings by the artist Gustav Klimt stolen by the Nazis.

21. Desert Flower (2009)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama

54 Metascore

The autobiography of a Somalian nomad circumcised at 3, sold in marriage at 13, fled from Africa a while later to become finally an American supermodel and is now at the age of 38, the UN ... See full summary »

Director: Sherry Hormann | Stars: Soraya Omar-Scego, Idriss Abdillahi Houfaneh, Awa Saïd Darar, Roun Daher Aïnan

Votes: 10,414 | Gross: $0.04M

Waris Dirie: Fashion Model, abandoned her career to stop Female Genital Mutilation, a practice common in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She became it's leading spokesperson by starting the Desert Flower Foundation and a UN Special Ambassador. Her efforts to raise awareness have put the topic center stage around the world.

22. Veronica Guerin (2003)

R | 98 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

55 Metascore

An Irish journalist writes a series of stories about drug dealers.

Director: Joel Schumacher | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Ciarán Hinds

Votes: 17,381 | Gross: $1.57M

Veronica Guerin: Crime Reporter, she exposed Irish drug criminals, despite repeated threats to her life and family. She remained vigilante and undeterred, paying the ultimate price.

23. Denial (II) (2016)

PG-13 | 109 min | Biography, Drama

63 Metascore

Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel.

Director: Mick Jackson | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott

Votes: 13,479 | Gross: $4.07M

Deborah Lipstadt: Historian, she fought for justice, historical truth and to prevent the re-victimization of Holocaust survivors, when sued for libel for claiming the Holocaust was real.

24. The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated | 149 min | Drama

After leaving a wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft

Votes: 7,952 | Gross: $12.80M

Marie Louise Habets: Nurse, the nun nurses the poor and sick, first in a mental institution and later in Congo combating tropical diseases. Eventually, she leaves the order to combat greater injustice in the Belgian resistance and as a war nurse. (Sister Luke aka Gabrielle van der Mal)

25. The Rosa Parks Story (2002 TV Movie)

97 min | Biography, Drama

A seamstress recalls events leading to her act of peaceful defiance that prompted the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.

Director: Julie Dash | Stars: Angela Bassett, Peter Francis James, Tonea Stewart, Von Coulter

Votes: 626

Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Activist, Parks' act of defiance and the following Montgomery Bus Boycott became a watershed moment in and symbols of the freedom movement.

26. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)

Approved | 158 min | Biography, Drama, War

All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward knew that China was the place where she belonged. Not qualified to be sent there as a missionary, Gladys works as a domestic to earn the money to ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Ingrid Bergman, Robert Donat, Curd Jürgens, Michael David

Votes: 3,842

Gladys Aylward: Hero Missionary, she was devoted, at risk to her life, to her orphanage and missionary work. She led to safety over the mountains over 100 orphans and cared for them after when Japanese forces invaded China.

27. Pokazatelnyy protsess: Istoriya Pussy Riot (2013)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

72 Metascore

Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial in a case that has gripped the nation and the world ... See full summary »

Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin | Stars: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Andrey Tolokonnikov

Votes: 1,714

Pussy Riot: Punk Rock Band, the all-female band stages provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public places at great personal risk. Themes included feminism, LGBT rights, and defiance to oppressive government.

28. Freeheld (2015)

PG-13 | 103 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

50 Metascore

New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester, and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, both battle to secure Hester's pension benefits when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Director: Peter Sollett | Stars: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell, Michael Shannon

Votes: 9,567 | Gross: $0.53M

Stacie Andree & Laurel Hester: Police Detective, Hester's fight to secure pension benefits for her domestic partner was a key victory in the battle for equal rights within the LGBT movement. Alternative Biopic, Oscar Winning Documentary: Freeheld (2007)

29. Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

122 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

After years of political agitation, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and Leo Jogiches form a revolutionary German party, the Spartacists.

Director: Margarethe von Trotta | Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Daniel Olbrychski, Otto Sander, Adelheid Arndt

Votes: 934

Rosa Luxemburg: Anti-War Activist, founder of Spartacists political party that campaigned for democracy in Germany and opposed the ruling militaristic government in power. She was imprisoned as a political prisoner, but later vindicated and freed as Social Democrats took power. When the cause goes astray, she takes a stand and is executed as a result.

30. Conviction (II) (2010)

R | 107 min | Biography, Drama

61 Metascore

A working mother puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder and has exhausted his chances to appeal his conviction through public defenders.

Director: Tony Goldwyn | Stars: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Thomas D. Mahard

Votes: 38,193 | Gross: $6.78M

Betty Anne Waters: Lawyer, put herself through college and law school for the sole purpose of freeing her convicted brother. She worked tirelessly with the Innocence Project through an early use of DNA evidence to bring about his exoneration in 2001.