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Films about nonviolence

Background and further resources

The table below lists over 150 documentary and feature films from around the world that deal with nonviolent action. It is sortable by title, year, length, genre, and country/region portrayed. Where available, it includes links to publicly available full versions of the film.

Turn on full-page display by clicking on the ⧉ symbol in the bottom right-hand corner of the table. Alternatively, scroll up/down and left/right directly in this table. Or simply download the file. The latest changes can take some time to display in the online view. If you think you have found an error, please download the file and double-check the offline version before writing to me.

If a title includes a hyperlink, clicking on it will take you to a publicly available full version (sometimes behind a paywall, though the fees for one-time viewing are often modest). If the film was not originally released in English, the title in the original language is indicated in brackets. For the Russian version of this list, click on “Русский” in the left sidebar.

I also maintain an IMDb list of films about nonviolence, but it is less comprehensive than the one below since some of the documentaries listed here (those marked in yellow) are not included in IMDb.

Background and further resources

I initially compiled a list of films about nonviolent resistance in preparation for a workshop about the history, theory, and practice of nonviolence that I organized as part of the Berlin Colloquia on Contemporary History in February 2012. Since then I have updated the table once a year or so to incorporate new films I come across as well as suggestions from scholars and activists, though of course the list remains very incomplete. I have watched most but not all of the films mentioned. Inclusion in the list does not constitute endorsement (some of these films are outstanding, while others are terrible), nor is it based on very strict criteria of what constitutes nonviolent acrtion. Corrections, additions, and suggestions for improvement are welcome. So is feedback on ways in which you are using the list.

Documentary filmmakers who have specialized in nonviolence and related topics include Julia Bacha, Alan Channer, Imad Karam, Robbie Leppzer, Álvaro Orús Andreu, and the now retired Steve York and Miriam Zimmerman. Margaret Olin’s blog Touching Photographs, with frequent contributions from David Shulman, documents attempts to protect shepherds and farmers in the South Hebron Hills and other parts of the occupied Palestinian territories and occasionally links to videos.

I know of several particularly relevant film festivals.

The most important among these is the Active Nonviolence International Film Festival (ANIFF or, in Spanish, FICNOVA – Festival Internacional de Cine de la No-violencia Activa), which takes place across multiple sites in Spain and in the Americas, from Chile to Canada. Held since 2013, it specializes in films about nonviolence. Its website features its own list of about 100 films that have received awards at the festival or made it into the final selection, and links to publicly available free versions of over half of those films, many of them short or medium length ones that can easily be used in teaching. That list complements my own table very well, since there is very little overlap. The festival also has a video library of films that are presented in greater detail and have been licensed for free projection in non-profit settings.  Most of the information on the site is in Spanish, but the lists should be easy to navigate even if you don’t read Spanish: clicking on the visionado symbol in a film description will take you to the film, which will sometimes be in English or have English subtitles.

The fledgling U.S.-based NonViolenceFilmFest has a similar approach of helping to organize screenings in different locations, with a selection that currently encompasses five films.
The Annual Nonviolence Film Festival has been organized since 2010 by the Peace Studies program at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia.
The Tromsø International Film Festival awards an annual Norwegian Peace Film Award. In the United States, the Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago and the Global Peace Film Festival in Orlando, Florida, include nonviolence among their major topics. Both the online Global Nonviolent Film Festival and the Monaco International Film Festival screen only films that do not depict gratuitous violence. The 40 or so festivals joined together in the Human Rights Film Network are also worth a look. So are the lineups of documentaries shown at the Association for the Study of Nationalities annual convention in New York, even though only some of them specifically touch upon nonviolence.

Among festivals that are now defunct, the Non Violence International Film Festival in Canada specialized in non-violence, and the 7 Islands International Film Festival for World Peace in Mumbai screened films on various aspects of violence and non-violence. In 2003, the theme of the inaugural instalment of the (now discontinued) Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival was “Peace, Harmony, Non-Violence and Non-Discrimination.”

Concord Media in Ipswich, UK, provides a large library of educational DVDs on social issues and has a separate catalog of films on nonviolence and associated themes. Laika Verlag, based in Hamburg, Germany, publishes an ongoing Library of Resistance that includes DVDs with (mostly documentary) films about various kinds of left-wing resistance movements. See this page for trailers, and the series catalog for descriptions of individual films.