Top human rights films

We put together a list for amazing, heartwarming movies that carry a message of compassion and tolerance, and aim to teach how to be generous, kind, altruistic and humane.
Here are the top 10 humanitarian films you should watch.

By Mariam Elhamy

Machine Gun Preacher

Machine Gun Preacher is a compelling, first-person account by Sam Childers. Detailing his battle to help the orphan children of Eastern Africa. He goes on a spiritual journey and vows to save the dying kids. A must watch by Gerard Butler.

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing tale that surrounds the life of a child soldier named Agu. Agu is a young boy who has been forced to fight in a war in a fictional West African country. Agu’s youth is ruined by both his fear of his commander and the men he fights alongside. This film unapologetically shows the different mechanics and components of war and makes no attempt to hide the explicit, gruesome details to paint an intricate, and at times, hard to watch picture of the life of a child soldier.


Set just over ten years after the end of racial segregation in America, Selma is an Oscar-winning film. D. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery. This brave yet dangerous campaign against the racist, violent opposition that aimed to trample equal voting rights for all led to president Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Hooligan Sparrow

Ye Haiyan, known as Sparrow, traveled to the Hainan Province in China to seek justice for elementary school girls who were abused sexually by their principal. As she faced harassment, state surveillance and even possible imprisonment, still, she persisted. Chased from town to town by the national secret police and local governments, this moving story follows Sparrow on her tireless quest for justice.

Hotel Rwanda

Set during the Rwandan crisis, Hotel Rwanda is the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina who took in more than one thousand Tutsi refugees. These refugees were fleeing from the Rwandan Hutu militia, the group responsible for the brutal murders of over one million people in the country. While the rest of the world was either kept in the dark on the matter or chose to turn the other cheek, the brave and determined hotelier invoked great courage to help save the lives of helpless refugees.


Nawal (Lubna Azabal), a dying Middle Eastern woman living in Montreal, leaves separate letters to her twin children to be read once she passes away. Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) is to deliver hers to the father the twins never knew, and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) is to give his to the brother they never knew they had. The siblings travel to the Middle East separately, where they each experience acts of brutality, uncover a startling family history and have revelations about themselves.

I am Slave

Malia, a 12-year-old girl from the Nuba Mountains, is snatched from the arms of her father during a Muharaleen raid on their village. Sold into slavery, she spends the next six years of her life working for a Sudanese family. Then, aged 18, she is sent to London where the brutality and inhumanity that she experiences continues, only under a different roof.


Single father Uxbal finds out that he is suffering from a terminal disease. As he struggles to secure his children’s future, he must also come to terms with the guilt of his occupation.


This award-winning Pakistani film tells the tale of a mother who risks death to prevent the arranged marriage of her 10-year-old daughter to a warlord old enough to be her grandfather. Dukhtar (which translates to Daughter) explores the world of child brides and honor killings, where women have few rights and remain the property of men.

Tears of the Sun

When Nigeria collapses and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator. Navy SEAL Lieutenant A.K. Waters and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are forced to choose between their duty and their humanity, between following orders by ignoring the conflict that surrounds them or finding the courage to follow their conscience and protect a group of innocent refugees.

He Named Me Malala

We have to also mention He Named Me Malala which is a great documentary film after the book I Am Malala. After the Taliban tries to kill her for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai emerges as a leading advocate for children’s rights and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

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