Contemporary Voices: Films for Global Education (Ages 14+)

Contemporary Voices: Films for Global Education (Ages 14+)

This playlist was created to help educators at the secondary level to integrate documentary films about various global issues into their curriculum across several subject areas. It has been developed to suit the curricula of provinces and territories throughout Canada. The films and interactive projects were selected to represent a variety of global issues that fall into seven broad categories, including Environmental Conservation & Sustainability, Human Rights, Social Justice & Globalization, War, Conflict & Peace, and International Development Issues.

Education for global citizenship encourages youth to develop empathy for others living across the planet and to realize we all share our environment. When educators raise awareness of the issues and mobilize students to take action, this helps our youth develop a consciousness of our interconnectedness and interdependence. By teaching global citizenship, we provide students with the skills to participate in ensuring their own and our collective well-being. Introducing international issues in the classroom empowers students and helps to motivate them to contribute positively to a society that values human rights, justice, peace, global solidarity, environmental sustainability and global health.

Documentaries expose us to different realities, confront our concepts of truth and play a profound role in shaping our understanding of the world today and the world we want for tomorrow. By watching and analyzing documentaries, students learn about their own roles as global citizens and discover the key factors behind global challenges.

We encourage educators to use this playlist and in the films on the NFB Global Issues Film List, to enhance classroom learning. The CONTEMPORARY VOICES: Global Issues Educator's Guide offers discussion questions that encourage students to probe the global challenges presented in the films and to explore solutions and courses of action. There is also a section addressing media literacy within the context of global issues. It has been designed to help students analyze a medium, such as film, its message, its audience, certain production elements and its potential impact. A curriculum matrix will help educators to identify the curricula in each province and territory related to the issues covered on the Global Issues playlist and in the Global Issues Film List.

Teachers and students who would like to further explore specific global issues can learn more from the resources section at the end of the guide.

Create your own chapters and playlists with the films featured on the Global Issues playlist and customize classroom learning. Subscribing to CAMPUS allows you to use the chaptering tool to select a specific part of a film that is the most pertinent for your purposes. Use the chaptering tool to easily select a specific sequence of a full-length film, add it to your own playlist, write lesson notes and questions, and then screen the playlist for your students. Find out more by reading about the chaptering tool here.


CONTEMPORARY VOICES: Global Issues Educator's Guide
Global Issues Film List

  • Tiger Spirit
    2008|52 min

    This full-length documentary tells the story of modern Korea, a nation divided in half. The psychic scar shared by families divided during the Korean War in the 1950s is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Along this infamous border, filmmaker Min Sook Lee begins an emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. An eloquent tale of longing and hope, Tiger Spirit is an unforgettable portrait of Korea at a crossroads.

  • Earth to Mouth
    2002|41 min

    Filmed at the Wing Fong Farm in Ontario, this documentary follows the tilling, planting and harvesting of Asian vegetables destined for Chinese markets and restaurants. On 80 acres of land, Lau King-Fai, her son and a half-dozen migrant Mexican workers care for the plants. For Yeung Kwan, her son, the farm represents personal and financial independence. For his mother, it is an oasis of peace. For the Mexican workers, it provides jobs that help support their children back home.

  • Grace, Milly, Lucy... Child Soldiers
    2010|1 h 13 min

    This feature documentary exposes the little-known tragedy of girl soldiers in Uganda. How can they learn to live normal lives again after being abducted and trained to become killing machines? Clinging to their dreams, Grace, Milly and Lucy are trying to restore meaning to their lives and break the silence surrounding the fate of a sacrificed generation.

  • Unarmed Verses
    2016|1 h 25 min

    This feature documentary presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation. At the centre of the story is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Unarmed Verses is a cinematic rendering of our universal need for self-expression and belonging.

  • The Coca-Cola Case
    2009|1 h 25 min

    Colombia is the trade union murder capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers’ leaders have been brutally killed, usually by paramilitaries hired by private companies intent on crushing the unions. Among these unscrupulous corporate brands is the poster boy for American business: Coca-Cola.

    These unpunished crimes spur U.S. activists David Kovalik, Terry Collingsworth and Ray Rogers into an ambitious crusade against the soft drink giant. A searing indictment of a major corporate brand, The Coca-Cola Case takes us on a riveting legal game of cat and mouse via the U.S. federal court and the Stop Killer Coke! campaign.

    After five years of struggle, will Coca-Cola yield in the end? And on the verge of a settlement, what will the victims choose ? cash, or power and integrity?

  • Hi-Ho Mistahey!
    2013|1 h 39 min

    In this feature-length documentary, Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education in safe and suitable schools for First Nations children. Strong participation in this initiative eventually brings Shannen's Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.

  • Island Green
    2013|25 min

    This short documentary takes a look at the changing face of PEI's agricultural industry. Once famous for its spuds and red mud, this tiny island province now has higher than average cancer and respiratory illness rates. Is there a link to industrialized farming? Rather than dwelling on PEI’s worrisome monocropping practices, Island Green dares to ask: What if PEI went entirely organic?

    The stirring words of PEI-born poet Tanya Davis are coupled with beautiful imagery and poignant stories from the island’s small but growing community of organic farmers, reminding us that we can rob the land only so much before it robs us of the nourishment we need for life. Island Green is ultimately a story of hope and healthy promise.

  • Pipelines, Power and Democracy
    2015|1 h 28 min

    Pipelines, Power and Democracy is a striking documentary that follows the mobilization of ordinary people to thwart the ambitions of oil companies and halt, even if only temporarily, the advance of pipelines across Quebec. In the process, the film offers a sharp reminder that power can be accessible to all.

  • Avenue Zero
    campus 2009 | 52 min

    Human trafficking is a reality: Asian girls are enslaved in suburban massage parlors; domestic workers toil like slaves in suburban homes; girls in a Montreal subway station are lured into prostitution; Vancouver gangs recruit Honduran boys to sell drugs. Featuring candid interviews with victims, witnesses and perpetrators, Avenue Zero weaves a spellbinding portrait of a dark and sinister trade flourishing in the shadows of the law.

  • From Arusha to Arusha
    2008|1 h 54 min

    From Arusha to Arusha focuses on the Rwandan tragedy in order to examine the functioning of the international justice system. It examines both the activities of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is prosecuting those responsible for the genocide, as well as those of the gacaca courts, the people’s tribunals, which are working towards justice through reconciliation.

    By juxtaposing archival audiovisual footage of an international court enacting justice behind closed doors, with images and testimony gathered in the field, the film presents conflicting points of view and invites the Rwandan people to re-appropriate their own history.

    Christophe Gargot has his roots in the rich documentary tradition of such filmmakers as Raymond Depardon, people who are interested in focussing on the rituals of large institutions. This film examines the issue of universal moral values in action while at the same time questioning our relationship with the images we take in and our responsibilities as world citizens.

  • The Apology
    campus 2016 | 1 h 44 min

    The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations', the three “grandmothers”– Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.

  • The Wanted 18
    campus 2014 | 1 h 15 min

    This feature film incorporates live action footage with animation to tell the curious story of 18 cows. Acquired by a Palestinian community in the late 1980s, the cows were a symbol of freedom and resistance, providing milk for the Palestinian residents of Beit Sahour so that they would not rely on Israeli producers. Soon the illegal cows, cherished by the Palestinians, were being sought by the Israeli army as a threat to security. With humour and passion, this film captures the spirit of the 1987 uprising through the personal experiences of those who lived it.