There are many inspiring and thought-provoking movies about global health that highlight the very real crises faced today. The following movies about global health explore some of the most dire issues, including women’s health, AIDS, polio, the right to safe drinking water and the realities of providing medical treatment in conflict situations.

  1. Blue Gold. Water shortages are a very real concern. Access to clean drinking water is also a dire problem in many parts of the world, and the demand for water only increases as the world’s population increases. Blue Gold considers the ramifications of this as corporations, governments and militaries try to control the water supply and people fight back for the right to clean water.
  2. A Closer Walk. The film examines the devastation wrought by AIDS throughout the world. A Closer Walk is narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, it explores the effects of AIDS in different regions, and what it means to live with and to fight against AIDS.
  3. Grace Under Fire. This is a notable film addressing the health issues women face globally, particularly in conflict areas. Grace Under Fire focuses on the regional conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where half  a million women are reported to have been raped. Dr. Grace Kodindo, an advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights, is followed throughout this film as she talks to both medical professionals and regular people about the access to care for women in the DRC.
  4. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders. Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, gave film crews permission for the first time in this documentary to film the doctors as they work in conflict areas. Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders provides an intense look at what it is like to provide medical care in emergency situations where violence is always a threat.
  5. Last Child: The Global Race to End Polio. Although polio has long been eradicated in developed countries, the fight continues in countries such as India, Nigeria and Haiti. Last Child: The Global Race to End Polio highlights the significant strides that have been made thus far. It also addresses the obstacles health workers have faced in eradicating polio, raising the question of whether the disease could spread again.

Each of these movies about global health provides a thought-provoking look at one of the major health crises affecting our planet today.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr

During a 2011 revolution in Egypt, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim set out to document the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Armed with cameras, the people of Egypt took to the streets in protest.

The documentary follows six protesters that meet Noujaim in the Tahrir Square tent city. The main characters are Khalid Abdalla, the British-Egyptian star of “The Kite Runner,” Magdy Ashour (a hesitant Muslim Brotherhood member,) Ahmed Hassan (the star activist,) Ramy Essam (the singer-songwriter of the revolution,) Aida El Kashef (a young filmmaker) and Ragia Omran (a human rights lawyer.)

The group sets out to capture the injustices of the regime and the following military dictatorship. The film is wrought with brutal scenes of torture and police brutality.

Magdy is tortured, Ahmed is shot and many of their friends are killed. Originally, the film ended with the overthrow of Mubarak’s regime and military rule, but as discontent with the election brought people back into the square, Noujaim returned to Egypt to continue shooting.

After the overthrow of the regime, Muslim Brothers, secularists, leftists and Coptic Christians, who once joined hands on the front lines, turned on each other.

Magdy is left conflicted, as he finds his organization firing upon his friends from the square. Discontent with President Mohamed Morsi’s policies, the people of Egypt took to the streets in the largest public demonstration on record—20 million people.

The film ends with Mori stepping down. People seem hopeful for the future of Egypt. They know the people of Egypt are a powerful force, capable of taking down dictators and unjust regimes. However, no clear leadership has emerged that unites the many sectors of Egypt’s population.  It is unclear how the Egyptian Revolution will end.

Noujaim’s film is a standout for best documentary of 2014. It is powerful, moving and gives a face to the headlines coming out of Egypt.

– Stephanie Lamm

Sources: The Square Film, IMDB
Photo: Ramesh Srinivasan