Poverty Awareness MoviesPoverty awareness movies help to shine a spotlight on the experiences of individuals in vulnerable places across the globe. They help to humanize the daily struggles that far too many people must live through. Keep reading to learn more about these four top poverty awareness movies.

4 Top Poverty Awareness Movies Everyone Should Watch

  1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) – “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a true story film based on a memoir by Malawian engineer William Kamkwamba. Kamkwamba’s life story speaks true to the reality of poverty in Malawi. During a 2002 drought, Kamwaba’s family farm was left barren and many were left without electricity and water. Without the proper materials available, Kamwba used scrap metal, tractor parts and bicycle halves in order to forge an operable windmill. Eventually, the windmill powered four light sources and a second machine was made to power a water pump used to battle the drought and famine. Overall, this story shows the strength of human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity.
  2. Queen of Katwe (2016) – Disney’s Queen of Katwe is a film based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young Ugandan girl who goes on to become an international chess champion despite facing numerous challenges. Mutesi and her family live in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. Life is a constant struggle for the family; Mutesi has almost no possessions, can’t read and sells maize on the street for change to support her family. Mutesi and her oldest brother Brian cross paths with a local sports ministry head named Robert Katende; from then on, Mutesi’s life is changed forever. Mutesi finds success and joy in a game that reflects her own life; a pawn makes it all the way across the board, against all odds, and becomes a Queen. In a variety of ways, “Queen of Katwe” brings light to the truth of poverty in Uganda; children are left without an education and often have to work to provide for their families.
  3. Shoplifters (2018) – “Shoplifters” tells the story of how an untraditional Japenese family sticks together through the struggles of poverty. Osamu and his wife Naboyu live in a small, cramped apartment with their son Shota, grandma Hatsue and aunt Aki. The family must take on unskilled jobs in order to make ends meet. Aki is a sex worker and grandma Hatsue collects a pension. In order to survive, Osamu and Shota shoplift most of their food and necessities. On one of their runs, Osamu and Shota come across a young girl named Yuri. The family takes her in and she begins to become accustomed to her new family’s way of life; this means no education and cramped sleeping conditions. This movie is successful at showing the life of a family in poverty without sugarcoating the situation or patronizing the people.
  4. Ma’ Rosa (2016) This movie tells the story of poverty and corruption through the eyes of Ma’ Rosa, who runs a small convenience store in Manila to support her four children. The profits from the shop aren’t enough to raise her family so Ma’ Rosa sells drugs on the side. The police eventually raid Ma’ Rosa’s house and find all of the drugs that she and her husband were planning to sell. The police try to persuade them into handing over their suppliers, along with a large private investment by making a promise of no jail time. “Ma’ Rosa” gives a deep look at how corrupt organizations take advantage of people living in poverty, which is a problem that runs throughout the capital city.

– Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty FilmsGlobal poverty is a worldwide issue that is still prevalent today. According to UNICEF, one billion children worldwide are living in poverty and 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. However, many people do not know the extent of global poverty and how big the issue really is. That is why films realistically showing global poverty are important to today’s society, as these films that can spread awareness about the issues being presented along with a compelling story. These are five top global poverty films that help shine a spotlight on social causes around the world.

Top 5 Global Poverty Films

  1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
    Set in India, Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old boy raised in the slums of Mumbai. The film depicted many hard to watch, yet realistic, scenes of poverty in India, including children being recruited to beg on the street for food, and children living in extreme poverty being forced into labor to survive. The film was widely acclaimed and became extremely popular; in 2009, it was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight of them, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also won seven BAFTA Awards, five Critics’ Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.
  2. Queen of Katwe (2016)
    Queen of Katwe is a film based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in a slum in Katwe. The movie follows her journey as she learns and begins to excel at chess, with the goal of lifting her family out of poverty. Queen of Katwe was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and ESPN films, receiving praise from critics as a realistic portrayal of poverty in Africa. In a review by Angela Watercutter for WIRED, she writes, “it is a very Disney movie in that it centers around a family and has a happy ending, but it is a very un-Disney story in that it unblinkingly examines the poverty, violence and racism its protagonists face every day.” It also had a high profile cast—starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga, which helped to raise even more awareness for poverty in Uganda.
  3. The First Grader (2010)
    The First Grader is based on a true story about Kimani Maruge, an 84-year-old Kenyan villager and farmer who enrolls in elementary school after the Kenyan government announced free universal primary education in 2003. The film shows a realistic depiction of rural and urban Kenya, as well as many issues that those living in extreme poverty in Kenya had to face both at that time and in the present, such as lack of access to schooling, being separated from family and having to suffer in work and prison camps at the hands of the British. The film raised a lot of awareness of how big the issue of lack of schooling and access to education is in Kenya and Africa. National Geographic described its impact as “a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.”
  4. Neria (1993)
    Neria, made in Zimbabwe’s golden age of “Zollywood,” is a story about a rural woman who becomes a widow, and loses her farm and livelihood. Neria became the most critically-acclaimed film of the decade and highest-grossing film of all time from Zimbabwe. Part of its popularity came from the fact Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural icon, Oliver Mtukudzi, made the soundtrack. This star power gained global attention, with major U.S. newspapers reporting about it, leading to much more awareness about global poverty and poverty in Africa.
  5. Girl Rising (2013)
    Girl Rising is a documentary-style film that follows the stories of nine girls from Haiti, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Peru, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan on their journey to education. The film highlighted issues surrounding girls’ educations around the world and promoted the organization Girl Rising, which works to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered. Girl Rising has partnered with Michelle Obama by producing the documentary special We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, which has become one of CNN’s highest-rated documentary specials.

These five films show how film can be an amazing medium for spreading messages and garnering worldwide attention. That is why films surrounding global poverty are so important, as they are able to raise awareness for a number of prevalent issues.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Creative Commons