Movies to remind you there’s hope in the fight for justice and equality.
Reprinted from Yes! Magazine under a Creative Commons License
In the days since his inauguration, Donald Trump has given women around the country—and the world—new motivation to fight for equality.
After the Women’s March ended, which was estimated to be the largest peaceful demonstration in U.S. history, many were left wondering: Now what?
If you’re reading this, we’re confident there will be more marches, calls to senators, and civic engagement in your future. But in between those and the normal business of living, it’s important to stay inspired.
So we’ve compiled a list of films to do just that—inspire you, make you mad, and remind you that there’s hope in the fight for justice and equality.
1. 20th Century Women (2016)
When you want role models, or want to know how to raise a good feminist.
This film (in theaters now) follows an independent single mom, her teen son, and their housemates in 1979 Santa Barbara. When the mother, stellarly played by Annette Bening, asks her son’s girl friends to help him figure out how to grow into a man, they do their best, and end up teaching him to be a feminist in the process. It’s uplifting and honest.
2. Mustang (2015)
When you need an achingly beautiful reminder of why you’re fighting for equality.
Mustang follows five orphan sisters as they grow up in a conservative village in rural Turkey. Spirited and vivacious, they’re confined to their home as their family prepares to marry them off. It’s a good movie for anyone who wants to feel motivated to fight for women’s rights around the world.
3. Whale Rider (2002)
When you need to believe in the next generation of women leaders.
Set in New Zealand, Whale Rider is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Pai who knows she’s destined to be her tribe’s next chief. But in order to become their leader, she has to change the mind of her conservative grandfather, who believes the next chief can only be a man.
4. Miss Representation (2011)
When you want teen girls to understand that they are more than their pretty faces.
This documentary explores the ways in which American culture undermines women in power, and the way the media often reduces women to their appearance, rather than focusing on their substance. While some trappings of this film already feel a little dated (flip phones are featured in the opening scenes), the message and content are, unfortunately, not dated at all.
5. Sisters in Law (2005)
When you want to be inspired by brave women’s work for justice.
Two women magistrates in Cameroon work for justice and heal their community as they handle cases of those who have been neglected, abused, and raped. A documentary tear-jerker.
6. Frida (2002)
For anyone striving to find their own voice and live unapologetically, despite great obstacles.
Based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, this biopic follows the painter through the dramatic ups and downs of her life. Kahlo, played by Salma Hayek, must overcome a debilitating childhood accident and fight for her own place in the art world when many overlook her in favor of her famous husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Despite the challenges she faces, Kahlo lives with unapologetic verve and passion—and does things her own way until the end.
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2014)
When girls want a role model who defends her community, fights for survival, and wins.
In this post-apocalyptic world, a cruel gladiatorial game pits teens against one another in a fight to the death. Everyone expects Katniss Everdeen, a girl from the country’s poorest district, to lose. But her bravery and love of family and friends disrupt her world’s cruel social order.
8. Saving Face (2004)
When you’re having a hard time with family members who have different views from you.
This film follows a young Chinese-American surgeon, Wil, who’s scared to come out to her mother and her community. But when her mom becomes pregnant by an unknown man and comes to live with Wil, the two must bridge the gap between them with honesty, understanding, and love.
9. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
When you want to imagine that a post-apocalyptic future could still hold hope.
This film might be named after a guy, but it’s the women in this movie who steal the show, especially Charlize Theron, who plays badass desert renegade Imperator Furiosa. Over the course of the film, she and other brave women go from prisoners to revolutionaries, overturning a scary despot and fighting for a new reign of respect for the earth.
10. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
When you want to get angry about gender injustice.
Based on a real-life story, this film follows a transgender man named Brandon Teena who goes to Nebraska to make a life for himself. Along the way, he finds love but struggles to live in the midst of other people’s hatred and prejudice when they realize he was assigned female at birth. This tragic story reminds us that the fight for gender equality—for all—is far from over.