Remember the Titans may be one of the most renowned American sports films. It is also remains one of the most significant. Similar to all sports movies, it follows the trials of the underdog and peoples’ vulnerabilities coming to a head. Sports, in this case football, have a way of speaking out against the issues plaguing the community. In this film, football was the tool to fight racism and discrimination.
Based on a true story, Remember the Titans follows a team in Alexandria, Virginia - a place where football is a way of life. In 1971, Alexandria had a recently integrated school system where Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, takes over the head position at the school. The white players originally refuse to play for a black coach, but former head coach and now assistant coach, Coach Yoast, played by Will Patton, drags them back to the game out of fear that missing a season will lead to no scholarships.
There is constantly the battle of race within the framework of the team, but also externally —within the town and when the team steps on the field to play opposing teams. Coach Boone teaches his players lessons beyond football, most importantly being the value of working together and respecting one another, regardless of their background.
Today the south is still deeply divisive, yet sports can continue to play a role of diplomacy within communities. Remember the Titans reminds us of the power of working together, showing and earning respect as well as the trials and benefits of hard work.
From novel to movie, Wonder strikes every spectrum of human emotion. It leaves the audience reflecting on the magnitude of individual acts of kindness and the importance of embracing the small moments.
August, who goes by Auggie, has been home-schooled through 5th grade due to his many surgeries. Auggie was born with facial deformities that have hindered and complicated his life, both physically and superficially. All of his 27 surgeries have tried to ascertain for him, a more ordinary life —from being able to see to no longer having to rely on hearing aids. Although each surgery has aided in making Auggie’s life physically easier, he still is noticeably different from his peers.
The movie follows the cliche theme - to not judge a book (or person) by its cover. With the target audience being children, it is continuously perplexing to witness the extent to which children can inappropriately treat one another. That being said, the film intricately illustrates how behaviors are passed down from parents to children, including showing kindness.
Each day Auggie is confronted with stares, comments, backstabbing, and blatant bullying. However, as the story and your tears unfold, the audience is uplifted by the impact of meaningful actions and compassionate conversations as well as the power of altruism as a guiding force.
Wonder reminds us of what truly is important in life. Humans are instinctively good in nature, yet they they are shaped society and what it deems to be valuable. A humbling and beautiful film, Wonder will leave its audience members tears and it will serve as a reminder to listen before judging, to act with benevolence, and to pass along a smile to those you meet along the way.
“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” ― R.J. Palacio, Wonder
The Big Sick, an Amazon movie that hit theatres this summer, addresses the the complicated dynamic that children of immigrants face while living in America. The thematic question being: How does one partake in a fast-paced society that is heavily influenced by pop-culture and capitalism while also adhering to the culture of one’s parents and their homeland?
Born in Pakistan to Pakistani parents, Kumail Nanjiani is raised in the United States. He is a comedian who loves his parents and values his cultures, but struggles with his individual identity. He no longer abides by many of the traditional Pakistani practices that he was raised with, including his beginning to question his parents’ strong conviction that he marries a Pakistani woman.
Kumail falls for a white American student named Emily, but he is not able to fully commit or allow himself to be with her completely for fear that his parents will disown him for not marrying a woman from a similar background and set of values. It isn’t until Emily falls into coma that Kumail wrestles with his own beliefs. Not abiding by his parents’ desire for him to have an arranged marriage forced him to lead two separate lives. While discovering that he wants to marry outside of his home cultural practices, he realizes what his true values are - having taken some from his home culture and others from the American culture he grew up around.
As a comedian he addresses, comically and lightly, the ins and outs of racism and xenophobia within the United States. Kumail also showcases the mixed messages that many second generation Americans confront when they are part of two cultures.
Find the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJmpSMRQhhs
What the Health, a Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn documentary, has exploded online primarily as a vegan propaganda documentary. However, it also addresses much more than the value of eating a plant-based diet.
What the Health does focuses on the health components of a plant-based diet; however, it chiefly focuses on the corruption of the U.S. government and the funding behind food programs within the country. Further, the documentary takes a look at both the individual and environmental consequences that a diet heavy in meat and dairy cause.
As an individual who takes my health seriously (and therefore love my veggies), I began to consider health as a human right. Within the context of the United States, healthy food is often hard to find and even if found, it is often much more expensive than the unhealthy foods. This especially affects those in impoverished and underserved neighborhoods, where there are high rates of food insecurity. The government is the body who determines healthy food portions - in terms of categorizing food groups and appropriate portions. In order to make more profits, they are falsely advertising what is healthy and in turn, they are creating a largely overweight society - one in which diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and rates have skyrocketed.
So, is health a human right? I say, yes. People should not be misled by false information in general, but especially when its government is backed by large food and product agglomerations. Instead, people should understand what they are putting into their bodies, including knowing exactly: what each product does, where it comes from, and the process involved - for example how a steak derives from a cow. Having access to knowledge that enables us to live life to the fullest capacity is a human right. It is time for transparency in the United States food industry and ideally, the separation of companies and State.
What the Health is worth the watch - for both the mind and also the rest of the body. People need to see how interconnected and intertwined the U.S government is with the food industry. There is no shying away from this - the United States is a fat country and it is only growing moreso.. Processed foods, hidden sugar (mostly in the form of corn) in nearly everything and people not having access to the right information are driving factors behind U.S. obesity. Yes, people are entitled to live their own lives in the way that they see fit - whether it’s one of moderation or one of excess- however, the main takeaway from this documentary is: It is a human right to know what you are putting in your body and a human responsibility to consume less meat and dairy products for the future of this planet.
For an easy, plant-based recipe click here:
Nelson Mandela’s greatness is world renowned. He had the rare ability to see the bigger picture and act, accordingly. He understood that “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
“Invictus” is a powerful film about Nelson Mandela’s early presidency and outlines how even after his time in prison, he saw room for forgiveness for those who put him there and used the power of the national sport, rugby to bring an ever-so-divided country together.
Springboks Rugby, the South African Rugby team, was representative of apartheid history through its colors, flag and long symbolic power that had represented a divisive culture. Mandela knew this, as he himself had been harmed by apartheid’s lasting effects. However, he urged that Springboks Rugby keeps its colors. Consequently, the team’s pride and fan base, grew.
Played by Morgan Freeman, Mandela, speaks unequivocally about the power in and of forgiveness and that sport is the tool for community creation:
“Brothers, sisters, comrades: I am here because I believe you have made a decision with insufficient information and foresight. I am aware of your earlier vote. I am aware that it was unanimous. Nonetheless, I believe we should restore the Springboks; restore their name, their emblem and their colors, immediately. Let me tell you why. On Robben Island, in Pollsmoor Prison, all of my jailers were Afrikaners. For 27 years, I studied them. I learned their language, read their books, their poetry. I had to know my enemy before I could prevail against him. And we DID prevail, did we not? All of us here... we prevailed. Our enemy is no longer the Afrikaner. They are our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy. And they treasure Springbok rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they feared we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us. But this is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us, even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold. You elected me your leader. Let me lead you now.”
Similar to a large variety of sports movies, the force of the underdog prevails and captures a full range of emotions, from defeat all the way to complete and utter joy, as you watch how sports have the power to bring people together.
Invictus is a must-see historical film that brings you to the edge of your seat. It also portrays that true, admirable leadership is achieved with compassion and through graceful actions. This movie pays tribute to Mandela and the light he cast around the world. In the same sense, it is also heart-wrenching. Let “Invictus” take you on a two-hour emotional roller-coaster where you will see the power of humanity roar to life through sports.
The film, A United Kingdom, is a true story that depicts the relationship between the United Kingdom and its protectorate, modern-day Botswana (then Bechuanaland). The United Kingdom seeks to both exploit and annex the land of Bechuanaland to its already established neighboring colony, South Africa. In spite of this, Botswana strives to become its own independent, united Kingdom.
The movie is set in England in 1947. The audience is introduced to the courtship of a black man and a white woman. Despite society’s non acceptance of their relationship, they fall in love and wish to get married. They are met with many trials and obstacles from both sides. This is due, in part, because the young man, Seretse Khama, is the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Botswana. Consequently, the British government, the South African government and the current King of Botswana - Khama’s uncle, oppose his marriage to a British white woman. The South African government is involved because it had recently installed its apartheid system and therefore, did not consider a biracial marriage an acceptable, legal or binding agreement. Because of Britain’s resource-fueled, colonial ties in South Africa, the South African government threatened Britain with an ultimatum: either dissolve the marriage or risk having further access to South Africa’s resources. As is the case in many global conflicts, the roots lie in power and money - in this case, in the form of natural resources.
The film illustrates Seretse and Ruth’s fight for love in a climate that encourages relinquishing their love and parting ways. It also demonstrates how Ruth embraces her new Botswanan community and in turn, is slowly accepted into its society. Seretse juggles wanting to represent his people while also fighting for what is right— including severing ties with England, creating a life for his wife and child, and creating a united Kingdom where his people’s interests are met and not exploited. A United Kingdom is vibrant and touching, yet heart-wrenching and thought-provoking.
This true story also sheds light on the role that colonialism played across the African continent.. As illustrated in the film, Botswana declared its independence in 1966 under its first President, Seretse Khama. Today, Botswana remains one of Africa’s most stable nations. Its presidents have been democratically elected, its wealth is largely derived from diamond exports, and it is home to many South Africans who fled the Apartheid system. The film not only provides its audience with historical insight, but it also highlights today’s influence of colonialism, including the institutionalized racism that still exists.
A United Kingdom is an engaging watch, an historical must-see, and a film that implores its audience to reflect on and also to question the role that governments play in society.