This is an easy and effective way to spread the word and teach while keeping students engaged at the same time. You can present a movie regarding gay rights, global warming, anything you’re passionate about. Let the film do the talking for you.
- Your school may have a space where you can show videos. An auditorium or even a study hall with a large screen and projector would be ideal since it seats the most people, but any classroom with a screen and projector can be just as effective (and perhaps cozier). Projectors are expensive, though, so if your school doesn't have one, you can always use a school TV.
- Can't screen a movie at your school? Are you affiliated with a religious organization? How about asking your religious leader for permission to use a room with video capability. Or you can also try asking your community center. Wherever you decide, ask if you can add the event to the the group's calendar or bulletin.
- Still stuck? How about asking a local movie theater to donate screen time or host the film series—even in the morning or during the day for school children or religious groups.
- Just remember: If you’re showing the film in a public place, you may need to obtain screening rights. Some documentaries have special nonprofit or educational editions you can purchase that include the screening rights. If that option is unavailable, contact the producer of the film you want to screen to ask if they will donate the rights just for this day.
If the video is short, you may be able to show it during class. Just ask your teacher’s permission first and arrange for the equipment to be ready ahead of time. If the video is long, such as a feature-length film, the best time for the screening may be during lunch or after school. Either way, you should make sure the equipment is prepared ahead of time and ensure you're allowed to use the space. It would be best to speak to a teacher to learn how to book the room so it's guaranteed to be free for the screening.
This screening should be catered to other students, but parents and faculty should also be welcome to check it out and help supervise the event. Let your teachers and classmates know, and if this turns out to grow into a large event, flyers can be used to help advertise.
Below are just a few suggestions on cause-related movies. Note: Be conscious that you are screening a movie in school so administration may deem some movies inappropriate. Make sure everyone has permission to see it.
| Animal Welfare
|| Free Willy, Behind the Mask: The Story Of The People Who Risk Everything To Save Animals, Earthlings, Gorillas in the Mist
| Disaster Response & Relief
|| Avalanche Alley, Dante’s Peak, Menace of Guatemala, Shock Troops of Disaster, Forces of Nature
|| A Raisin in the Sun, Crash, American History X, Hotel Rwanda, Philadelphia, Rent, Same Sex America, Boys Don’t Cry, Tying the Knot, Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story, The Laramie Project, Transamerica, Glory
|| Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, Good Will Hunting, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me
|| An Inconvenient Truth, Erin Brockovich, The Day after Tomorrow
| Health & Fitness
|| Super Size Me, Sicko, Thank You for Smoking, My Life
| HIV & Sexuality
|| Philadelphia, Longtime Companion, Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story, And the Band Played On, Juno, Children for Sale, The Day My God Died
| International Human Rights
|| Trading Women, Lilja 4-Ever, Promised Land, Union Democracy, Bread and Roses, Sweatshops: The Reel World of Globalization
|| Aparajito, City of God, A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story, Surviving Hunger
| Violence & Bullying
|| Bowling for Columbine, Searching for Angela Shelton, American Me, Boys ‘N the Hood, American History X, South Central
|War, Peace & Politics
|| Fahrenheit 9/11, Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda, Darfur Now, Glory, Blood Diamond, 18 in '08, The War Tapes
A Smooth Talk: How to host a discussion
- So the movie is over and you’re sitting in a room full of people. What's next? Make sure you hold a discussion about the movie where everyone voices their opinions on the topic. There's really no point to watching a movie unless there's time for discussion afterward!
- In order to start things off, always have a list of questions prepared that relate to the movie. Watching the movie on your own beforehand or finding a summary online can give you some ideas. Here are some sample questions:
- What are the main characters' struggles?
- What aspects of this movie relate to the cause?
- What sides of the issue does the movie focus on?
- What do you think the director/screenwriter wants the audience to take away from this movie?
- After watching this movie, how do you feel about the cause? Has your opinion changed?
- What can we do about this issue in our specific community? What resources do we have?
- Also, take a moment to think about how you want your conversations to be structured. Do you want to have everyone sitting in a big circle and let people voice their opinions without a moderator? Or maybe your audience should break into smaller groups and then share with everyone else later. What would be the best format for what you’re trying to accomplish and for the size of your event?
If you feed them, they will come: Providing for a hungry audience
A good way to get people to stick around, whether in your school gym or your living room, is food! Arrange for there to be some kind of snack and drink (cookies and juice work great!) at your event. If it’s a small gathering with friends, make it a potluck where everyone brings a snack, drink or condiment for all to enjoy—that way you won’t end up dishing out too much cash.
After the credits roll: Following Up
- The movie is done and discussion has died down. Before everyone goes home for the night, give them the option to leave their name and e-mail if they’ve been inspired to do something about the cause. Hopefully you’ll end up with a list of people who are equally interested about the cause and who you can team up with for a project.
- Consider asking all attendees to take a specific action, such as signing postcards or petitions that can be sent to the UN or state or national governors to advocate for your cause.
- You may want to also provide them with a simple fact sheet on the issue. It may give them food for thought later and/or they may pass it along to someone else.
Kind of Like a Movie Screening… But with a Twist
Have a book reading of a novel on your cause. Like if your cause is gay rights, try Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. After the designated time for members to read the book, hold a discussion about prevalent themes in the book, the characters, gay rights and how it is portrayed in the book, and other aspects you found interesting. Remember everyone's opinion should be heard!