Contemporary Voices: Films for Global Education

Contemporary Voices: Films for Global Education

This playlist was created to help educators at the secondary level to integrate documentary films about various global issues into their curriculum across several subject areas. It has been developed to suit the curricula of provinces and territories throughout Canada. The films and interactive projects were selected to represent a variety of global issues that fall into seven broad categories, including Environmental Conservation & Sustainability, Human Rights, Social Justice & Globalization, War, Conflict & Peace, and International Development Issues.

Education for global citizenship encourages youth to develop empathy for others living across the planet and to realize we all share our environment. When educators raise awareness of the issues and mobilize students to take action, this helps our youth develop a consciousness of our interconnectedness and interdependence. By teaching global citizenship, we provide students with the skills to participate in ensuring their own and our collective well-being. Introducing international issues in the classroom empowers students and helps to motivate them to contribute positively to a society that values human rights, justice, peace, global solidarity, environmental sustainability and global health.

Documentaries expose us to different realities, confront our concepts of truth and play a profound role in shaping our understanding of the world today and the world we want for tomorrow. By watching and analyzing documentaries, students learn about their own roles as global citizens and discover the key factors behind global challenges.

We encourage educators to use this playlist and in the films on the NFB Global Issues Film List, to enhance classroom learning. The CONTEMPORARY VOICES: Global Issues Educator's Guide offers discussion questions that encourage students to probe the global challenges presented in the films and to explore solutions and courses of action. There is also a section addressing media literacy within the context of global issues. It has been designed to help students analyze a medium, such as film, its message, its audience, certain production elements and its potential impact. A curriculum matrix will help educators to identify the curricula in each province and territory related to the issues covered on the Global Issues playlist and in the Global Issues Film List.

Teachers and students who would like to further explore specific global issues can learn more from the resources section at the end of the guide.

Create your own chapters and playlists with the films featured on the Global Issues playlist and customize classroom learning. Subscribing to CAMPUS allows you to use the chaptering tool to select a specific part of a film that is the most pertinent for your purposes. Use the chaptering tool to easily select a specific sequence of a full-length film, add it to your own playlist, write lesson notes and questions, and then screen the playlist for your students. Find out more by reading about the chaptering tool here.


CONTEMPORARY VOICES: Global Issues Educator's Guide
Global Issues Film List

  • Avenue Zero
    2009|52 min

    Human trafficking is a reality: Asian girls are enslaved in suburban massage parlors; domestic workers toil like slaves in suburban homes; girls in a Montreal subway station are lured into prostitution; Vancouver gangs recruit Honduran boys to sell drugs. Featuring candid interviews with victims, witnesses and perpetrators, Avenue Zero weaves a spellbinding portrait of a dark and sinister trade flourishing in the shadows of the law.

  • Tiger Spirit
    2008|52 min

    This full-length documentary tells the story of modern Korea, a nation divided in half. The psychic scar shared by families divided during the Korean War in the 1950s is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Along this infamous border, filmmaker Min Sook Lee begins an emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. An eloquent tale of longing and hope, Tiger Spirit is an unforgettable portrait of Korea at a crossroads.

  • Beef Inc.
    1999|50 min

    A struggle for control of the world food market is waging, and the battle promises to escalate in the 21st century. Beef Inc. examines how a handful of companies have come to dominate beef production and distribution in North America.

    As traditional farming falls victim to agri-business, small producers and consumers are paying the price. What has been a way of life for generations is now solely a money-making venture for big business. In the beef industry, a strategy of "intense livestock production" has been implemented to boost profit margins. Cattle are housed and fattened in overcrowded feed lots, a situation which exposes them to disease. To combat this, the animals are systematically vaccinated, given antibiotics and pumped with growth hormones. No regard is given to the potential health risks to consumers or the quality of the end product.

    This film gives a voice to the independent cattle producer who, unable to compete with the corporations, find themselves being squeezed out of the industry. In French with English subtitles.

  • The Bicycle: Fighting AIDS with Community Medicine
    2006|14 min

    Follow Pax Chingawale as he cycles from village to village in Zomba District, Malawi, fighting AIDS at the grassroots. Pax volunteers with Dignitas International, headed up by Dr. James Orbinski, who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for Médecins Sans Frontières.

  • Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes
    campus 2003 | 52 min

    A hazardous mix of waste is flushed into the sewer every day. The billions of litres of water - combined with unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste and food - where does it all go? And what does it do to us? Filmed in Italy, India, Sweden, the United States and Canada, this bold documentary questions our fundamental attitudes to waste. Does our need to dispose of waste take precedence over public safety? What are the alternatives?

  • Earth to Mouth
    2002|41 min

    Filmed at the Wing Fong Farm in Ontario, this documentary follows the tilling, planting and harvesting of Asian vegetables destined for Chinese markets and restaurants. On 80 acres of land, Lau King-Fai, her son and a half-dozen migrant Mexican workers care for the plants. For Yeung Kwan, her son, the farm represents personal and financial independence. For his mother, it is an oasis of peace. For the Mexican workers, it provides jobs that help support their children back home.

  • Grace, Milly, Lucy... Child Soldiers
    2010|1 h 13 min

    This feature documentary exposes the little-known tragedy of girl soldiers in Uganda. How can they learn to live normal lives again after being abducted and trained to become killing machines? Clinging to their dreams, Grace, Milly and Lucy are trying to restore meaning to their lives and break the silence surrounding the fate of a sacrificed generation.

  • Prosecutor
    campus 2010 | 1 h 34 min

    This feature documentary follows the Chief Prosecutor through the first trials of the newly formed International Criminal Court. Luis Moreno-Ocampo investigates and prosecutes some of the world's worst criminals for some of the world's worst crimes. He's a hero to genocide survivors, but has bitter enemies on both the Right and the Left. Is the ICC a groundbreaking new weapon for global justice or just an idealistic dream?

  • The Boxing Girls of Kabul
    campus 2011 | 52 min

    In this feature documentary, a remarkable group of young Afghan women dream of representing their country as boxers at the 2012 Olympics, embarking on a journey of both personal and political transformation.

  • Up the Yangtze
    2007 | 1 h 33 min

    This award-winning documentary follows the Shiu family as their home is destroyed by the rising waters of China’s Yangtze River - a consequence of the Three Gorges Project, the largest hydroelectric dam in history.

  • The Coca-Cola Case
    2009|1 h 25 min

    Columbia is the trade union murder capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers’ leaders have been brutally killed, usually by paramilitaries hired by private companies intent on crushing the unions. Among these unscrupulous corporate brands is the poster boy for American business: Coca-Cola.

    These unpunished crimes spur U.S. activists David Kovalik, Terry Collingsworth and Ray Rogers into an ambitious crusade against the soft drink giant. A searing indictment of a major corporate brand, The Coca-Cola Case takes us on a riveting legal game of cat and mouse via the U.S. federal court and the Stop Killer Coke! campaign.

    After five years of struggle, will Coca-Cola yield in the end? And on the verge of a settlement, what will the victims choose − cash, or power and integrity?