The following films were selected for their entertainment value as well as their relevance to aspects of global health, world economics, international politics, and/or development.  They are available to the entire Penn community and we invite you to contact us to arrange to borrow them.  Email Dustin Utt,




11th Hour

Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this captivating documentary explores the perilous state of our planet, and the means by which we can change our course. Contributing to this crucial film are noted politicians, scientists and other ambassadors for the importance of a universal ecological consciousness. (IMDB Page)

Blood Diamond

Set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1999, the film shows a country torn apart by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces. The film portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels' amputation of people's hands to stop them from voting in upcoming elections. (IMDB Page)

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil today, as the source of human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management. Can the human race survive? (IMDB Page)

Born Into Brothels

Within the Red Light District of Calcutta this documentary explores the hopeless lives of the sons and daughters of prostitutes through photography and film. The director (Zana Briski) is determined to use the photography to provide the children with the opportunity for higher education, hope and a better life. (IMDB Page)

Closer Walk

This documentary examines the world AIDS crisis. The camera travels to Africa, where infections overwhelm the public health system and orphans face their own deaths, central Europe, where drug users spread the disease via shared needles, India, where husbands infect wives, and to the U.S., where grass-roots efforts in places like Kansas City confront cultural stereotypes. Interviews include patients, doctors, nurses, the Dalai Lama, and Kofi Annan. The film's tone is compassionate and urgent, the statistics overwhelming. The message: the AIDS epidemic, history's worst, continues. (IMDB Page)

CMC: A Healing God

You will meet doctors who are committed to providing the best of healthcare for the India's poor and needy and nurses who continue the maternity tradition that brought CMC to life. See how science and technology enhances communities that have been touched by the modern world and encounter the tragedy of lives lived in poverty. Discover a special place that goes beyond charity and experience what million already know - CMC is the Home of a healing God.

Constant Gardener

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption. (IMDB Page)

See New York Times Review.


The CDC races against time to develop a vaccine against an extremely lethal virus.
(IMDB Page)

Donka : X-Ray of an African Hospital

Over the years the hospital has accumulated substantial debt that neither the Guinean state nor international agencies will pay. Compelled to develop its financial autonomy, the hospital enforces a pay-as-you-go policy. This financial strategy is rigorously applied, but at a high human cost. In this hospital of last resort, families strive to save a child or parent, but without money, there are no drugs and little chance for survival. Revenues rise, but access to treatment diminishes. (Icarus Films: Donka)

Available at the Van Pelt Library (Link)


Irena Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century - The World Water Crisis. (Flow the Film)

Gods Must Be Crazy

For five thousand years things have stayed pretty much the same for Xi and his fellow Bushmen. Then one day an empty Coke® bottle drops magically from the sky and life goes topsy-turvy in the face of this generous "gift of the Gods." An international sensation THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY is one of the most original and thought-provoking comedies ever. Starring a real-life Bushman N!xau it's a movie that looks at us from the other side - and shows us just how crazy we are! (IMDB Page)

Good Fortune


Through intimate portraits of three individuals living in the poorest areas of Kenya, Good Fortune explores how massive, international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. (IMDB Page)


Grace Under Fire

North Kivu, in the eastern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been described as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. Since 1998, as the Congolese army has battled against a number of rebel militias, 5.5 million civilians have been killed and more than half a million women raped in the country. It is estimated that the conflict is now bloodier than any since World War II. In ‘Grace Under Fire’ we follow Dr Grace Kodindo, a leading advocate of reproductive health care and rights, as she explores what help is available for the people affected by the fighting. Do the women in North Kivu have access to the emergency services, health care and specialist drugs they need? Grace talks to doctors, nurses and ordinary people to find answers. (TVE Productions)

Hotel Rwanda

The true-life story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. (IMDB Page)

Inconvenient Truth

With wit, smarts and hope, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH ultimately brings home Gore's persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue - rather, it is the biggest moral challenges facing our global civilization. (

Inside Job


Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown. (IMDB Page)




Nelson Mandela, in his first term as the South African President, initiates a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. (IMDB Page)


Last Child: The Global Race to End Polio


From the frontlines in Nigeria, India, Haiti and elsewhere, "The Last Child" takes you behind the scenes where you'll witness the victories and challenges of trying to wipe out a disease for only the second time in history. (IMDB Page)


Last King of Scotland

As the evil Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Forest Whitaker gives an unforgettable performance in The Last King of Scotland. Powerfully illustrating the terrible truth that absolute power corrupts absolutely, this fictionalized chronicle of Amin's rise and fall is based on the acclaimed novel by Giles Foden, in which Amin's despotic reign of terror is viewed through the eyes of Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), a Scottish doctor who arrives in Uganda in the early 1970s to serve as Amin's personal physician. His outsider's perspective causes him to be initially impressed by Amin's calculated rise to power, but as the story progresses--and as Whitaker's award-worthy performance grows increasingly monstrous--The Last King of Scotland turns into a pointed examination of how independent Uganda (a British colony until 1962) became a breeding ground for Amin's genocidal tyranny. (IMDB Page)

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders


In the war-zones of Liberia and Congo, four volunteers with Doctors Without Borders struggle to provide emergency medical care under extreme conditions. (IMDB Page)


Lord of War


An arms dealer confronts the morality of his work as he is being chased by an Interpol agent. (IMDB Page)


Lost Boys of Sudan

Lost Boys of Sudan is an Emmy-nominated feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, a world away from home, they find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia. (

Malaria: Fever Wars

"Malaria: Fever Wars" highlights man's interminable fight against malaria, a disease which kills millions every year, and which is continuing to worsen. It delivers an up-to-date account of the global malaria situation from the perspectives of a few heroic individuals, each fighting their own very different battles against the disease. (PBS)

Millennium Villages project


The Millennium Villages project is led and executed by the communities on the ground in Africa. Throughout the continent, more than 400,000 people are leading this bold initiative, giving their time, skills, and resources to make the project a success and one that is relevant to local conditions. Because Millennium Villages are an investment toward a sustainable end to extreme poverty, Millennium Village communities strengthen their local governments and institutions and certify the preparation and implementation of the interventions in their community.

My Brother... Nikhil


Famous swimmer Nikhil Kapoor (Suri) deals with the repercussions of announcing the fact that he has HIV/AIDS. (IMDB Page)


Pandemic: Facing AIDS


Covers the key aspects of the world AIDS epidemic through powerful documentary stories about five victims and their communities, on five continents. (IMDB Page)


Painted Veil

A British medical doctor fights a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village, while also being trapped at home in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful wife. (IMDB Page)


When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit. (IMDB Page)

RX for Survival -- A Global Health Challenge

This groundbreaking PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) series examines what makes us sick, what keeps us healthy, and what it would take to give good health the upper hand.  Narrated by Brad Pitt.  Series originally broadcast in November 2005. (


A timely examination of human values and the health issues that affect us all, ¡Salud!looks at the curious case of Cuba, a cash-strapped country with what the BBC calls ‘one of the world’s best health systems.’  (

Shape of Water

In an intimate encounter with five very different women in Brazil, India, Jerusalem, and Senegal (narrated by Susan Sarandon with introductory narration co-written by Edwidge Danticat) THE SHAPE OF WATER offers a close look at the far reaching and vibrant alternatives crafted by women in response to environmental degradation, archaic traditions, lack of economic independence and war. (


A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories. (IMDB Page)

Water First: Reaching the Millennium Development Goals

Through the inspiring story of Charles Banda -- a local fireman turned waterman who has drilled more than 800 wells in his impoverished country of Malawi --- WATER FIRST conveys the critical role of clean water in addressing all other major global issues from hunger and poverty to women's equality, HIV/AIDS and environmental sustainability. (website)


Yesterday, written and directed by South African filmmaker Daryl James Roodt, is about a poor, young HIV-positive mother struggling to raise her daughter alone in a desolate landscape, while coming to terms with her imminent death from AIDS.   (

Last updated:  April 11, 2014

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