5 Socially Conscious Films to See This Fall

Some of the most powerful films in the history are the ones that spur political or social conversation. This season, there are a handful of new releases that are doing just that — helping to push issues like racism, imprisonment, and government corruption into the spotlight via real life stories. Here are five socially conscious movies to catch this fall, all inspired by true events.

The Good Lie

The drama flick, based on real-life events, features Reese Witherspoon as a pushy American assigned to help four young Sudanese refugees (known as the Lost Boys of Sudan) after they are displaced to the United States. Their lives are forever changed when they meet. Also starring Corey Stoll, Maria Howell, Sarah Baker, and Thad Luckinbill, the movie first debuted to positive reviews at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and has spurred award season talk for Witherspoon. The film is out in limited theaters now.

Kill the Messenger

Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb, the upcoming American drama-thriller film stars Jeremy Renner as the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the CIA’s role in importing cocaine into the U.S. and sending arms to Nicaragua. His exposure of the story makes him the target of a slanderous campaign that drives him almost to the point of suicide. Directed by Michael Cuesta, the movie is adapted from Nick Schou’s book of the same name and also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Sheen. It will be released on October 10.

Camp X-Ray

Kristen Stewart leaves her vampire days behind in this independent drama based on the real life temporary detention facility Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay camp. Stewart plays Pvt. Amy Cole, a young woman who joins the military in order to get away from her small town and be part of something bigger. Once stationed at Guantanamo Bay, she must deal with aggressive and sometimes hostile squadmates, and eventually begins an unlikely friendship with one of the detainees. The movie tackles the hot button issues of the imprisonment conditions and the soldiers’ harrowing experiences at Guantanamo Bay. It will premiere on October 17.

Dear White People

Justin Simien directed and wrote this provocative satirical take inspired by his own experiences at college. The movie centers on a biracial resident adviser and campus DJ named Samantha and three other black students as they try to navigate life as some of the few African-American attendees at the prestigious, but mostly white Ivy League college Winchester University. A riot breaks out when an African-American-themed party is thrown by white students. The movie, starring Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris, and Kyle Gallner won the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. The movie is set for release on October 17.


Written and directed by Jon Stewart, the drama is based on journalist Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy’s memoir, Then They Came for Me. The story follows the imprisonment of Bahari (played by Gael García Bernal), who was detained in Iran for more than 100 days after an interview with Stewart regarding the country’s presidential election. Bahari spent four months getting brutally interrogated at Evin Prison while his pregnant fiancée waited for him. He was often blindfolded during interrogation and the most distinguishing feature of his interrogator was his rosewater scent. The movie is released on November 7.

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