Social justice is the understanding that all human beings across the world deserve equal rights in all sectors of life — whether it be economic, social, or environmental, everyone deserves to be treated the same with the same opportunities and to be treated equally with access to the same opportunities.
In this sense, social justice documentaries hold the responsibility of displaying social injustices to the world. They bring forward stories which may be unknown or overlooked to a wider audience and are much more significant than just being a source for entertainment.
Within the duration of documentaries, we get to learn of new ideas and events in depth, hence why they are highly productive in allowing us to learn more about the world.
Jessica Nagra, a fourth-year film major at Toronto Metropolitan University, recommends Saving Face, an Oscar-winning documentary directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge, which focuses on two Pakistani women who were brutally attacked by acid and how they struggle to heal, fight for justice, and move forward in life.
Nagra describes it as having the “aim to highlight how acid attacks are violent attacks which strictly target women and, because of this, they are rarely ever reported on news channels and media networks.”
“The film also features The Acid Survivors Foundation in Pakistan, an organization that demands justice be brought to impacted women and expresses concern over the cases which go unreported due to fear and shame,” says Nagra.
Favour Oladapo, a liberal arts and professional studies student, describes the monumental documentary We Can’t Make the Same Mistakes Twice as an “eye-opening film that allows us to truly see and understand the horrors of residential schools in Canada, and how the Canadian government has repeatedly underfunded Indigenous communities.”
“We often forget that the land we live on used to be that of the Indigenous. It is important to recognize that it was taken with force and violence. The film highlights the significance of our land and is an important reminder of our history,” adds Oladapo.
Social documentaries are often thought provoking and incite discussions or make you question your worldview. They remind us that there is always something to learn and that we are all “life-long learners.” Plus, they might encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new!