Sometimes when I am reading dense background information on a human rights issue, my brain freezes over, and I wish I could just absorb it as a movie. Fortunately there are heaps of blockbusters that touch on the "big issues".

Here are ten of my favourites movies with a human rights theme.

© Flickr / Joakim Wahlander© Flickr / Joakim Wahlander

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Amnesty Australia Blog

1. The Help

Based on the novel of the same name, The Help follows an aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s who decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

The Help, 2011The Help, 2011 /

2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Set during World War II, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells the story of the young son of a commandant at a concentration camp who makes friends with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence. Have tissues at the ready!

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, 2008The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, 2008 / Image sourced from

3. Osama

In Osama, the Taliban are ruling Afghanistan and women are not allowed to work. A family of women decides to have the preteen daughter masquerade as a boy so she can support the family.

Osama, 2003Osama, 2003

4. Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof Fence is set in Western Australia in 1931, three Indigenous girls escape after being taken from their homes to be trained as domestic staff. They set out for home across the desert.

Rabbit-Proof Fence, 2002Rabbit-Proof Fence, 2002

5. Milk

A moving snapshot of the career and life of Harvey Milk, an American gay activist who became California's first openly gay elected official.

Milk, 2008Milk, 2008 / Image sourced from

6. The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner follows Amir who, after spending years in California, returns to Afghanistan to help his childhood friend Hassan. Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.

The Kite Runner, 2007The Kite Runner, 2007 / Image sourced from

7. The Green Mile

A prison guard discovers that one of the death row inmates – an African-American man accused of murder – has supernatural powers. The Green Mile is both poignant and moving. Find out more about our work on the death penalty.

The Green Mile, 1999The Green Mile, 1999 / Image sourced from

8. Zero Dark Thirty

In Zero Dark Thirty CIA operative Maya is on the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. An interesting watch, if just to form your own opinion on the controversial torture scenes.

Zero Dark Thirty, 2012Zero Dark Thirty, 2012 / Image sourced from

9. Mary Meets Mohammad

An indie documentary, Mary Meets Mohammad. Local community member Mary is staunchly against the asylum seekers housed in Tasmania’s first detention centre, until her knitting club donates beanies to the inmates and she strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mohammad.

Mary Meets Mohammad, 2013Mary Meets Mohammad, 2013

10. Lord of War

In Lord of War Nicholas Cage plays Yuri Olov, an arms dealer who starts to question his work. On the surface it looks like a bad action movie but it's actually a really fascinating look inside the global small arms trade.

Lord of War, 2005Lord of War, 2005