For some reason — perhaps it’s now weekly mass protests against actions, decisions or statements by President Donald J. Trump — I’ve been thinking a lot about the history of political revolutions, movements and the weird space between the two where something is happening, but it’s not entirely clear what.
The following ten movies, all of them streaming on Netflix, tell stories (mostly true, occasionally fictionalized) about what it’s like to live in difficult times of political upheaval and change. Consider them research for the next four years, just in case.
Benicio Del Toro takes on the role of Ernesto Guevara, Argentine Marxist, author, guerrilla and star of a million student posters, in this two-movie mini-series retelling of his life story.
The Mexican Revolution of 1910 is celebrated in this centennial anthology that features contributions from Gael García Bernal, Patricia Riggen and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Diego Luna.
BEGINNING OF THE GREAT REVIVAL (2011)
The origins of the Chinese Communist Party are… well, kind of retold in this admittedly biased historical epic. Come for Fan Bingbing, stay for the curious re-educational lesson.
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (2012)
The life of political activist and sculptor Ai Weiwei is at the center of this surprisingly poignant documentary that explores the price he pays for his activism.
WE’RE NOT BROKE (2012)
Maybe you’d prefer some homegrown activism — so enjoy this look at how U.S. citizens responded to the fact that American corporations are really, really good at hiding money so that they can avoid paying taxes.
THE SQUARE (2013)
The 2011 Egyptian Revolution started small, as a way of protesting police brutality, and ended up taking down two governments. Maybe this should be considered a How To guide.
Maybe you’ve not heard about Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of Women on Waves, but this documentary will change that. Faced with restrictive abortion laws around the world, she did the least obvious, most productive thing possible: opened an abortion clinic on a boat that can help women where needed.
CUBA: THE FORGOTTEN REVOLUTION (2015)
The 1959 overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, the U.S.-backed dictator President of Cuba, didn’t happen by accident. This documentary looks at two overlooked figures who were in part responsible.
WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (2015)
A lot can happen in three months, as this look at the Ukrainian revolution — which started as a series of peaceful student demonstrations — makes all too clear.
HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD (2015)
Sometimes, revolution takes time. Ask the founders of Greenpeace, who get their day in the sun in this look at the beginnings of the now-iconic environmental organization.