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These Were the Best Protest Movies From the Past Decade

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The four figureheads of the Selma marches leading a group of marchers forward in Selma

Protests are woven into the fabric of the social experience. It is natural to find oneself at odds with some aspect of society, politics, religion, or really any and/or all aspects of life. The history of protests dates as far back as there have been governments and monarchies to protest against. In the U.S., the American Revolution of the 1770s that led to the country to break ties with England started the long tradition of protests and uprising on our shores. The 1960s saw protests crop up in the Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and protests against the Vietnam War. In 1969, the Stonewall Riots protested how gay people were treated in New York City.

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More recently, social media has made it easier for protests to get the word out to people, and the past decade has seen a great array of impassioned protesters fighting for justice and rights. Protests have cropped up for the Black Lives Matter movement, in protest of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police, and over the 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections. Hollywood has been making films about protests for as long as the movie industry has existed and there are plenty of examples going back to the 1930s, but today, we’ll focus on protest movies from the past decade.

Pride is a film about the miners’ strike of 1984-1985 in London when Mark Ashton, a gay activist, realized that the police were no longer harassing the LBGTQ community because their attention was focused on the striking miners. He decided to arrange a fundraiser in his community during London’s Gay Pride Parade. This led to the creation of “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners,” which raised money to help the striking miners’ cause. Pride won the Queer Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy and for the BAFTA for Best British Film.

RELATED: Netflix Pulls Out of Russia in Protest Against the Country’s Invasion of Ukraine

Selma is filmmaker Ava Duvernay’s account of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in Alabama led by Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Hosea Williams. The film premiered at the 2014 American Film Festival, and expanded to wide release on March 20, 2015, to honor the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. The film was nominated for Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Original Song, as well as being nominated for four Golden Globe Awards. Selma featured a deeply human performance from David Oyelowo as King, Stephen James as Lewis, and Wendell Pierce as Williams.

Stonewall is a film set in and around the events of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots on Christopher Street in New York City, when gay and lesbian community members clashed violently with the NYPD, leading to the creation of the gay rights movement and Gay Pride parades and celebrations. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Ron Perlman, Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Ryhs Meyers, and Joey King.

BPM (Beats Per Minute) also known as 120 Beats Per Minute is a French film that details the AIDS activism of the ACT UP Paris group in France during the 1990s. ACT UP, or AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, is an international political group that staged protests to end the AIDS Pandemic in the early 1990s. The screenwriters, Robin Campilo and Philippe Mangeot, used their own personal experiences with ACT UP to tell the story. BPM debuted at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and won four awards including the Grand Prix. It also won Best Picture at the Cesar Awards (France’s version of the Academy Awards)

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