2021 in Social Impact Entertainment

Working in the Social Impact Entertainment world is exciting right now. It seems that each week we’re gifted new entertaining, empowering and informative films, television series, literature and theatre productions geared towards changing the world for the better.

The Together Films team have each cherry-picked their favourite work of Social Impact Entertainment from the past year that promise to move and entertain you in equal measure. Covering social issues that are at the forefront of social and political agendas, these recommendations promise true storytelling that shakes the heart and sparks conversation.  The team have spoken… now find out their highlights!

Sarah – Founder & CEO

Recommends: Colin Kaepernick in Black and White

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: This amazing new 6-part mini-series from Ava DuVernay is an exploration of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s high school years, and experiences that led him to become an activist.

How did it make you feel? While I was watching the series, I felt inspired, empowered and motivated to continue to challenge racial injustice in all its forms. Each episode tackled topics and raised questions around what it means to grow up black in a society that favours whiteness. That it was uniquely narrated by Colin made this story so poignantly personal.

Alex – Director of Operations

Recommends: In My Blood It Runs

Where to watch: Together Films

Synopsis: In My Blood It Runs is a film about a young Aborigine boy, who is struggling with the education system in Australia.

How did it make you feel? Watching Dujuan and his family’s experience of Australian schooling opened my eyes as to how Western education systems are so geared towards white history. This is so deeply traumatising, and unfair for those who actually don’t share or necessarily live that culture, though they share geography. We need to decolonize our curriculum, now!

Beccy – Director of Impact & Events

Recommends: SAMSKARA

Where to watch: It’s sadly finished its run at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be back for a national tour! Here’s hoping!

Synopsis: Inspired by real-life testimony and told through an explosive fusion of physical theatre, hip-hop dance and text, SAMSKARA explores vulnerability, emotional trauma and how cycles of fathering affect masculinity.

How did it make you feel? This was one of the most moving pieces of work I’ve seen in a long time. I’m a huge fan of Lanre’s work, he’s an incredible talent on the rise! SAMSKARA has stayed with me for weeks since I first saw it, and started some important conversations with friends and family about race, gender and identity.

Alana – Head of Impact Strategy

Recommends: Maid

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: Single mother Alex turns to housecleaning to make ends meet as she escapes an abusive relationship and overcomes homelessness to create a better life for her daughter, Maddy.

How did it make you feel? Hardly original as it felt like the whole world was watching! But, without a doubt, Maid was one of the most powerful & thought-provoking things I’ve watched this year. The show portrayed the issues of domestic violence and coercive control in a nuanced and yet visceral way; something I don’t think I’ve ever seen done quite so effectively anywhere else. It dealt with topics close to my heart that I’m happy to see people talking about more and more. Watching it open up conversations with friends and family has been a stark reminder of the power of social impact dramas. An ABSOLUTE must watch for me!

JP – Head of Digital Marketing & Partners

Recommends: The Reason I Jump

Where to watch: Netflix (US) or DVD (UK)

Synopsis: The Reason I Jump is the beautiful documentary by Jerry Rothwell which was released in UK cinemas earlier this year. It’s loosely based on the book by Naoki Higashida which had a major impact when it was published in English. Higashida wrote the book when he was thirteen years old and explained his experience as a non-speaking autistic person. The film examines the lives of five young people who live with autism spectrum disorder.

How did it make you feel? I love this documentary. I thought I understood what autism was but I was wrong; this film enlightened me and changed my misconceptions. I’ve never seen a film made with such empathy, the filmmaker draws you in by immersing you into the experience of not being able to communicate with the people around you and the ones you love. He achieves this by using an expressionist approach to sound design, framing and camera movements – the result is revelatory.

Tina – Operations Administrator

Recommends: Flee

Where to watch: Wide release in Feb 2022

Synopsis: Flee tells the extraordinary true story of a man, Amin, on the verge of marriage which compels him to reveal his hidden past for the first time.

How did it make you feel? As a personal highlight of this year’s London Film Festival, I couldn’t recommend it more – while Flee is a devastating depiction of the true horrors of immigration and global border systems, the film equally has joyous, uplifting moments of self-realisation and human connection.

Hannah – Impact Engagement Officer

Recommends: Reservation Dogs

Where to watch: Disney +

Synopsis: The show follows a group of Indigenous kids living on a reservation in Oklahoma, and they’re desperate to get out. It was directed, written and stars Indigenous people.

How did it make you feel? While watching Reservation Dogs I laughed, I smiled, and was really sobered by how unique this series is. The show is groundbreaking for indigenous representation in media and television, and actually deconstructs familiar and harmful tropes of Native experience used in pop culture. It really reaffirmed for me the importance of representation in film, and how crucial it is that diverse storytellers are given a platform to tell these stories. Which, in turn, has such an impact on society!

Laila – Impact Research Administrator

Recommends: Feathers

Where to watch: TBA – I watched it in a film festival this year!

Synopsis: An Egyptian film that won 2021 Cannes Critics Award. The film is about a family that is forced into a period of self-discovery after its authoritarian patriarch is accidentally turned into a chicken by a magician during a children’s birthday party. The film makes a social critic around poverty in Egypt and this is seen through the family’s representation.

How did it make you feel? When I first watched the film I was not sure how to feel. There were a few moments that did make me feel really sad! While some critics have written to say it’s a poignant film, I like to think it’s hopeful, as by shedding light on the genuine social problem in Egypt I hope that it can spark change.

What are your top recommendations for impactful viewing in 2021? Let us know on Twitter! 

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Together Films are a marketing, distribution, and technology company based in London & NYC serving the international film community.

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