Movies to Watch and Books to Read That’ll Change Your Life for GOOD
We are facing change and uncertainty on a global scale. One thing we do know is, together, we are not alone in our desire for a quick, safe and sustainable solution to the current crisis we face around the world. In the meantime, our nonprofit, Wellfit Girls, continues to offer creative programming and opportunities for wellness, fitness and leadership training for our participants and alumnae during this time of “social distancing”. We have our Annual 5k Run/Walk Hop to the Top on April 11th.
PLEASE join us from wherever you are. On the trails, sidewalks or your treadmill at home.
Our Wellfit Girls leadership team have been reaching out to our currently enrolled girls and alumnae by phone and video-conferencing (thank you, Zoom technology), to create social connection amidst the changes. While not physically connected at this time, we believe our bonds cannot be broken.
One silver lining during this challenging time is the number of girls we have all been in touch with and seeing on our live Zoom alumna calls.
While our current Lee and Collier County Summit Sisters are unable to currently meet in person, we offer their leadership and fitness sessions by Zoom video. We have also added two opportunities for alumnae to meet weekly, one for leadership and wellness conversations and the other for fitness and yoga.
I am mindful that being out of routine can be distressing for some. I am also aware that extended time at home with family can create tension and conflict. Sometimes an escape from it all is what we need. We can do that, while also learning and growing at the same time.
I’m a big fan of inspirational media to remind me that even in the most challenging times, there are so many that have overcome great adversity. I offer some watching and reading suggestions below that allow learning and inspiration for the whole family (mostly). I often use www.commonsensemedia.com if I am unsure of how appropriate content can be for younger ages. You may also contact me directly if you want to know more information about a certain film or book I suggest.
In an effort to limit mind-numbing social media scrolling or anxiety-provoking mainstream news, take some time to learn a little, be inspired by others’ stories of overcoming adversity and empowered to make change.
There are so many more films and books that deserve to be on this list.
Please feel free to share…
I’ll be posting more lists and some “quarantine” playlists, as well.
Follow at @WellfitJill or contact me at email@example.com
Jill Wheeler, MA, LPC, LMHC
Historical Fiction, Biographic Drama and Overcoming Adversity Films
Rabbit-Proof Fence – Three mixed-race girls are torn brutally from their Aboriginal mother and sent over a thousand miles away to a training camp for domestic workers as part of a government policy to integrate them into white society. Linking the camp and their distant home territory is a vast rabbit-proof fence, which stretches from one coast to another and just might help the girls find their way back.
Selma – Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Hidden Figures – Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.
Harriet – From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told.
He Named me Malala – After the Taliban tries to kill her for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai emerges as a leading advocate for children’s rights and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Soul Surfer – A natural talent in the sport of surfing, teenager Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses an arm in a shark attack. Bolstered by the love of her parents (Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid) and refusing to give up, she plans to return to competition, although questions about her future continue to trouble her. Upon seeing the devastation in Thailand caused by the 2004 tsunami, Bethany discovers a greater purpose: to make a difference in the lives of others.
12 Years a Slave – This biographical drama documents the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from Upstate New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. 12 Years a Slave won best picture at the Oscars and was hugely revered by audiences and critics. Not only was it brilliantly directed by Steve McQueen but the movie was touching and realistic.
Just Mercy – After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life.
When They See Us – In 1989 a jogger was assaulted and raped in New York’s Central Park, and five young people were subsequently charged with the crime. The quintet, labeled the Central Park Five, maintained its innocence and spent years fighting the convictions, hoping to be exonerated. This limited series spans a quarter of a century, from when the teens are first questioned about the incident in the spring of 1989, going through their exoneration in 2002 and ultimately the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014. The cast is full of Emmy nominees and winners, including Michael K. Williams, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, and Blair Underwood. Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Ava DuVernay co-wrote and directed the four episodes.
4 Little Girls – This Spike Lee documentary carefully chronicles the heartbreaking 1963 murder of four African-American girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Girl Power Documentaries
Warrior One – https://www.kanopy.com/product/warrior-one or www.fmtv.com
Girls are strong and can do hard things! Go Within to Go Beyond
Maiden – Maiden is a documentary film by Alex Holmes about Tracy Edwards and the crew of the Maiden as they compete as the first all-woman crew in the 1989–1990 Whitbread Round the World Race.
This Changes Everything – Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Rashida Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Oh, Jessica Chastain, Tiffany Haddish and other top actresses discuss gender discrimination in the media and entertainment industry.
Girl Rising – Stories of nine girls from developing countries, showing how they are overcoming great obstacles to obtain an education and change their fates.
Miss Representation – Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Condoleeza Rice, Gloria Steinem and others discuss sexism in American society and the media.
The Hunting Ground – Many college students who have been raped on campus face retaliation and harassment as they fight for justice.
Half the Sky – Filmed in 10 countries, the series follows Nicholas Kristof and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.
Audrie & Daisy – In two towns on different sides of America, two teenage girls pass out while intoxicated at high school parties and, while unconscious, both are sexually assaulted by boys they call friends. In the aftermath, the girls each endure online harassment, both attempt suicide, and tragically, one dies. The film explores this new public square of shame from the perspective of the teenagers and their families — including the boys involved in the assaults and the girls willing to speak out publicly.
Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul – A group of amateur and professional skateboarders bridge ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic barriers to bring hope to the children of a war-torn country – with the help of four wheels and a board.
Brené Brown: The Call to Courage – If you’ve followed Brown through the years, then you know she’s a “shame researcher” who hit it big with a really great Ted Talk, followed by some best-selling books…all on living a better life.
In this inspirational documentary, she focuses on vulnerability, but in a way that you’ve definitely never thought of before and the best part is…she’s actually FUNNY.
Desert Runners – A diverse cast of non-professional runners attempt to complete the most difficult ultra marathon race series on Earth.
The Mask You Live In – Explores how our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.
Stay Human – Award-winning musician Michael Franti takes us on a personal journey where he meets extraordinary humans who inspire him to overcome cynicism with optimism in today’s challenging times and STAY HUMAN. Featuring new music from Franti’s tenth studio album, “Stay Human Vol. II.”
I am – A great story about hope, recovery and optimism. Optimism and positive thinking are key to a fast recovery. After suffering a near death accident while mountain-biking, Tom Shadyac, the director of the Ace Ventura films, has went through a period of slow, painstaking recovery. While going through the difficult moments and numerous doctor’s appointments, he understands and reflects on the different things that are going wrong in the world. This documentary is an inspiration for anyone going through tough times, who feel that they are in dire straits or have no hope. Knowing that there is hope is crucial and this film shows that through positive thinking, everything is possible.
Heal – An inspirational documentary on Netflix and it will definitely make you think differently about how you treat your body and health.
The Weight of Water – A blind man must weigh his fear of drowning in white-water rapids against his desire to be free from a prison of darkness.
The Cove – In Taiji, Japan, local fishermen hide a gruesome secret: the capture and slaughter of dolphins. Activist Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the “Flipper” TV series, joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society to expose the brutal practice, risking life and limb in the process.
Racing Extinction – Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, along with activists, scientists and others, draws attention to mankind’s role in a potential loss of at least half of the world’s species.
Game Changers – James Wilks travels the world on a quest for the truth about meat, protein, and strength. Showcasing elite athletes, special ops soldiers, and visionary scientists to change the way people eat and live.
The River and the Wall – Five friends journey from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a border wall on the natural environment.
Cowspiracy – Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.
Chasing Coral – Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Personal Growth and Leadership Books
Broken Open – Elizabeth Lesser
Hood Feminism – Mikki Kendall (brand-new, loved it)
The Awakened Woman – Dr. Tererai Trent
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy – Joanna Macy
When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodron (everything by Pema)
Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
Journey into Power – Baron Baptiste
Welcoming the Unwelcome – Pema Chodron
Wolfpack – Abby Wambach
I Have the Right To – Chessy Prout
The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
A Beautiful Work in Progress – Mirna Valerio
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle – all of their books, can’t go wrong