25 Documentaries for Classroom Use

March 23, 2015

VCU collects significant documentaries on a range of topics and at faculty request. Have ideas about films we should purchase? Contact us or use this form. Want to reserve a film for classroom use? Reserve it and we’ll have the film ready for you when you need it. Freedom Summer, When the Levees Broke and 1971 are a few recommended titles from our 9,000-plus collection of films. 

  1. Urbanized (HT166 .U755 2012) A full length documentary film about city design.
  2. Historic Earthquake History Films (QE534 .H57 2007) - Vintage earthquake disaster footage, from 1906 up to 1973.
  3. Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served? (KF1250 .H68 2011) Analyzes and discusses so-called “frivolous law suits” and the impact of tort reform on the United States judicial system.
  4. The Interrupters (HN80.C5 I58 2012) - The moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who, with bravado, humility, and even humor, try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed.
  5. When the Levees Broke (HV636 2005.L8 W496 2006 ) - Structured into four acts, each dealing with a different aspect of the events that preceded and followed Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans.
  6. The Balancing Act: Security and Liberty Post 9/11 (KF4850 .B345 2005) - CNN journalist Frank Sesno moderates this energetic and informative program exploring the post-9/11 relationship between security and personal freedom in America.
  7. Brooklyn Farmer (S494.5.U72 B766 2014)  - BROOKLYN FARMER explores the unique challenges facing Brooklyn Grange, a group of urban farmers who endeavor to run a commercially viable farm within the landscape of New York City.
  8. Urban Roots (S494.5.U72 U72 2011) - This film follows the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit. Urban Roots is a timely, moving and inspiring film that speaks to a nation grappling with collapsed industrial towns and the need to forge a sustainable and prosperous future.
  9. Inside 9/11 (HV6432.7 .I55 2006) -  Presents an examination of the events of September 11, 2001, tracing a time line that led up to the terrorist attacks and the subsequent government response.
  10. The Road to 9/11 (HV6432.7 .R63 2006) - Since September 11, 2001, Americans have wondered how their nation had become such an anathema in the Muslim world. View a detailed look at the forces that have shaped the Middle East to give an understanding of the current crisis.
  11. Across the River (HT177.W3 A37 2005) - Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith offers powerful and encouraging portraits of urban heroes who are reviving once-dying neighborhoods.
  12. Philadelphia, the Holy Experiment (HT177.P47 P45 2006) - David Morse interviews a group of inspirational environmental activists from various backgrounds who are dedicated to the return of "Farmadelphia".
  13. Brownfields: Community Involvement, and Smart Growth (HD257.5 .B766 2006) - Experts drive home the importance of community involvement in brownfields reclamation.
  14. Urban Odyssey (HM856 .U733 2013) - Chronicles three Boston teens and three suburban retirees during a year-long escapade in the great outdoors, merging the resources of the Mass. Audubon Society Nature Center and the Belmont Habitat.
  15. Growing Cities ( S494.5.U72 2014) - From rooftop farmers to backyard beekeepers, Americans are growing food like never before. Growing Cities goes coast to coast to tell the stories of these intrepid urban farmers, activists, and everyday city-dwellers who are challenging the way this country feeds itself.
  16. Government and Public Administration (HF5381 .G68 2007) - This program introduces students to jobs in government and public administration, such as city manager, community relations manager, police officer, park ranger.
  17. Third Ward, TX (HT177.H68 T44 2007) - Third Ward TX chronicles artists finding inspiration in the remnants of a besieged black neighborhood's storied past.
  18. 1971 (HV8144.F43 A136 2014) - On March 8, 1971 a group of citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, PA, near Philadelphia, and took hundreds of secret files that revealed an illegal government program known as COINTELPRO. Never caught, they have remained anonymous. Until now.
  19. One People (PN1997.2 .O625 2007) - Against the backdrop of a gentrified Harlem community, the story centers on two sisters who have opposite views about social responsibility and the role of artists.
  20. Street Fight (JK 1976 .S774 2007) - Follows the 2002 race for Mayor of Newark, N.J. between 32-year-old Cory Booker and four-term incumbent Sharpe James. Fought in Newark's neighborhoods and housing projects, the election pits the young challenger against an old style political machine.
  21. Freedom Summer (E185.93.M6 F726 2014) - Over ten memorable weeks known as Freedom Summer, more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in one of the nation's most segregated states, even in the face of intimidation, physical violence, and death.
  22. A Dream in Doubt (HV6250.4.E75 D74 2008) - After several of his friends and family members suffer hate crimes in the weeks after 9/11, Sikh immigrant Rana Singh Sodhi attempts to organize and educate his community to prevent future violence.
  23. Brooklyn Matters (HT168.N5 B76 2007) Exposes how powerful real estate interests and politicians collaborate to circumvent local laws, seize private property through eminent domain, manipulate public participation and racial politics to push forward what could become the densest development in the United States.
  24. The Garden (SB457.3 .G37 2008) - The 14 acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles was the largest of its kind in the United States. It was started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992. Since that time, the South Central Farmers have created a miracle in one of the country's most blighted neighborhoods.
  25. Bomb It (GT3912 .B64 2008) - This film tells the story of graffiti from its cave-painting ancestors through its notorious explosion in New York City during the 70's and 80's as living museums appeared on trains rolling between the Bronx and Brooklyn.
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