Slavery

12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave

This list of films investigates the history of slavery; with stories set during times when slavery was commonplace, to the slave trade and its effect on the formation of nations and the building of cross-global powers, as well as looking at more modern versions of slavery, including human trafficking, coercion, and the exploitation of vulnerable people. 

Zarafa

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration76 mins

Zarafa(2012)

Stunning animation about a young Sudanese boy’s escape from slave traders and his incredible and perilous journey to Paris with an orphaned giraffe.

When a young boy escapes from slave traders, his friend is left behind to be sold into domestic service in Paris. This animated journey sees the friends reunited after many adventures, and will gently introduce the topic of slavery for younger audiences.

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Amazing Grace

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration115 mins

Amazing Grace(2006)

Stirring biopic, telling the story of 18th century politician William Wilberforce - a crucial figure in the abolition of slavery.

This film, structured around the verses of the song ‘Amazing Grace’, gives audiences an insight into the start of the movement to end slavery in England, and the people who stood up to defend the rights of others to end this inhumane business.

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The Adventures of Huck Finn

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration103 mins

The Adventures of Huck Finn(1993)

Disney adventure following Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, on a trip down the Mississippi River with the escaped slave Jim.

Based on one of America’s landmark novels, this gentle retelling of the story sees Huck, an ill-educated young boy running away from a difficult family learn to challenge his prejudices as he bonds with his travelling companion Jim, a fugitive slave.

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Cinderella

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration101 mins

Cinderella(2015)

Lavish live-action version of the classic fairy tale, about young Ella’s quest to escape the clutches of her wicked stepmother.

Beset by tragedy after losing her parents, poor Ella’s troubles are not over as her late father’s wife cruelly uses Ella’s kind nature against her, forcing Ella to take over all the household tasks to earn her keep.

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Tales of the Night

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration81 mins

Tales of the Night(2011)

Complete with werewolves, magical instruments, sorcerers and mythical beasts, this French animation captures the enchantment of storytelling.

This animated collection of short stories is inspired by legends and folk tales from around the world. In one of the stories, in an ancient Aztec kingdom a slave girl uses her wits to escape a terrifying fate.

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Amazing Grace

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration115 mins

Amazing Grace(2006)

Stirring biopic, telling the story of 18th century politician William Wilberforce - a crucial figure in the abolition of slavery.

This film, structured around the verses of the song ‘Amazing Grace’, gives audiences an insight into the start of the movement to end slavery in England, and the people who stood up to defend the rights of others to end this inhumane business.

Read more
Dirty Pretty Things

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration97 mins

Dirty Pretty Things(2002)

Two undocumented migrants form a close bond as they help each other navigate the hostile and dangerous underbelly of a London most of us never see.

This thriller explores the underground business dealings that happen beneath the mainstream economy, that recruits and takes advantage of those in desperate circumstances.

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Planet of the Apes

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration108 mins

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Futuristic sci-fi classic about an astronaut whose spaceship crash-lands on a planet ruled by advanced apes who make humans act like slaves.

This classic film is a thrilling combination of blockbuster thrills and thought-provoking questions about the nature of being human. In a society ruled by apes the human beings find themselves subjugated under their new rulers.

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CSA - The Confederate States Of America

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration89 mins

CSA - The Confederate States Of America(2004)

Mockumentary envisioning what the US would have been like if the South had won the 1860s civil war, and slavery hadn't been abolished.

Highlighting the absurdity and inhumanity of slavery, this provocative mockumentary builds a picture of a nation forged on its continuing practice. While the history is fictional, there are references to real products from the not-too-distant past that caricaturised and dehumanised Americans of non-European descent.

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Manderlay

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration139 mins

Manderlay(2005)

Provocative Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier continues his investigation of US culture, this time set in a 1930s plantation with thriving slavery.

This film investigates a plantation that time has seemingly forgot; with slavery continuing despite abolition having been long in force. When the well-meaning daughter of a gangster arrives and tries to bring the plantation up-to-date, things don’t quite go to plan in this unconventional parable of colonialism.

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It's A Free World

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration96 mins

It's A Free World(2007)

Tired of awful jobs, Angie starts her own agency sympathising with the migrants she represents, but as her power grows she takes a malevolent turn.

This film investigates how people looking to better their circumstances by starting a new life in an unfamiliar country are vulnerable for exploitation by unscrupulous employers. Focusing on Angie, who initially sets out to help, but is turned by the opportunities she sees to make herself a quick profit.

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Beloved

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration165 mins

Beloved(1998)

Unsettling drama based on Toni Morrison's novel about a mysterious woman who enters the life of a former slave and is related to her disturbing past.

This moving drama focuses on the experiences and abuse suffered by former slave Sethe, who had to make unthinkable sacrifices to try and prevent her children experiencing the same fate as her.

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Girl Model

CertUnclassified

Age group14+

Duration77 mins

Girl Model(2011)

Sobering documentary that reveals the degradation and exploitation behind the glossy images of the seemingly glamorous global fashion business.

The shocking exploitation of naïve young girls, many of whom end up in debt as a result of following their dreams, is revealed in this documentary that focuses on the shaky start for a new recruit, and the experiences of the scout who discovered her.

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12 Years A Slave

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration129 mins

12 Years A Slave(2013)

The extraordinary true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted from New York and sold into slavery in 1841.

This unflinching representation of the brutality and indignity of slavery was a worthy Academy Award winner. Based on a true story, this film also highlights the stark differences in human rights for African Americans of the Northern and Southern states at the time.

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Belle

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration99 mins

Belle(2013)

Absorbing costume drama about the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in the 18th Century, blending period romance and politics.

Focusing on a young woman caught in a unique place in society as the daughter of a union between an aristocrat and a slave, this film also reveals the turning tide of opinion against slavery as campaigners for abolition begin to be heard.

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Mansfield Park

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration107 mins

Mansfield Park(1999)

This is a fascinating adaptation of Jane Austen's novel partly because of how very different it is to the book.

On the surface, this is a film about a young woman who is bound by society to seek a suitable match and secure her family’s fortune. However, beneath the navigation of the class system’s hurdles, this story is about the fact that wealthy society’s fortunes are founded on slavery- the realities of which are kept at arm’s length.

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Unchosen Short Films: Human Trafficking  11+

CertUnclassified

Age group11+

Duration34 mins

Unchosen Short Films: Human Trafficking 11+(2013)

Moving collection of shorts made in collaboration with anti-trafficking charity Unchosen.

These short films investigate the realities of modern slavery- and are based on real case studies. While at time shocking, these films serve to raise awareness of the illegal exploitation that is happening beneath the surface of society, and aim to provoke action to bring it to an end.

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Unchosen Short Films: Human Trafficking 14+

CertUnclassified

Age group14+

Duration36 mins

Unchosen Short Films: Human Trafficking 14+(2013)

Moving collection of shorts made in collaboration with anti-trafficking charity Unchosen.

Programmed in partnership with the charity Unchosen, this short film collection shines a light on the existence of various forms of slavery in modern society.

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Lincoln

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration144 mins

Lincoln(2012)

Steven Spielberg's epic biopic focusing on Abraham Lincoln's fight to end the slave trade in America.

Embroiling itself within the wheeling and dealing of politics, this film retells the attempt to gain the support to pass an amendment of great significance in a divided country wearied by war, and focuses on the nitty-gritty of the struggle to create history.

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Ghosts

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration95 mins

Ghosts(2006)

Nick Broomfield turns to fiction to tell the shocking true story of the 23 illegal Chinese immigrants who drowned while cockling in Morecambe Bay.

Focusing on the circumstances that allowed a shocking tragedy to take place, this film highlights the exploitation of the increasing numbers of migrant workers in Britain today. Director Nick Broomfield used a largely non-professional cast, whose own experiences shaped the direction of the script.

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Memoirs Of A Geisha

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration139 mins

Memoirs Of A Geisha(2005)

Based on the best-selling novel, this stunning film is the story of Chiyo, who is sold by her family to become a geisha at the age of nine.

This film investigates the conditioning of girls from a young age to inhabit an elevated yet subservient place in society, and invites the audience to consider the conflict in the presentation versus the reality for a young girl of the geisha experience.

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Africa United

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration87 mins

Africa United(2010)

Against the backdrop of the World Cup in South Africa, this film celebrates the resilience of children in adversity.

This tale of a children on an epic adventure takes in the experiences of many young people in challenging circumstances, from child soldiers through to young women forced to work in bonded labour. Together, this rag-tag group of friends rely on their wits to overcome their difficulties.

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Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

CertPG

Age groupAll ages

Duration98 mins

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price(2005)

Fascinating, sobering documentary which explores the social and environmental consequences of rampant consumerism.

The exploitation of workers on poverty wages in the US and across the globe as part of the budget supermarket’s business plan to maximize profits is explored in detail in this eye-opening documentary, made in 2005 but whose messages unfortunately still resonate.

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Johnny Mad Dog

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration96 mins

Johnny Mad Dog(2008)

The reality of child soldiers is depicted in disturbing, realistic detail as the young are exploited for evil leaders in an unnamed African civil war.

This depiction of modern forms of slavery shows how young boys are groomed to become child soldiers. Robbed of their childhood and disconnected from their former identities, their naivety and energy is harnessed for the most shocking use by their exploiters.

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