Get out the popcorn. It’s time for a movie marathon!
Major television and streaming networks have holiday marathons every year. The festivities call for the heartwarming and uplifting stories that make the holidays so bright, but it also calls for the nostalgic and life-changing lessons we can learn from holiday themes. Many themes during the holidays revolve around charity, forgiveness, hope, and general goodwill.
Wouldn’t social impact fit right in?
Whether you want a story that’s funny or a cry-worthy, here are films and documentaries to add a bit of social good to your holiday movie marathon:
We all deserve to pursue happiness, but what is that emotion exactly? The documentary Happy takes viewers across the world, from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata, to ask around about what really makes people happy. The documentary is filmed in an interview style, gathering the opinions and real life stories of people we meet on this cinematic, global journey. We’ll also get to hear scientists involved in happiness research give their insights on “the secrets behind our most valued emotion.”
So much shopping happens during the holiday season that you may need a small reminder of what happens with overconsumption. The Clothes We Wear focuses on uncovering what truly happens to textiles, garments, and sustainable fashion in Europe. Specifically, two reporters go undercover and get a glimpse of the environmental devastation caused by the fashion industry, alongside a better understanding of the profit companies try to exploit from using “sustainability” as an image.
What’s more heartwarming than being surrounded by loved ones? Fred Rogers, well known for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is a pioneer in educational children TV programs that reached beyond kids and touched the hearts of entire families. His show often touched on topics related to humanity, caring, tolerance, and emotional intelligence in a way that felt more approachable. This documentary goes through the background story of his profound ideals and unique presence on television over generations.
The holidays are a great time to reflect on how everything existing may play a role in our life in one way or another. All That Breathes captures the determined effort of brothers Nadeem and Saud as they decide to protect the black kite, a majestic bird of prey that’s in a bit of trouble. The bird plays an important role in the ecosystem of New Delhi, but had been suffering from the impacts of environmental toxicity and social unrest. Known as the ‘kite brothers’ for their mission, Nadeem and Saud set up a makeshift hospital to spend day and night caring for these special birds.
Social good can be fun too! If you like animations or have little ones around, you can watch The Sea Beast together. The Sea Beast is a fascinating story about magical beasts and the adventurous sailors who venture to find them. In this story, a young girl stows away on the ship of a legendary sea monster hunter and start out on an epic journey together. The characters help add comedy to the holidays while also showing us why we shouldn’t 100% believe every town folklore we’re told (especially ones that spread prejudice or misrepresentation).
It’s alright to have one or two classics for a holiday marathon. In fact, it’s a must. That’s why a heartwarming film like A Charlie Brown Christmas keeps the holidays full of goodwill. The story starts with the holidays being dragged down by materialism and an effort to brighten things up with a holiday play. The story ends up doing a 180 after some heartfelt revelations. (not to mention the memorable Christmas Tree)
Sometimes you need to take a step away from the hustle of life and find peace in another setting. The Biggest Little Farm talks about a couple, the Chesters, who left Los Angeles for a different life where they create a sustainable farm called the Apricot Lane Farms. It starts off with barren land and evolves into thriving acres, an inspiring story of having a big vision. Witness the triumphs and challenges of learning to manage a sustainable farm.
How about a holiday classic with a twist? Spirited is a musical comedy that adds a new flair to the timeless Christmas story by Charles Dickens involving a stingy miser and ghosts. This particular holiday film stars a bromance between Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds as they use their musical numbers to explore the question: “Do people really change?” Step into this whimsical parody where the afterlife includes a nonprofit agency pairing mean people with ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future to help the people move towards a positive direction.
This is a tale of an unlikely duo. A filmmaker, Craig Foster, finds a kelp forest off the coast of South Africa for a free-diving spot and befriends an octopus. This unusual bond is sparked by the octopus’ remarkable curiosity and further nurtured by Craig’s daily friendly visits. Watch as the friendship evolves between the interesting pair.
10. Tashi and Monk
There are people who find the most fulfillment by pouring into others. Buddhist Monk Lobsang may be one of such people as he left behind a life as a spiritual teacher trained by the Dalai Lama to move to the United States and start a community at foothills of the Himalayas. In this community, he rescues orphaned and neglected children, including 5 year-old Tashi who is the newest arrival. Both Tasha and Lobsang are finding opportunities to heal the vulnerable parts of themselves as the community gets to know each other better.