The human imagination is capable of designing and creating the most beautiful works of art, yet at the exact same time, this faculty of mind has the potential for unspeakable horror and destruction.
The result of the balance between creation and destruction is chaos, which has given birth to the phenomena of life. Light and dark, eternally destined to coexist on all planes of reality as we (currently) know it.
Part of the evolution of humanity from cave-man to creator, has stemmed from a variety of factors, including our continued expansion of consciousness and creativity. Film, being one of our great inventions, is a means which allows us to simultaneously expand our consciousness, while engaging the soul in a visceral way.
“I don’t like the idea of “understanding” a film. I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.” – Federico Fellini
The collection of films in the list below will cause you to look inward, and will forever change the way you see the world you inhabit. The choices are not to celebrate chaos, but to initiate you into the darker realities that we coexist with, so that you may celebrate your own light, and perhaps find inspiration to step outside of whatever perceptual “Matrix” you may be participating in.
Proceed with an open mind, and an open heart, because once you’ve seen, you cannot un-see. For the best effect, watch the films in the order we’ve presented.
28 Unforgettable Films That Will Jolt You Out of the ‘Matrix’
Baraka: This non-linear documentary explores themes via a kaleidoscopic compilation of natural events, life, human activities and technological phenomena shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period.
HyperNormalisation: A 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. This film argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.
Samsara: This follow up to Baraka, explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of humanity’s spirituality and the human experience.
Thirteen: A 2003 American semi-autobiographical drama film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and written by Hardwicke and Nikki Reed, based on events from Reed’s life at age 12 and 13. It stars Evan Rachel Wood, with Wood’s character “Tracy” being loosely based upon Reed. Nikki Reed herself co-stars in the role of Evie Zamora.
Kids: Centered on a day in the life of a group of sexually active teenagers in New York City and their hedonistic behavior towards sex and substance abuse (alcohol and other street drugs) during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1990s.
Gummo: This 1997 American dystopian art film was written and directed by Harmony Korine, starring Jacob Reynolds, Nick Sutton, Jacob Sewell, and Chloë Sevigny. The film is set in Xenia, Ohio, a small, poor Midwestern American town that had been previously struck by a devastating tornado. The loose narrative follows several main characters who find odd and destructive ways to pass time, interrupted by vignettes depicting other inhabitants of the town.
Rich Hill: The film chronicles challenges, hopes, and dreams of three young residents — Andrew, Harley and Appachey — of a rural American town.
Andrew’s father has moved the family multiple times and his mother may suffer from agoraphobia. Harley lives with his grandmother in a trailer because his mother is in prison. Appachey was abandoned by his father at age 6 and lives with his mother and siblings. He chooses not to take medication for a number of conditions, including bipolar disorder, ADD, OCD, and ODD
Child of Rage: This CBS Television movie was made in 1992, and stars Ashley Peldon and Mel Harris. The film is based on the true story of Beth Thomas, who suffered from severe behavioral problems as a result of being sexually abused as a child.
Project Nim: Tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s.
Kumaré: To record the documentary, American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi transformed himself into Sri Kumaré, an enlightened guru from a fictional village in India, by adopting a fake Indian accent and growing out his hair and beard. In the film, Kumaré travels to Arizona to spread his made-up philosophy and gain sincere followers.
Jesus Camp: A 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Charismatic Christian summer camp, where children spend their summers being taught that they have “prophetic gifts” and can “take back America for Christ”. According to the distributor, it “doesn’t come with any prepackaged point of view” and attempts to be “an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community”.
The People vs. Larry Flynt: A partially idealized film of the controversial pornography publisher and how he became a defender of free speech for all people.
The Gods Must Be Crazy: A comic allegory about a traveling Bushman who encounters modern civilization and its stranger aspects, including a clumsy scientist and a band of revolutionaries.
Pururamburo: The film Pururamburo offers insight into how the initial encounter between natives and Europeans might have been hundreds of years ago. In this film, we will examine how these Dutch explorers express their orientalist ideas of the native tribes of New Guinea. We will also pay particular attention to how these white men construct the natives as the other, as savages, and as modern monsters.
Amadeus: The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri – now confined to an insane asylum.
Fear of 13: A Death Row inmate petitions the court asking to be executed. As he goes on to tell his story, it gradually becomes clear that nothing is quite what it seems. THE FEAR OF 13 is a stylistically daring experiment in storytelling that is part confessional and part performance, Nick, the sole protagonist, tells a tale with all the twists and turns of classic crime drama. A final shocking twist casts everything in a new light.
Into the Abyss: In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man) probes the human psyche to explore why people kill—and why a state kills. In intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry (scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen), Herzog achieves what he describes as “a gaze into the abyss of the human soul.” Herzog’s inquiries also extend to the families of the victims and perpetrators as well as a state executioner and pastor who’ve been with death row prisoners as they’ve taken their final breaths. As he’s so often done before, Herzog’s investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.
Saudi Arabia Uncovered: With undercover footage and on-the-ground reporting, “Saudi Arabia Uncovered” reveals a side of Saudi Arabia that’s rarely seen by the outside world. Stream the full documentary here: http://to.pbs.org/1Uc2bwP
The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan: In Afghanistan today, in the midst of war and endemic poverty, an ancient tradition — banned when the Taliban were in power — has re-emerged across the country: Many hundreds of boys, often as young as 11, are being lured off the streets on the promise of a new life, many unaware that their real fate is to be used for entertainment and sex. With remarkable access inside a sexual exploitation ring operating in Afghanistan, an Afghan journalist investigates this illegal practice, talking with the boys and their masters, and documenting how the Afghan authorities responsible for stopping these crimes are sometimes themselves complicit in the practice.
Who Took Johnny: An examination into an infamous thirty-year-old cold case, the disappearance of Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch, the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. The film focuses on the heartbreaking story of Johnny’s mother, Noreen, and her relentless quest for the truth about what happened on the tragic September morning in Des Moines when Johnny never returned from his paper route. Along the way there have been mysterious sightings, strange clues, bizarre revelations, and a confrontation with a person who claims to have helped abduct Johnny. Steeped in intrigue and conspiracy theories, WHO TOOK JOHNNY explores eyewitness accounts, compelling evidence, and emotional discoveries spanning three decades of the most spellbinding missing person’s case in U.S. history
Conspiracy of Silence: A powerful, disturbing documentary revealing a nationwide child abuse and pedophilia ring that leads to the highest levels of government. Featuring intrepid investigator John DeCamp, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and 16-year Nebraska state senator, “Conspiracy of Silence” reveals how rogue elements at all levels of government have been involved in systematic child abuse and pedophilia to feed the base desires of key politicians.
Monster – The Joseph Fritzl Story: In April 2008, the world was stunned by the shocking story of Josef Fritzl, a respected businessman, husband and father, who was arrested and accused of sexually abusing his daughter over the course of 24 years. Featuring unseen footage and exclusive interviews with family, friends and colleagues, this is the untold story of the man the international media dubbed “the monster”.
The Medicated Child: FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria confronts psychiatrists, researchers and government regulators about the risks, benefits and many questions surrounding prescription drugs for troubled children. The biggest current controversy surrounds the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Formerly called manic depression, bipolar disorder was long believed to exist only in adults. But in the mid-1990s, bipolar in children began to be diagnosed at much higher rates, sometimes in kids as young as 4 years old. “The rates of bipolar diagnoses in children have increased markedly in many communities over the last five to seven years,” says Dr. Steven Hyman, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health. “I think the real question is, are those diagnoses right? And in truth, I don’t think we yet know the answer.”
Requeim for a Dream: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep.
Before the Flood: A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet.
What Dreams May Come: After he dies in a car crash, a man searches heaven and hell for his beloved wife.
Life is Beautiful: When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.