Health and Human Rights

Blue Viinyl

William Baggett, Charlie Cray, Daniel B. Gold

Documentary, 2002, 98 min


With a lighthearted tone, the film follows one woman’s quest for an environmentally sound cladding for her parents’ house in Merrick, Long Island, New York. It also investigates the many negative health effects of polyvinyl chloride in its production, use and disposal, focusing on the communities of Lake Charles and Mossville, Louisiana, and Venice, Italy. Filming for Blue Vinyl began in 1994.



The Corporation

2004 Historical Documentary, 2 hr 45 mins.



This documentary begins with an unusual detail that came from the 14th Amendment: Under constitutional law, corporations are seen as individuals. So, filmmaker Mark Achbar asks, what type of person would a corporation be? The evidence, according to such political activists as Noam Chomsky and filmmaker Michael Moore and company heads like carpet magnate Ray Anderson, points to a bad one, as the film aims to expose IBM’s Nazi ties and these large businesses’ exploitation of human rights.



Fast Food Nation

2006, 114 mins


Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear), a marketing executive for a national burger chain must leave blissful ignorance behind when his boss gives him an unsavory assignment: Investigate scientific findings that cow manure is contaminating the meat used in the company’s top-selling hamburger. Don’s search takes him from his comfortable office to a vast feedlot, to the inner rooms of a slaughterhouse manned by illegal immigrants, who must do all the dirty work.



Mwana Wako Ni Mwana Wanga – “Your Child Is My Child”

2010, 50 mins


As HIV/AIDS sweeps through Sub-Saharan Africa, many countries such as Zambia are left struggling in its wake. With the lowest life expectancy in the world, just 33 years, one entire generation is being wiped out and another is being left to fend for themselves. These are the stories of the children of Zambia… stories of pain, of struggle, of sorrow, and ultimately of hope.



Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman

2004, 62 min

Is water part of a shared “commons,” a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? “Thirst” tells the stories of communities in Bolivia, India, and the United States that are asking these fundamental questions.Over a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Each year, millions of children die of diseases caused by unsafe water. The numbers are increasing.These facts drive a debate in the opening scenes of “Thirst” at the 2003 Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan. Politicians, international bankers, and corporate executives gather to decide who will control global fresh water supplies. Their consensus for large dams and privatized, corporate water systems is challenged by experts and activists who assert that water is a human right, not a commodity to be traded on the open market.Oscar Olivera, a community leader from Bolivia, startles a panel of CEOs with his words, “Many of the companies represented here have stained the water with the blood of our compatriots.” The film briefly shifts to Bolivia where Olivera leads a full-scale insurrection against a water privatization contract with the US-based Bechtel Corporation. Tens of thousands of people battle police and the army to protect their water rights. After a sharpshooter kills 17-year-old Victor Hugo Daza, the government is forced to expel one of the world’s most powerful corporations.The central story in “Thirst” takes place in Stockton, California. Mayor Gary Podesto proposes to give control of the water system to a consortium of global water corporations. He is surprised by the reaction as Stockton residents create a new grassroots coalition to demand a say in the decision. They are worried about price hikes, water quality, and layoffs of public employees, who tend to be women or people of color. African American water plant supervisor Michael McDonald sees democracy itself at stake in this battle. In India, a grassroots movement for water conservation has rejuvenated rivers, literally changing the desert landscape. Led by Rajendra Singh, who locals call “a modern day Gandhi”, the movement opposes government efforts to sell water sources to companies like Coke and Pepsi. Singh journeys across India to organize resistance, finding millions eager to join his crusade.The water activists from Bolivia, Stockton and India all meet at the World Water Forum in Kyoto as part of a new movement against global water privatization. As the Forum reaches it final day, no one anticipates the explosive outcome.