Documentary The Best Documentaries About Poverty  

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There are a number of documentaries out there that detail the different aspects and behind the scenes issues about poverty, including homelessness both locally and globally, child rights within foreign countries like India, the decrease of the dollar in America, and water and food shortages as a result of a lack of financial stability in third world countries. What are the best documentaries about the poor? Poverty literally affects every country in the world in one way or another. This list includes films that focus on issues that currently influence parts of the world, as well as documentaries that take a historical approach, such as America’s Great Depression and the lasting effects it had.
 
This list discusses the best documentary films discussing poverty issues, including: It Was a Wonderful Life, American Vagabond, Gulabi Gang, and The End of Poverty? Vote up those you recommend, and please add any that we missed.

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Dilli Dilli is a 2011 documentary short history film written and directed by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas.

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Appunti per un film sull'India Appunti per un film sull'India is a 1968 short documentary film by Pier Paolo Pasolini where he visits India in the search of a king who could give up his body to feed a starving tiger. The film was shot around post-independent India when it ...more

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Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family is a 1993 documentary film about life in the slums of Palermo, Sicily, directed by Andrew Young and Susan Todd. The film is a sequel to Cortile Cascino, a 1961 documentary shot by Andrew ...more

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The End of Poverty? Joseph Stiglitz, Susan George, Chalmers Johnson Global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies - in other ...more

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Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico is a Brazilian documentary produced by rapper MV Bill, his agent Celso Athayde and the Central Única das Favelas audiovisual center. The documentary presents the life of young favela dwellers who ...more

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One Dollar One Dollar, el precio de la vida is documentary directed by Hector Herrera and Joan Cutrina. The documentary portrays a stark vision of the reality of life on the streets of Panama, focusing on the city of Colon. The film was shot in the months ...more

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Far from the Trees Far from the Trees is a documentary film by Spanish artist and director Jacinto Esteva Grew. Shot in 1963, it was held up for nine years before its release in 1972. A documentary told as a travelogue and intent on exposing the intense poverty ...more

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Hauling Hauling is a 2010 documentary film on poor families who work as recyclers in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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Mieux vaut mal vivre que mourir Mieux vaut mal vivre que mourir is a 2006 documentary film.

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Gulabi Gang Gulabi Gang is a 2012 documentary film written by Torstein Grude and Nishta Jain and directed by Nishta Jain.

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Not My Life Not My Life is a 2011 American independent documentary film about human trafficking and contemporary slavery. The film was written, produced, and directed by Robert Bilheimer, who had been asked to make the film by Antonio Maria Costa, ...more

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Half the Sky Movement

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The Price of Sugar The Price of Sugar is a 2007 Uncommon Productions film directed by Bill Haney and produced by Haney and Eric Grunebaum about exploitation of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic involved with production of sugar, and the efforts of ...more

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Recycled Life Recycled Life is a 2006 American short documentary film directed by Leslie Iwerks. It relays the story of a massive toxic landfill near Guatemala City, and the local residents who scavenge there to eke out their meager living. It was nominated ...more

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Little Red Wagon Anna Gunn, Frances O'Connor, Daveigh Chase Little Red Wagon is an upcoming film directed by David Anspaugh.

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Bombay Beach Bombay Beach is a 2011 documentary film directed and produced by Israeli filmmaker Alma Har'el. The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit "Truer than Fiction" Award, won "Best Feature Documentary" at the 2011 Tribeca ...more

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Poor No More Poor No More is a 2010 documentary film directed by Canadian filmmakers Bert Deveaux and Suzanne Babin. The executive producer is David Langille. Hosted by Canadian actor and comedian Mary Walsh, the film is set at the height of the late 2000s ...more

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Down and Out in America Down and Out in America is a 1986 Academy Award-winning documentary film that critiques Reaganomics by showing examples of poverty in the United States. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, tying with Artie Shaw: Time Is All ...more

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Jenny Is a Good Thing Jenny Is a Good Thing is a 1969 American short documentary film about children and poverty, directed by Joan Horvath. Produced for Project Head Start, it shows the importance of good nutrition for underprivileged nursery school children. The ...more

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A Year Toward Tomorrow A Year Toward Tomorrow is a 1966 American short documentary film about the Volunteers in Service to America, directed by Edmond Levy. It won an Academy Award in 1967 for Documentary Short Subject.

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Redlight Redlight is a documentary film about human trafficking in Cambodia that premiered on October 4, 2009 at the Woodstock Film Festival. Lucy Liu was the film's executive producer and narrator. The film is produced by Kerry Girvin and directed by ...more

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The People of the Kattawapiskak River The People of the Kattawapiskak River is a 2012 documentary film by Alanis Obomsawin exploring conditions inside the Attawapiskat First Nation, which in October 2011 declared a state of emergency due to health and safety concerns over a lack of ...more

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American Vagabond American Vagabond is a 2013 Finnish documentary film directed by Susanna Helke.

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Odysseus' Gambit Odysseus Gambit is a 2011 short, documentary and biographical film directed by Àlex Lora.

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Food Stamped Food Stamped is a 2010 documentary film by Shira Potash and Yoav Potash, about food stamps and a couple who take the food stamp challenge and live on a food stamp budget for one week. The film features U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, one of ...more

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Waging a Living Waging a Living is a 2005 documentary film that addresses the issue of the American dream and whether or not hard work will invariably improve your condition. Examining the lives of four Americans in California and the Northeast who work ...more

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On the Bowery Frank Matthews, Ray Salyer, Gorman Hendricks On the Bowery is a 1956 American docufiction film directed by Lionel Rogosin. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. After the Second World War Lionel Rogosin made a vow to fight fascism and racism wherever he found ...more

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It Was a Wonderful Life Jodie Foster It Was a Wonderful Life is a 1993 documentary film about homeless women in the United States. It won the Gold Award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. It was also nominated for an award by the International Documentary ...more

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While I Run This Race While I Run This Race is a 1967 American short documentary film directed by Edmond Levy about poverty in the United States. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

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A Place to Live Bill Watts, William Kesselring, Frieda N. Blank A Place to Live is a 1941 documentary film directed by Irving Lerner and produced by the Philadelphia Housing Association, a nonprofit affordable housing advocacy group. The film was designed to call attention to inner city squalor in ...more

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Our Day Our Day is a silent documentary short directed by Wallace Kelly in 1938, about a day in the life of the Kelly family in Lebanon, Kentucky. It starred his mother, wife, brother, pet dog, and Wallace himself. The film countered the contemporary ...more

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To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America Muhammad Yunus "What prevents poor people from getting ahead? Banks refuse to give credit without collateral. Where commercial banks see insolvency, Nobel Prize–winning economist Muhammad Yunus sees opportunity. His groundbreaking Grameen Bank was built ...more

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Music by Prudence Music by Prudence is a 2010 short documentary film directed by Roger Ross Williams. It tells the uplifting story of the now 24-year-old Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Prudence Mabhena, and follows her remarkable transcendence from a world of ...more

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A Place at the Table A Place at the Table is a film directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman released on March 20, 1988.

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The Storm