Must-See Shows/Movies for Self-Growth

I know, I know, this is the most stereotypical blog-post you can think of, besides (baking) recipes. And we’ve already done the mandatory post about baking-related things. But this one is really more self-development and -realisation inclined than your standard “yo watch this Netflix show, it’s DOPE”-post

There’s a lot of ideas regarding how movies and tv-shows can be regarded and viewed as art, and how it can help you come to terms with past trauma, explore yourself and social situations, and how the creators often use it not only for entertainment purposes but also for satirising or teaching their audiences something valuable. Today, we’re talking about the last part, and I’m here to give you some suggestions to expand your horizons and flex your emotional understanding of life and people.
Worst case scenario, it’s something entertaining while in the last phases of the lock-down.

  1. Sense8.
    It’s good. Like, really good. The storyline is fantasy mixed with reality in a way that surpasses Zombie-apocalypse productions. Imagine waking up one day after a splitting headache, and being able to see and hear 6 other people from different places in the world. Imagine you have an intense connection with them, so you can share each other’s knowledge, emotions, sensations, everything. Your brains are connected. You can have conversations with these people. Different cultures, different languages, different experiences and abilities, all wrapped into one communal brain that can act separately but also together whenever necessary or wanted. There’s action, suspense, comfort, romance – it’s basically life-like but so far and yet so close to your own life experiences, it’s going to blow your mind. Really.

2. Wit.
Emma Thompson, a chameleon when it comes to roles, plays a professor of Philosophy who’s diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer. The movie follows her throughout the discovery, the experimental treatment, and how either affect her mentally and physically. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a family member going through cancer(-treatment) or not. It doesn’t matter whether you fear you might be in that position one day or not. Whether you think life might end some day, or you will live forever. This is not a movie you will forget soon, and it will make you think in ways you haven’t thought of before.

3. Unorthodox
It’s only 4 episodes of 55 minutes each, and it is an eye-opener into feeling trapped, feeling different, and wanting to break free. It’s realistic (half-autobiographic), it’s disturbing, it’s artistic, and I’m running out of words to describe how I felt watching it. The topics of privilege, sexism, racism, antisemitism, and psychological cages (dare I say torture in a way? probably too far) are depicted so … captivatingly. I’m really trying to find words to describe how insanely good this half-fictional show, half-documentary is, but I’m stuck.
It’s just incredibly mind-boggling.

4. A Film Unfinished
It’s a compilation of unedited historic footage taken by Nazi filmmakers, and makes for an unsettling Holocaust documentary. It eerily shows how Nazi’s manipulated information and communal ideas about life in Warsaw back in the late 30’s and early 40’s. This documentary reveals the tremendous power of media and the dangers of propaganda even back then when it was all new to share information around whole countries and even the world. Does it have a connection to the now? Maybe not the pandemic-now, but certainly multiple pre-pandemic elections come to mind…

5. Bowling for Columbine
I get it. Another documentary about High School shootings. Another Michael Moore “piece of art”. I really get it, ok? But please look past it. After reading “Give a Boy a Gun” in High School, we watched this documentary. If I thought the book was frustrating and absolutely devastating, the documentary about the real massacre was going to take that up a notch.
Don’t take down someone’s mental health and self-confidence for the sheer sake of “it builds character!” or “if he’s tough/a real man/not a pussy, he would take it and deal with it”. No. Not everyone’s tough. No one is always tough. People who pretend to be 100% tough are the ones who break others’ backs to keep up the facade. Learn to be kind. If nothing else, learn to be kinder from this. Also think about how useful weapons are in our societies, really.

6. American History X
Along the line of the two previous suggestions, American History X is confronting, disgusting, horrifying – for good reasons. Let this movie radicalise you into seeing that yes, people can change for good, but also yes, representation and indoctrination, examples set by the people we grow up with and trust and love – it can mean everything.

7. When They See Us
Racism is not dead. It wasn’t ever dead and while we’ve made great strides and come far, it’s not dead yet. Racism is pervasive throughout media, work life, private life, the courtroom (justice is not yet blind, at least not colour-blind). It’s confronting, it makes you feel very awkward, but it’s necessary to see. 5 innocent men were convicted of a horrible crime they didn’t commit, because they aren’t white and live in the USA. Give it a watch and tell me this society is a great place for everyone.

8. A Secret Love
Similar to how the Central Park Five shows how what we now call an inclusive society took a long long time to acquire (if we’re there yet). It follows the life and love story of a prominent female Baseball player, her LGBTQ+ sexuality, and thereby life and love story. It shows how LGBTQ+ and Women’s rights have changed since the end of the second World War, and how narrowed your thinking is if you don’t understand how “love is love”, no matter the gender. It is heartbreaking and heart-healing, and it is important to watch at least once so you can feel like there’s more to the world than what you thought.

For now, i’ll keep it to this list. There’s a lot more of course, but if you’re still with me until the end of this post, leave us a comment or like so I know you want to get more suggestions. Be safe out there, and be kind!

Published by thepangaeablog

We're the staff of Pangaea, the Intercultural Meeting Centre of the KU Leuven in Leuven, Belgium! Welcome to our blog where we aim to inform you of all we are doing, have planned, and keep you connected with what has happened lately!

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