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What kind of power can a film have?

Can a film help to make the world a better place and change peoples attiudes? What should such films contain?

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    May 23 2011: What other medium allows 200+ people to sit in a darkened room and have a dream simultaneously streamed into their collective consciousness?

    Film, as the most dynamic of storytelling mediums, can move the masses, to be certain.

    Whether it's for global goodness or not, depends on the filmmaker and their subject/theme.
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      May 24 2011: wow..never thought of t that way Barry..I will never again feel the same when the lights turn down!!!!
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      Jun 10 2011: I'm always disheartened when I'm the one of only a few people in a theatre, especially when it is a wonderful film. There is nothing like being able to discuss a film with everyone as we're leaving the experience.
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      Jun 15 2011: Thank you for leting me see cinema this way : )
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    May 22 2011: Well, my first and most important inspiration to become a vegetarian came from watching the movie, Babe :) It was when I realized the true connection of the pork on my plate and a pig that might have been running around all cute not long ago. It was quite shocking for my naive 8-year-old self :) I couldn't stop thinking of how unfair it was to animals that humans got to decide everything for their own good.

    I don't know if it makes any sense, but it's not that I didn't know that pork was 'pig as food', I just didn't actually realize the cruelty behind it. I think a lot of people can relate. As long as something is labelled as 'food', 'clothes', etc. and you see it all around as the norm, you don't think much about it. It doesn't occur to you to question it.

    I guess that's where movies help play a part. They open up your world and visually bring up issues that you might not have thought about before or were reluctant to confront. The form of presentation is usually entertaining, therefore creating a more comfortable platform for discussion and self-exploration.

    So just to share, I didn't become a vegetarian right after I watched the movie because my parents were afraid I wouldn't get all the necessary nutrients, which is of course understandable. As a kid who still had to rely on my parents' cooking, I didn't have much negotiating power ;) But the thought and belief that it was unfair to animals stayed with me. After going through life a bit and eating everything along the way, one day in my third year of university, I felt it was time. I researched on the web and found out that it was possible to live healthily without meat. The fact that thousands of others were already on the path also helped a lot because I knew I wasn't alone and had nothing to be afraid of. And I have to say, it was the best decision I ever made. I felt myself became 'whole' because my actions and my beliefs were finally in line with one another.

    So that's how a movie changed my life :)
  • Jun 14 2011: Why there is a lot of violence or killings in most of movies, what is interesting in it?

    Here in Afghanistan; I have seen a lot of true violence that human is broken into pieces exactly in most of commercial movies.

    I am requesting movie directors to reduce violence scenes and increase social issues.

    Thank you
    • Jun 15 2011: I totally agree with u. All these shootings, firings and violence scenes look very childish like children playing toys. All these movies had bad impact on the children now and they would act like this in the future, so we know what kind of world we would have, in fact, the chaotic world we now have is the result of the past impact it created i.e there were causes for them to take effect now. Movie directors should be more responsible and make more non-violence movies if they do not want to see more real violence in this world, as movies can create realities in people's mind. Say NO to violence & wars. Bless Earth with Peace & Harmony.
      • Jun 16 2011: Dear Carole

        I agree with you. Film has become as one of most important medium for learning too. Considering the violence scenes, it is harmful teaching.

        I am commenting on violence scenes of films, not entire film.

        Thank you
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    Jun 16 2011: Films with the power to change one's life are scarcer than life-changing books. But books are scarcer in the world today, and film/video is the default - cool - medium. Film can have a potent, if less enduringly deep influence than words you yourself participate in making live. And there are few to no filmmakers recently with anything like the majestic soul of a great novelist.
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    Jun 13 2011: Eilif, what are you doing in that picture? eating a cracker? Just curious. A film can have the power to expound our centrals powers. Power to love, hope, trust, inspire, innovate, invent, reinvent, discover.

    A film can also have the power to strengthen our systems by showing the power of justice, freedom and truth.

    A film can have the power to inject in our sub-conscious minds the vision and power of a just world. This will help our conscious minds to actualize an equitable earth-sustainable happy world.

    This is the key reason why we have top-grosser movies that make lots of money.

    We need more inspiring movies to transform our world. http://bit.ly/ThePowerInfo
  • Jun 1 2011: I truly believe in the power of films.
    As well as a fairy tale story has a deep impact on the children by identifying them with their inner self, but with a propper distance that won`t let anguish overcome them and stop them from reflection (the process, in fact, goes on a more subconscious level), a movie can bring to people`s minds subjects that they might have not been thinking at their own time.
    A good story, told propperly, can make a good trigger for people to question about their own lives and, with it, about everybody`s life. The thing is, the more distant from reality the characters or stories are, the more difficult the identification is. That´s why (in my opininon) nowadays "blockbusters" fail so badly to move people`s thinking, because it´s not only "far, far, away" but also, "far, far, unreal". I´m not saying that is all about documentaries, fiction, fantasy is ok, as long as the bases can be related some how to a real life issue, and to a possible way for human life to face and solve their conflicts or tribulations. There´s where the difference between fairy tales and movies is. For example, for a kid, whose mind thinks in terms of black and white, the "unbreakable hero" is a not only valid but a neccesary figure, to help them build their self confidence and to believe that they can reach really high goals. For an adult, the untouchable hero is a non-possible figure and as such, they just watch, laugh or cry, and go home. Adults are more complex and need to understand that things can be done, INSPITE of the difficulties and flaws that the person have. That most of their problems might be solved, but it won´t be all pink, and they can´t wait for a hero to come and make it work for them.
    Metaphores are fundamental, as I said, to help the reflection go underneath peoples surface and get deeper into them, without scaring them off from the task.
  • sha b

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    May 30 2011: It depends on the film and the audience. Have you seen"The wind that shakes the barley"? After I saw it, I felt really connected to Ireland and it's people, That people (Damien or Sinead) were my kind of hero, nothing like Superman, a character designed to be people's hero.(He never was mine)

    Films can make you see things that have been unknown to you and make you change your mind. There are certain limits for anyone, Like the whole time I was watching Lolita I was thinking with myself, "Is this supposed to get me to sympathize with a child molester? ".
  • May 30 2011: I would definitely not undermine the impact of movies. Some of them have defined a perspective of thinking for many. If we search through the definition of "cult movies", people who like the movie actually adapt to the nature of a certain character of the movie.
    Now when we come around to the point of whether a movie can actually impact a person's attitude or the society as a whole, i would definitely agree. While I was doing my graduation, I was going through the most frustrating period of a teenager. Break-ups, bad score, regular retribution from parents, no close friends, etc to saw a few. You know at such times self-motivation rarely works. A helping hand is what a person wants. After all this is the basic reason why man is a social animal. Anyways, at that point of time, I took a liking to IMDB listed movies and started of with Shawshank Redemption. Today, I can say that a movie from 1993 changed my attitude in 2009. The didactics involved not only mesmerized me, but also kept me thinking a long time. I would be over-modest it if i said I just derived inspiration from it. It made me a more stable person, in a perfect tandem with the real world.
    I wonder how many people share such a feeling, but I do know that its the content and execution that makes a movie stand out. Morgan Freeman's narration was like an idle, passing revery, embossing itself in the mind as it passed. I wonder how my mind would have reacted in case it was someone else.
    The movies which need to make an impact should have a content which is foremost relevant, subsequently unambiguous. Ambiguity just distances the audience, hence hiding the message it associates with itself. Internationally relevant movies like Blood Diamond, Life is beautiful, Boy in stripped pajamas, Schindler's list hit a person with the that such an event is going on/has happened in the world. The content of such movies have commanded attention and awareness in a much larger audience than the actual event itself.
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    May 24 2011: I am very sorry to see that our beloved Jaime has removed the many formative and inspirational comments he made . We allow that in Ted unlike in real life where once a word is spoken it cannot be taken back.It struck me this morning reading over this entire conversation now absent the actual words Jaime spoke that its a little like reported accounts for all time of a visitation from an angel..it is remembered, it.is reefrred to, the impact of it is still present and carried forward but we have only our own reflections of it in us now..not the printed words, to carry these powerful ideas Jaime gave us into our lives and into the next level of this conversation.Jaime's wisdom is still here among us..in us. Only the words are gone..ubuntu at workwhether intentionally or not it reminds me what our process here at Ted is all about. It's not about the fixed words. It's about what we carry forward into our lives, into the wolrld from these "community conversations" What matters is what is in us when we leave..what more we have to bring into our lives as a result of this exchangeI posted this at our conversation on Ego this morning where Jaime also removed all his comments. Her I see the same thing..that his thoughts engaged us and moved us out of where we were when we came to the conversation . So I wanted to post it here as well. A kind of trinute to what he left us with just by being here to engage with us.
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        May 24 2011: I feel the loss deeply whenever someone removes their posts. I feel a sense of failure as part of a community as well that we did not nurture their gifts and insights and person. I hope we can make all voices feel more welcome by our genuine spirit of respect. We never know when a word will crush a spirit.
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          May 24 2011: I would not presume to speak for or judge Jaime..I was only sharing my own sense and the sort of "revelation" I had this morning. I don't think anyone has failed anyone ( did I miss an important event????)

          To me seeing Jaime's refelection in all the conversations from whih comments were removed suddenly spoke to what we are about here..or what I am about here.

          It isn't the words that are left here..its what we take away from here in our hearts, in our growth, inour insights from having been here.
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        May 24 2011: Oops! Another miscommunication on my part.
        I had no intension of implicating you in this. I was just expressing my own thoughts for myself. I like the last paragraph of your statement above and I smile that you and I have changed places somewhat. I started out only caring about the insights and came to love the transcript of them as well.
        I have spoken with Jaime by email and I am sad to see that he is leaving for at least awhile. I was enriched by his insights from the very beginning. He sees to the heart of the matter and tried to coax us all higher - sometimes we had eyes to see what he saw and other times we did not. Sometimes he did not see what we saw.
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          May 24 2011: @ Debra Smith transcript vs, what we take in

          well...it's both isn't it?

          Value of Transcript:

          For those who weren't here withus particpating in the conversation..they only have the transcript and when comments that are referred to or which influenced the flow and unfolding are no ongerthere. those who habe only the transcript don;t have th ewhole picture. ( I am particular on what was actually said..part of my advocacywork,.poured over and used transcripts in a lot of my advocacy work). As yoi know i belive Ted Conerstaions is a very bold social expereiment and I believe the record we build here is very important.

          Value of What we Take In:

          For those of us lucky enoigh to be actually present and engaged in these conversations, all taking place in a great social experiment, what matters isn't the record but what we take away inside us that wasn't there before and how we turn that into some sort of gift for the world.

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        May 24 2011: Lindsay - we are getting more and more often to YES!I would add though that I think the transcript is really useful during the conversation.
        Unlike speaking where the words go invisible into the world, these words have staying power. I often find myself reading someone's perspective, thinking about it for a couple of hours and playing with their ideas and trying them on for size - to respond a couple hours later. I have even gotten up in the middle of the night to respond to a wonderful point where the penny dropped in my dreams!!
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          May 25 2011: I do the same thing.. I can't disagree..I would prefer the conversation be preserved in tact.
    • May 25 2011: i honestly feel like im missing something now. but there are still many opportunities to learn. =)
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        May 26 2011: Can we clarify something for you Chandler? I am sure any one of us would be happy to try.
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    May 23 2011: Interesting question and a good excuse to share my one and only life altering experience with a film ( I'm a huge fan of film but I have had only one life altering encounter with one) As young newly weds, two gorgeous young waspy mainers, porche oustide our Brooklyn Heights borwnstone garden apartment, soaking up NYC like two hungry spongees my husnabd and I went to see a documentray called "Hearts & Minds" (c. 1969????) It contrasted the people of our geberatuon working on civil rights, protesting the war with "us"..people whose lives went on untouched by any of that..we thought we were on top of it because we supported those efforts intellectually, in our values, but our lives didn't include the alinement of values and action, values and will others of our generation had shown with thir choices. It hit us both simutaneously like the proverbial ton of bricks..it was alike a giant slap side the head, waking us both up. We wnadered the streets awhile ..made our way home at first just in stunned silence and then we both just startted telling each other what the film had made clear..that just thinking aboutt supporting it in our vaues and intellect didn't amount to much against the courage of our peers out there on the lines. We both became deeply ashamed and stayed up all night talking about it..we talked about it for days. It didn't take us out to the picket lines and marches but it did sort of awaken and deepen us. I think perhaps it was the seed that lead me to a lfe of activism for social and economic justice ..it lead me to needing to have tgat anement between action, values, and intellect in all my endeavors. It gave me the courage to take risks to do that..to stay enaged spirit in action.

    Stragely the film I have found called Haerts & minds is not the film I saw. I have been curious to trackit down and see it again but haven't been able to find it. .
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      May 23 2011: Lindsay,
      Nice reflection on the impact of a film on your life and your convictions.

      I had the same experience of not being able to find "The shoes of the fisherman' a few years ago. I ended up buying it used on line from ebay I think and I was grateful to see if my memory compared with actuality.
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        May 23 2011: and did it conform withyour memory?and this off topic tidbit about that expereience with hearts & minds..that is just for you ( and which I may bot leave here for posterity)in that intense many days conversation/encounter with that film that my husband & I had..I just this moment realized he wasn't engaged with it in the same way..it was really only my connection and that difference in alinement 7 years later became a divorce ( the world's friendliest most courteous divorce ever but still a divorce). The point being..to track it back to this conversation which i see as similar in some ways to several other discussion here at Ted..that movie was speaking TO ME it was my inner voice saying "ARE YOU LISTENING DO YOU GET THIS?" So perhaps the same with you and your movie..something deep deep within you that catually is you just jumped to attention in response.
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          May 23 2011: Yes, but it has a lot more explanation of relgious teaching in it than I remembered. In fact, I ended up giving my copy away when the last pope died. I gave it to a Catholic friend who did not understand the process of electing a pope and she ended up taking it to a local Catholic school board who organized assemblies around showing the movie.

          To your salient point- YES. I feel deeply that when one of the people who has been on the front lines who has worked in the factory or who has experienced hard things gets the priveledge of gaining an education or a position with a voice they are in a unique place to speak for the people who have not. I know what the corporate policies and tactics do to people and their families, I know what not standing up for human rights one on one leads to. I am lucky enough to speak the language of those with MBAs and still not abdicate what I know and what I have seen. I hear you Lindsay and while I cannot hear exactly where it is telling me to go - I hear its themes and its songs.
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          May 24 2011: I'm currently helping out my local TEDx with social media presence, but as a result have been getting really into its topic of Teaching Compassion. This week I'm looking at compassion in the arts, and I'm very interested in how film, as the art form that can most closely mimic our own experience, is used to help us understand the views of others. There is a deep emotional connection that we form with the characters onscreen that can drive us to laughter or tears, and through this we build up our internal library of human experiences that let us make sense of our lives and the lives of others.

          And every now and then there is a movie that leave us speechless and changes us profoundly. I can't say I've had quite the experience that Lindsey had above, but for me, The Fountain left me in that state of stunned(?) thought and I really need to go back and watch it again (luckily not as hard to find as your movies seem to have been).

          I'd be honoured if you'd join our small but growing community over on the Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/TEDxGoldenGateED ), but I will also point to this discussion from our page over there. And I have to quickly plug the conference itself, which you can learn about here: http://tedxgoldengateed.org
          We're hoping to build an online community whose discussion will mirror that of the conference itself, while continuing year-round.
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    May 22 2011: Yes. I have a friend, Kate Blewett, she makes Documentaries and she has changed the worlds thinking with her work.
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    May 22 2011: Films can be inspiring, educational, serve for diversion and relaxation.. They have many purposes to suit many 'needs', IMO.

    I recently viewed "The Promise", a four part series by Channel 4 (UK), and learned a great deal about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

  • Jun 21 2011: Dear All;

    Last night while comparing the movies of 80s and today, I have found a lot of progress and achievements technologically and realistically, science factiously, and futuristically, the credit goes to all stakeholders of film industry but the direct participants or actors in particular.

    One issue was not satisfying me was the sex scenes of today's movies, It has almost reached the limit of some porn clips; since the movies are watched by different generations; what kind of impact could these scenes have on children and to what further bare level will it reach?

    Thank you all
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    Jun 20 2011: It's funny, I think a film has an instantaneously intense effect, where a book has a less intense and more prolonged effect.
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    Jun 16 2011: Before analyzing what kind of power can a film have on us, we should focus on the types of movies. After that, you'll arrive to a conclusion that circles and unites a simple concept hiding behind every movie. Movies, shorts, films, video clips...etc. usually have an evident impact on the world. Be it on the younger ones or the adults. Take note that people watch movies, because they enjoy it.
    Young girls and boys can be influenced by an actress. This shows us how enormous the impact of movies is. It can not only change our hobbies, but also our cultural choices. Each and every one of us suffers two kinds of socialization. First, by his parents and family during his youngest age till his teen-age/young-adult age and second, by the companies, co-workers and colleagues he/she gets to meet in their careers. And all-along this period, the person watches movies and films. Sometimes, he admires the heros. Other times, he admires their acts. But most of the time, he or she tries to copy and imitate what others do.
    This proves what kind of power can a film have. It can easily change lives. It sometimes incites to reacting on a given event or so. None of us should overlook movies' impact on human beings. It can have a strong and influential power.
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    Jun 16 2011: Film access people's mind... and we all know how powerful mind is.
    Someone once said... to analyze a nation, analyze the movie they watch.
  • Jun 15 2011: Films have a tremendous impact on individuals whether people are aware of it or not. Filmmakers (who are primarily male btw) need to keep in mind the impact their movies might have on people. For example: depicting more ethnic people are committing crimes versus White people. Be more analytical when you're watching films, because there is always an underlying meaning, and it is oftentimes oppressive toward a minority group... Food for thought.
    • Jun 16 2011: A great example of this is in Scream 2 the movie where they actually debate about the same topic on how the movies (stab 2) influenced the murders that were occurring in the movie. (stab 2 a movie with in a movie) Of course its fictional. but its still a good topic to talk about
  • Jun 15 2011: A film can be very powerful. It can make you cry, smile, laugh, and think about what is going on in the world.
  • Jun 15 2011: On one hand I see film as being extremely powerful - a few people may even change their lives because of it, and the knock-on effects could be huge - both positive and negative.

    On the other hand - most people are moved for a short period of time after, but soon 'forget' it and it's theme as they become busy with their own lives.

    If the main theme or story is not refreshed often - it is easy to forget and get caught up in one's own issues. I think films play their part but something else is definately needed to use in conjunction with them, such as quotes referring to the underlying story of the film. Quotes can be on your fridge, by your computer, and in your toilet etc to constantly keep us reflecting on things. There are others of course.

    I both LOVE and HATE film/media, but partly because I know how they are extremely carefully made and constructed they are to make the viewers mind go in the direction the filmmaker wants - especially with documentaries. I for one am actually disheartened as I have seen so so MANY that twist the story and make judgements without actually getting facts. THIS IS DANGEROUS! --- I also seem to be in the minority by not getting sucked in and led down a particular path.

    Films are short events, the biggest influence is from the media - everyday news channels and papers - I honestly believe they control society - and what they can get away with insults me as if they expect me to be sucked in.

    The point is power comes from the people either through money or a vote - and they are being tricked to get it.

    Tell me: What would you rather protect and give money towards? What sways your feelings more?
    The ant or the orang-u-tan?
    A mean looking male with hiv, or a cute baby with hiv?
    Your leader's words, or the conflicting words of a foreign leader?

    My answer to your question is that film should contain the TRUTH - however hard it might be to swallow. We are sheltered and so far removed in the West!
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    Jun 15 2011: Movie starts... LONELY FLOWER
    Scene1. A Toddler is outside a home alone, looking at morning sun
    Scene2. Thirsty kid start to cry, the sun reflects his eye
    Scene3. A man rushes to the kid and give him a bottle of water
    Scene4.The man was a movie director, taken the kids story to the silver screen
    Scene5.The director gets his best film award
    Scene 6.lot of kids in poverty in many part of the world
    Scene7.One of the kid grows up as a super man
    Scene8.still lots of kids are hungry
    Scene9.the first scene again.Todler is outside home again crying alone
    End of the movie
    Movies should show life’s black and white stories in good colors without prejudices
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    Jun 15 2011: One vital key to making our world a place where all people can prosper in peace and joyous harmony is communication. The language of motion pictures is powerful because it requires less energy and knowledge to read than text. Masses of people can understand moving image stories - yet be unable to express themselves in this medium. So the communication tends to be one sided. The rhetorical power of this language still rests in hands of the few. This concentration of power is dangerous and leads to many abuses. That's why the language of motion pictures must be learned by ordinary people all over our world with the same systematic seriousness spoken and written language is learned. The language of motion pictures, like music, has the potential for being a universal language. That is the promise. But this power must be shared more widely and equitably. Thankfully, with affordable accessible video technology, this is beginning to happen more and more. I am optimistic.
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    Jun 14 2011: Actually, I'm interested at Citizen Kane. It's about critics to big media houses with the power to shape public opinion. I haven't watch it, but a friend told me that the film would cause major havoc to major medias so they use their power to gave the film bad reviews, and even tried to buy the masters of the film so that the film wouldn't be released.

    In my opinion, a single film wouldn't make a big difference, but many films will do.
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    Jun 14 2011: Very important in opinion making and in opinion changing. Cinema has the power to affect many minds and lives. One can learn a lot from different types of movies. They are not only meant for entertainment but also to learn. They make us laugh and make us cry.
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    May 31 2011: I watched a short film a week ago that made me laugh more than I've laughed in a year (Bear by Nash Edgarton). I really needed it, too... since then, I've felt a bit happier and quite enjoy reflecting upon it. Crazy, silly, hilarious. It provided a little escape from reality and I had no idea what to expect, so was pleasantly surprised.

    Recently I watched Black Gold and have started buying ONLY fair trade coffee. You'd think it's a no-brainer, but it actually takes some effort for a daily coffee drinker (such as myself) to ask the barista at every cafe whether their beans are fair trade. I've sourced reasonably priced - and delicious - fair trade organic beans at my local store, too.

    Film is a magnificent medium for not only sharing a message, but initiating engagement through understanding.
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    Tero -

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    May 30 2011: They can have a large impact on individuals, which then trickles down to society. Unfortunately, it is decided for us what gets into the movie theatres and what gets the good reviews.. so, in this sense, I believe that many films will actually have no impact or even a bad impact (rather than good, which is what we want). I am in anger over all the new movies that are mainly reflecting a large chunk of what 'society' has manufactured to be lately: lots of glitter and effects, but no real content.

    On the other hand, the best movies can cause people to think about their actions more carefully, inspire change and intellectual discussion. It's the best of feelings when you walk out of the theatre and actually want to discuss the impact the movie had on you. I personally try to go back to the movies that inspired thinking, or to those where the story and directing was truly artistic.

    Lately, I haven't been very impressed with a lot of the movies I've seen, though.. and I'm afraid that it may have the same fate as music. Lots of popular crap and the gems are hard to find, or very few and far apart.

    Lets hope not.
    • May 31 2011: Tero
      I believe you are right about what make a movie good. I also think that yes, many of the movies we have available are only for the glitter.

      I would say however, that entertainment is a valid use of film. Sometimes frankly I may go for the entertainment, and be pleasantly surprised to see some thought in the movie. It comes in all forms!

      The power of Money is a problem however.
  • May 29 2011: I think that movies plays a great role in character building...But as far as attitude is concerned,i don't think that movies much effect it,although it may bound people to think over for sometime.