The Human Rights Video Project is a national library project created to increase the public's awareness of human rights issues through the medium of documentary films. To that end, we have curated a collection of 12 documentary films on human rights issues. The project also encourages collaborations between public libraries and human rights advocacy organizations to present film screenings and discussion programs. The project was developed by National Video Resources in partnership with the American Library Association and Public Programs Office. Major funding provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.


Youth canvasser tries to spread the word about the prison industry to her peers on a basketball court.


Books Not Bars
This short documentary focuses on the growth of the prison industrial complex in the U.S. through the eyes of the youth who are working to reverse the trend. The title refers to the claim that adolescents are four to five times more likely to go to prison than be educated. A great film for high school classroom use, Book Not Bars provides concrete examples of the positive results of activism.

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Complete list of films

Thematic Programing
The Human Rights Video Project provides resources for organizations that wish to create effective discussion programs around human rights issues through documentary film screenings. These five essays suggest how to use the Human Rights Video Collection to present programs on specific human rights issues.

Women’s Rights

Children’s Rights

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

Refugee Rights and Related Issues

Arms, Conflict and International
Humanitarian Law

See Programing Resources for discussion group (list-serve), promotion guide, graphics and press.

Introduction: Because We’re All Global Citizens Now
Globalizing the Local: Towards a Global Understanding In Promoting Human Rights
Talk About Talks: Facilitating Difficult Discussions
Moving Pictures, Moving Mountains: Using Video in Advocacy Campaigns
Sustaining the Public Sphere in Libraries
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