For the first time in a long time, the world feels promising. This insane roller-coaster of a year is finally coming to an end, we have a new president, a COVID-19 vaccine is on the horizon—everything just feels rife with possibility. If you have that exhilarating, energizing, “anything can happen” feeling in your guts right now, embrace it, lean into it, and let’s ride this wave of optimism. In celebration of our collective elation, we’re highlighting nine stories that evoke the same feeling of hope and promise. Check them out, get inspired, and soak in this joyful moment.
Get to know the true story of a real-life hero who you’ve never heard of. In 1973, during General Augusto Pinochet’s bloody military coup in Chile, which killed 3,000 Chileans and captured tens of thousands more, Finnish diplomat Tapani Brotherus defied his own government to help transport almost 200 Chilean refugees to Finland and nearly 2,000 to East Germany. It’s about time the world knew his name, his story, and recognized that there is unimaginable power behind every individual. He is proof that one man can make a world of difference.
This is the story of how the oppressed became the conquerors on the cricket field. In the mid-1970s, after a brutal loss to Australia, the West Indies assembled one of the most formidable teams in sporting history. Long regarded condescendingly as “calypso cricketers,” the team took a sport that the English aristocracy introduced to Caribbean nations as a symbol of colonial rule and completely dominated it. Through observing the team’s meteoric rise and enduring rule over 15 years, the film explores not only the politics of cricket but also the politics of colonialism and the Black Power movement of the ‘70s.
He might be a fake guru, but there’s nothing fake about the profound impact he had on his followers. Jaded by the overcrowded world of spiritual leaders, filmmaker Vikram Gandhi decided to test a theory: there’s nothing special about them and anyone can, essentially, be a guru...so he became one. What he didn’t foresee was amassing real followers who would dedicate themselves to his made-up teachings. In constructing the biggest lie of his life, Gandhi ends up teaching—and learning—the greatest truth: being a guru is what you make it.
Your dream life is out there—you just have to go get it. Set in 1970s Milan, this colorful series follows 20-something Irene, whose parents and boyfriend expect her to be a housewife committed to domesticity, but she refuses to accept a life that others expect her to live. Instead, Irene takes a job at a top fashion magazine, where she picks the brains of some of Italy’s most iconic (real-life) designers and comes into her own during a time when women were starting to get tired of being told what to do, who to marry, and how to dress.
What would you do if you were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime? In 1969, the small, insular fishing town of Stavanger, Norway discovers something huge: oil. For a town on the brink of destitution, this is both life-changing and nation-changing. The series follows a group of interconnected individuals caught in the middle as they confront their own fates at a major turning point for their nation. Can they break free of their circumstances and play a part in shaping modern Norway? The series not only sees the main characters take hold of their destinies, but presents a whole new world of possibilities for Norway’s future generations.
When most people run from danger, these brave men run right into the thick of it. A 2018 Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature, “Last Men in Aleppo” follows the courageous, death-defying efforts of the White Helmets, an organization of ordinary citizens who are the first to rush to attack zones in hopes of saving lives. Set against the hauntingly beautiful backdrop of Syria, the doc focuses on three of the organization’s founders—Kaled, Subhi, and Mahmoud—as they struggle with the constant debate between fighting for their country and fleeing to safety.
There are few films that make you believe with unequivocal conviction that nothing is impossible, and this is one of them. An awe-inspiring story of friendship and perseverance, the documentary follows four British women, nicknamed the “Coxless Crew,” as they set out to do the unthinkable: row 8,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean from California to Australia unsupported. Over the course of their nine-month journey, the women have to overcome unfathomable physical and mental challenges that threaten to break them. Think about that the next time you need motivation to work out.
Sometimes the traditional way is not always the best way. In this semi-fictional, tragicomic film, a small and stubborn Bulgarian village has been resisting foreign invaders for centuries, but as it continues to see economic and demographic decline, one man decides to shake things up. As mayoral elections approach, the local postman decides to run and proposes welcoming in Syrian refugees to bring some life back into the village. A microcosm of the Syrian refugee crisis, the film offers a lighthearted, hopeful, and totally unique perspective on a globally significant issue.
Is revolution possible? This film answers with a resounding “yes!” Feeling alienated from their community of elites, nine Yale graduate students decided to form a black resistance reading group to study the African diaspora’s fight against racism. Their discussions inspired them to take a field trip to Cuba to search for evidence of modern black communities fighting for racial equality. What they witness in the streets of Havana and Santiago de Cuba confirms that revolution is indeed possible. The film’s director, and one of the nine travelers, Dr. Robin J. Hayes encourages anyone with an interest in the history of the African diaspora to visit Cuba for themselves. You never know what kind of revolution it might inspire for you.