Filmography: A Short Intro Guide to Sociology and Film

Filmography: A Short Guide to Sociology and Film


We live in a mediated world saturated with film and video; and most films suggest ideas about the society we live in. Films provide a good resource for sociology.

Look at Jean-Anne Sutherland & Kathryn Feltey Cinematic Sociology: Social Life in Film (2nd ed, 2012) Pine Forge Press, which shows how to use contemporary films to develop the sociological imagination and provides an excellent filmography by theme.
See also:
Damian Cox & Michael P Levine (2012) Thinking Through Film. Wiley-Blackwell

Wanda Teays (2012) Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics Through Movies. Wiley Blackwell

Roberta Secret (2012) World Affairs in Foreign Films.  McFarland

Norman K Denzin (1995) The Cinematic Society: The Voyeur’s Gaze. Sage

A very valuable book to help you make sense of film is: James Monaco How To Read a Film (2008) 4th edition.
See also:

Sociology goes to the Movies

The Sociological Cinema at

The Sociological Cinema is edited and published by Valerie Chepp, Paul Dean, and Lester Andrist, a team of three public sociologists. “As graduate student colleagues and close friends in the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland, we launched this site in September 2010 as a way to facilitate using popular culture and video to teach and learn about sociology”.

Sociology through Documentary Film

2: FILMS MENTIONED IN THE BOOK, 3rd edition (updated)

Below is a list/index of films mentioned in this book with page indicated where it is mentioned:

Amazing Grace (2006) dir Michael Apted, p190

Amisted (1997) dir Stephen Spielberg, p190

Beloved (1998) dir Jonathan Dumme by Toni Morrison p 142

Citizen Four (2015) dir Laura Poitras p 74

City of God (2002) dir Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund, p66

Fire at Sea (2016) dir Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund p 65

The Fourth World (2011) dir Mark Volkers, p 66

Groundhog Day (1993) dir Harold Ramis, p 130

Human Flow (2017) dir Ai Wieweit , p 191

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) James Baldwin dir Raoul Peck, p190

I, Daniel Blake (2017) dir Ken Loach, p183

Life in a Day (2011) dir Ken McDonald p228
(second version accessible on You Tube,for  2021)

Love Actually (2011) dir Richard Curtis, p10
The Lives of Others (2006) dir Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, p79

Metropolis (1927) Fritz Lang, p43

Modern Times (1936) dir Charles Chaplin, p 43

Q2P (2006) dir Paromita Vohra, p 14

Rashomon (1950) dir Akira Kurosawa p174

The Salt of the Earth (Sebastião Salgado) (2014) dir Wim Wenders p188

Sliding Doors (1998) dir Peter Howitt, p146.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) dir Danny Boyle, p66

Stranger than Fiction (2006) dir Marc Foster, p130

Snowden (2016) dir p74

The Stuart Hall Project (2014) dir John Akomfrah p 241

The Truman Show (1998) dir Peter Weir p79

Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach (2016) dir Louise Osmond, p227

Where to Invade Next (2015) dir Michael Moore

12 Years a Slave (2011) dir Steve McQueen p190

see also his five part BBC series in 2021, Small Axe(2021)


Generally, see:

Roberta Secret (2012) World Affairs in Foreign Films.  McFarland

One important entrance to global sociology is to watch and analyse films from distinctively different cultures.

Katarzyna Marciniak & Bruce Bennett (2016) Teaching Transnational Cinema: Politics and Cinema, Routledge

Here is a select listing to get you going:

Afghanistan, Osama (2003) Siddiq Barmak

Argentina, Wild Tales, Damián Szifrón, director

Chile, Nostalgia for the Light, Dir Patricia Guzman

China, Beijing Bicycle (2002) Wang Xiaoshuai

Estonia, Tangerines, Zaza Urushadze, director

Georgia, Corn Island, George Ovashvili, director

India, Water (2005) Deepa Mehta, director

Japan, (2009) Tokyo Sonata Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Mexico (2018) Roma dir Alfonso Cuaron

Mauritania, Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako, director

Netherlands, Accused, Paula van der Oest, director

Poland, Ida, Paweł Pawlikowski, director

Russia, Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev, director

Rwanda (2004) Hotel Rwanda Terry George

South Africa (2005) Tsotsi Gavin Hood

South Korea (2019) Parasite dir Bong Joon-ho

Turkey/German ( 2007) The Edge of Heaven dir Faith Akim

Sweden, Force Majeure, Ruben Östlund, director

Uganda: (2007)War Dance, Sean Fine, Andres Nix Fine

Venezuela, The Liberator, Alberto Arvelo, director

For some classic books on the role of cross-cultural global film and ethnography, see:
David MacDougall, Transcultural Cinema (1998)
Jay Ruby: Picturing Culture: Explorations in Film and Ethnography (2000)


This is a list of popular films of sociological interest – there are thousands more! You can probe more on

The Internet Movie Database:

About People

The Stuart Hall Project, dir John Akomfrah, 2013

He Named me Malala dir Davis Guggenheim, 2015

Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach, dir Louise Osmond, 2016

Hannah Arendt, dir Margarethe von Trotta , 2013

Alzheimer’s/ Dementia

Iris, dir Richard Eyre, 2002
Away from her, dir Sarah Polley, 2007

The Father, dir Florian Zeller, 2021

Bodies and Cyborgs

The Art of Killing, dir Joshua Openheimer, 2012

The Fly, David Cronenberg, 1986

Frankenstein. James Whale, 1931

Terminator, James Cameron, 1984

Capitalism: see economics

Crime and violence

There is a chronological list of crime films, organized by decade on Wikipedai at:

Top 25 Crime films of all time? For one list, see:

See also:
Nicole Rafer & Michelle Brown Criminology goes to the Movies (2011) NYU Press

A few classics:

M, Fritz Lang, 1931

Twelve Angry Men, Sydney Lumet, 1957

Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino, 1992

The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, 1972

Goodfellas, Martin Scorcese, 1990


See Working Class cinema at

Harlan County USA, Barbara Kopple, 1976
Blue Collar, Paul Schrader, 1978
This is England, Shane Meadows, 2002
I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach, 2016
Hillbilly Elegy, Ron Howard, 2020

See also:
Titanic, James Cameron, 1997
Gosford Park , Robert Altman, 2001


Two wide ranging list of films about disability can be found at:

The Elephant Man, David Lynch, 1980

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanegan Supermasochist, Kirby Dick,1997

Inside I’m Dancing, Damien O’Donnell, 2004.

Murderball Henry, Alex Rubin, 2005.

The Diving bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel 2007

The Best of Men, Tim Whitby, 2012


50 Documentary films you need to see:

Documentary Films


Popular films about the city: see

Some classics are:

Nanook of the North, Robert J. Flaherty, 1922

Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore, 2002

Freaks, Tod Browning, 1932

Capturing the Friedmans (2003) dir Andrew Jarecki, p 224

Drug use
Classics include:
Reefer Madness, Louis J. Gasnier, 1936
Trainspotting, Danny Boyle, 1996
Traffic, Steven Soderbergh, 2000

See a longer listing at:

Dying and Bereavement

Shadowlands, Richard Attenborough, 1993

Away from Her, Sarah Polley, 2007

A Single Man, Tom Ford , 2009


Films on the 2008 Financial Crash include:

Inside Job (2010) dir Charles Ferguson

Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) dir Michael Moore

Too Big To Fail (2011) dir Curtis Hanson

The Flaw (2010) dir David Sinton

As well as

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) dir Alex Ribney


Kes, Ken Loach, 1969

If.., Lindsay Anderson, 1968

Dead Poet’s Society, Peter Weir, 1989

The History Boys, Nicholas Hytner, 2006

The Class, Laurent Cantent 2008


There are several listings of environmental films: see

For Documentary Films on the environment, see:

For fiction films on the environment, see:

Top Ten Environmental films of all time

15 Green Movies

A classic documentary is

Al Gore An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

See also:
Erin Brockovitch, Steven Soderbergh, 2000
Human Flow, Ai Weiwei, 2017

Everyday interaction
Being There, Hal Ashby, 1979

Zelig, Woody Allen, 1983

Groundhog Day, Harold Ramis, 1993

Stranger than Fiction, Marc Foster (2006)

Family life

Life is Sweet, Mike Leigh, 1990

In the Bedroom, Todd Field, 2001

American Beauty, Sam Mendes, 1999

Little Miss Sunshine, Valerie Faris , 2006

The Kids are Alright , Lisa Cholodenko 2010

Gay: see Queer, Gender

Gender and Feminism

10 Movies about gender, sexism and equality
10 films that pioneered the way

15 best recent (2015) feminist films

The Celluloid Closet, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 1995

Fabulous, The story of Queer Cinema, Lisa Ades , 2006

Stand by Me, Rob Reiner, 1986

Thelma and Louise, Ridley Scott, 1991

Boys don’t cry, Kimberley Pierce, 1999

Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee, 2005


The Pianist, Roman Polanski, 2002

Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg, 1993

Music: A musical view of society

The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming, 1939

West Side Story, Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, 1961
(see also new version, released Christmas 2021)

Fiddler on a Roof, dir Norman Jewison, 1971

Cabaret, Bob Fosse, 1972

Saturday Night Fever, dir John Badham, 1977

Chicago, Rob Marshall, 2002

Sweeney Todd, Tim Burton, 2007

La La Land, Damien Chazelle, 2016

Everybody’s Talking About Jaimie, 2021 dir Jonathan Butterell

Queer: see also Gender and Feminism

 See The British Film Institute List of Top 30 LGBTQ films: at

I would add:

Pride, 2014 dir Matthew Marcus

It’s a Sin, 2021, dir Russell T Davies

Hating Peter Tatchell, 2021 dir Christopher Amos

Race and racism

Two Lists of Major Films about Race



Classics include:

I am not Your Negro die Raoul Peck , 2017

To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan, 1962

The Long Walk Home, Richard Pearce, 1990

Crash, Paul Haggis, 2004

Malcolm X, Spike Lee, 1992

Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee, 1989

Mississippi Burning, Alan Parker, 1988

Refugees and Migration

A list of films (72 of them )about immigrants and migration can be found at:

See also:

Brooklyn, dir John Crowley, 2015
Fire at Sea, dir Gianfranco Rosi, 2016


Brief Encounters, David Lean, 1945

A Streetcar named desire, Elia Kazan, 1951

Fear Eats the Soul, Rainer Wernder Fassbinder, 1974

Annie Hall, Woody Allen, 1977

When Harry met Sally, Rob Reiner, 1989

The Human Stain, Robert Benton, 2003


The Grapes of Wrath, John Ford, 1940

Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of wooden clogs , 1978

Angela’s Ashes, Alan Parker, 1999

Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach, 2019

Religious bigotry

Inherit the Wind, Stanley Kramer, 1960

Elmer Gantry, Richard Brooks, 1960

Futures? Science fiction

Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927

2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968

Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, 1982

Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis, 1985

The Matrix, Andy and Larry Wachowski, 1999

Slavery & total institutions

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Milos Forman, 1975

Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen, 1981

The Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont, 1994

Amistad, Stephen Spielberg , 1997


Hoop Dreams, Steve James, 1994

Remember the Titans, Boaz Yakin, 2000

Bend It Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha, 2002

The Fan, Tony Scott, 1996

There are several substantial listings of ‘surveillance films’: see

Classic films are:
1984 – there are two versions:
Gattaca (2007)
Minority Report (2002)
The Net (1995)

The Lives of Others (2006)

The Truman Show (1998)

V for Vendeatta dir James McTeigue


Films on 9/11
For a listing see:

Paradise Now (2005) Hany Abu-Assad
The Battle for Algiers, 1966 Gillo Potecorvo

Munich (205) Steven Spielberg

United 93 ( (2006) Paul Greengrass

Urban life and Community- the Classics
Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder, 1950

On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan, 1954

Taxi Driver, Martin Scorcese, 1976

Manhattan, Woody Allen, 1979

Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders, 1984

Blue Velvet, David Lynch, 1986

Tokyo Story, Yasujiro Ozu, 1953

Utopias /Dystoppias

Things to come (1936)
The Time Machine (1960)
Children of Men dir Alfonos Cuaron

Youth cultures

Rebel without a cause, Nicholas Ray, 1955

Les Quatre Cent Coups, François Truffaut, 1959

A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick, 1971

Saturday Night Fever, John Badham, 1977

Gregory’s Girl, Bill Forsyth, 1981

Samson and Deliah, Warwick Thorton, 2010


All Quiet on the Western Front

The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino, 1978

Saving Private Ryan, Stephen Spielberg, 1998


Kandahar (2001) dir Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Osama (2003) dir Siddiq Barmak

The Kite Runner (2007) dir Marc Foster

United 93 (2006) Paul Greengrass

World Trade Center (2006) dir Oliver Stone


The White Tiger, dir Ramin Bahrani, 2021

For other examples of sociological theory applied to Hollywood film clips, see these examples:

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