CATEGORIES Features, Hot Topic
The horrific images coming from Haiti after this week's devastating earthquake should give us all more than a moment's pause. Celebrities are rallying to the cause, led by singer Wyclef Jean, who has flown down to his native Haiti. There's talk of a telethon to benefit the victims, one that will draw the likes of George Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

We can all help. You can go to AOL's Network for Good, the White House website dedicated to relief, or you can just text message HAITI to 90999, and you will be donating $10 from your phone bill to the Red Cross.

Lee Daniels, the director of 'Precious,' which promises to be celebrated at this Sunday's Golden Globes awards, has already commented that movies seem unimportant in the shadow of such catastrophe. And although he's correct, media usually provides the filter through which we see worlds far away. You'd think that, with Hollywood's liberal reputation, there'd be a strong record of movies that deal with international humanitarian crises. Alas, you can count the number of good ones with one hand. And you can count the bad ones with the other hand. The horrific images coming from Haiti after this week's devastating earthquake should give us all more than a moment's pause. Celebrities are rallying to the cause, led by singer Wyclef Jean, who has flown down to his native Haiti. There's talk of a telethon to benefit the victims, one that will draw the likes of George Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Ben Stiller, Susan Sarandon, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

We can all help. You can go to AOL's Network for Good, the White House website dedicated to relief, or you can just text message HAITI to 90999, and you will be donating $10 from your phone bill to the Red Cross.

Lee Daniels, the director of 'Precious,' which promises to be celebrated at this Sunday's Golden Globes awards, has already commented that movies seem unimportant in the shadow of such catastrophe. And although he's correct, media usually provides the filter through which we see worlds far away. You'd think that, with Hollywood's liberal reputation, there'd be a strong record of movies that deal with international humanitarian crises. Alas, you can count the number of good ones with one hand. And you can count the bad ones with the other hand.

'The Killing Fields' (1984)
This is the deeply moving and expertly told story of the massacre of millions of people in Cambodia in the 1970s. It tells this sad story by focusing on two journalists, played by Haing S. Ngor and Sam Waterston. The film won three Academy Awards (nominated for seven, including Best Picture), and gave a face to a genocide that had gone largely ignored in the U.S.

'Hotel Rwanda' (2004)
Actor Don Cheadle went to the mat to get this story of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 financed and completed. Cheadle stars as the manager of a hotel who provides safety to hundreds of Tutsi Rwandans who would otherwise have been massacred. This latter day Schindler's List scored three Oscar nominations, and continues to be one of the most watched DVDs on Netflix.

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The Last King of Scotland' (2006)
Forest Whitaker stars as the dictator Idi Amin, and James McAvoy plays his naïve doctor adviser who eventually realizes he works for a tyrant, who is killing scores of his own people. The critical and commercial success also won Whitaker his first Oscar.


'
Beyond the Gates' (2005)
Didn't see it? Neither did most folks. Despite the film's strong pedigree that includes actor John Hurt and director Michael Caton-Jones, this film was dumped from theaters. It also tells the tragic story of Rwanda, and, unlike 'Hotel Rwanda,' was actually shot in that country.

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Blood Diamond' (2006)
Although the humanitarian crisis is not front and center of this film, it's the backdrop for this action-thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. DiCaprio plays a mercenary diamond dealer whose conscience is touched by the atrocities meted out by African warlords during the Sierra Leone Civil War. The movie received five Oscar nominations, and provided increased exposure to the use of child soldiers in Africa.

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Tears of the Sun' (2003)
While 'Blood Diamond' just barely maintains the balance between a good cause and a good action movie, this actioner starring Bruce Willis falls totally flat. 'Tears' takes place during another civil war, this one in Nigeria. Willis plays a Navy SEAL commander who must save a lovely doctor (Monica Belluci) who would rather risk her life to save people threatened by ethnic cleansing. A lot of bullets flew and few awards were won.

'Beyond Borders' (2003)
Bless her heart, Angelina Jolie tried to make international humanitarian work sexy and alluring. It was a nice try, putting her on screen with a love interest played by Clive Owen; she plays a naïve socialite who is won over by his renegade humanitarian doctor. Ms. Jolie certainly won kudos for conscience, but she also nabbed a Razzie nod for bad acting.