“We are going to get through this" is not just a slogan, but a profound lesson history teaches us again and again. From slavery to World Wars, what survives is man's capacity for hope and his desire to help others. In difficult times, certain men and women rise up to become beacons for us all, illuminating a path forward and uniting people together in a common goal. We pay tribute to those heroes by showcasing four films whose true stories remind us all of the indomitable human spirit.
Harriet | We will overcome
The story of Harriet Tubman recounted in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet is a remarkable example of how one woman’s courage and perseverance changed history. Born into slavery, Harriet (Cynthia Erivo) grew up in a time where the very idea of freedom was an impossible dream. After escaping and becoming a free woman up North, Harriet refused to turn her back on others still trapped by the system of slavery. She returned again and again to the South as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. For Erivo, “I want people to know that she put her life on the line… for no other reason than she didn’t believe that it could be possible any other way.” Harriet shows us how Tubman's belief that the tragedy of slavery could—and would—be overcome, changed everything. For The Guardian, “Lemmons’ achievement is to tell a story that does not accept slavery as a tragic and immutable fact, and to dramatize the people who took action against it.”
Darkest Hour | "We shall fight"
In the spring of 1940, England was facing a challenge like it had never seen before. Nazi forces had swept through France and were now threatening an assault on Britain. Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour captures this extraordinary time by dramatising how Winston Churchill (played by Gary Oldman in an Academy Award® winning performance) rose up to lead his nation through darkness and into hope. Appointed to become Prime Minister at a time when citizens were enduring food shortages and air raids, the Parliament was fractured, and the remaining British forces were trapped at Calais and Dunkirk, Churchill used his words and force of will to give the British people want they needed most—hope. Taking on the radio, Churchill rallied his country with the inspiring promise, "We shall fight." "As a portrait of leadership at its most brilliant, thoughtful and morally courageous," notes The Washington Post, Darkest Hour is the movie we need right now.”
Loving | We all matter
In 1958, when Richard and Mildred Loving were rousted out of bed and arrested by Virginia sheriffs for breaking the state’s anti-miscegenation laws, their couple’s hope of building a life together in the land grew up seemed nearly impossible. In Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga bring to life the quiet grace and continued resolve of this mixed-raced couple that made history. After years of being barred from returning to their hometown in Virginia, the couple allowed the ACLU to bring their case before the Supreme Court, eventually resulting in the landmark 1967 decision striking down all laws banning mixed-race marriages. While the Lovings are often remembered for the political change their case initiated, the film's writer and director was inspired by their example of how people endure through hard times with dignity and determination. "What Richard and Mildred show us is the humanity at the center of it," explains Nichols.
The Zookeeper’s Wife | We'll find a way
Based on Diane Ackerman's bestselling book, Niki Caro’s The Zookeepers’ Wife brings to the screen one of the most remarkable and inspiring stories to emerge out of one of our darkest periods. In 1939, after Nazi bombings on Poland forced the city’s zoo to empty their cages, the zookeeper Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) and his wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain) came up with a scheme to use the empty cages to house Jews who have escaped from the Warsaw ghetto. For seven years, Atonina outmaneuvered Nazi interference and kept the zoo open as a sancturary of hope. “We’ve had many films that focus on the darkness and the violence and murder, but we’ve never had a film that focuses on the light and the goodness in people during the time of war,” acclaims Chastain.
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