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Streaming Video Guides

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

Political Science Documentaries and Feature Films

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.


Accidental Anarchist

This is the remarkable story of how Carne Ross, once a leading UK diplomat, became an anarchist. Rebelling against the establishment, he discovers a new form of politics, so relevant for these turbulent times. From America to Europe to war-torn Syria, he reveals how anarchist ideas of self-government and equality are being put into action across the world. 

The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing

A look behind the scenes in the Bush White House, a few months after 9/11.

The Business of Disaster

FRONTLINE and NPR investigate the question of who profits when disaster strikes, focusing on the insurance companies that profited in the wake of the Superstorm Sandy and the government agencies that were supposed to help people rebuild. This eye-opening documentary raises troubling questions about whether the government—and the communities it serves—are prepared for the next big storm. 

The Elected: Presidency and Congress

In an adversarial climate of polarization and power confrontations, how can the U.S. government get anything done? In part one of this program, correspondent Hedrick Smith examines the obstacles to bipartisan compromise between the Clinton administration and Congress as well as the difficulties parties have in disciplining their own members in Congress. In part two, Mr. Smith probes the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution in Congress. Smith goes behind the scenes to get Vice President Gore; Clinton executives Leon Panetta and George Stephanopoulos; Congressional leaders Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dick Gephardt, and Tom Daschle; Democratic loyalists and rebels; Republican freshmen and incumbents; and academic experts to divulge how serious miscalculations torpedoed hopes for both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Enemy of the State

What is the impact of the web on global politics? Free information collected through social networks is being used a weapon in the battle between the individual and the authority across the world. 

I Am Cuba 

Four main stories show the rise of the Cuban revolution, the poverty and slums in Battista's Havana, and the oppression of the Cuban people.

In the Name of Liberation: Freedom by Any Means

This program analyzes terrorism used in the name of national liberation through studies of covert wars for independence in British Palestine, British Malaya, French Algeria, apartheid South Africa, and Northern Ireland. Bruce Hoffman, co-author of Countering the New Terrorism, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu offer their insights, while former Irgun commander Shraga Alis; former Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng; former FLN commander Yacef Saadi; Milk Bar Cafe bomber Zohra Drif; retired French military officers Paul Aussaresses and Pierre-Alban Thomas; former ANC bomber Robert McBride; and former IRA member Patrick Magee-the Brighton Bomber-reflect on the parts they played in terror and counter-terror actions.

Inside the White House: The Garden

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden during World War II. This new garden was planted in the Spring of 2009 with the help of local elementary school children and has yielded a constant supply of fresh produce for the First Family and White House guests. 

The Interrupters

The Interrupters follows three individuals who with bravado, humility, and even humor, work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this is an intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities.  

John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon Debate

In this October 7, 1960 ABC debate, presidential candidates Senator John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon answer press questions about their positions on Cold War defense strategies, building the U.S. economy, implementing Civil Rights legislation, and increasing American global power and prestige.

Ken Burns: The Roosevelts, An Intimate History

This 7-part, 14 hour series chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. The series follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore's birth in 1858 to Eleanor's death in 1962.

Episode 1

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Kim-Il Sun

This episode of The Dictator's Playbook examines the rise and reign of North Korea's Kim Il-Sung. See how he created an unshakeable cult of personality and a dictatorship that has spanned three generations. 

Let's Get Frank

Let's Get Frank is the story of one of America’s most well-loved and outspoken politicians. It’s also a hilarious and insightful movie about modern politics, gay life, and political hypocrisy. Filmmaker Bart Everly spent 24 months following Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of the nation’s few openly gay politicians. With unlimited access both to his professional and personal life, Everly captured Frank doing what he does best - being frank. From Capitol Hill to Fire Island, Frank’s sharp wit, outspoken views, and down home understanding of politics have made him popular and respected on both sides of the political fence. After surviving his own sex scandal, Frank became one of President Clinton’s staunchest and most effective defenders. 

The Marxists

Karl Marx’s revolutionary ideas literally changed the world. His far-reaching analyses and theories have inspired millions of people to become politically active. After the collapse of many socialist regimes, Marx’s popularity waned, but the financial crisis of 2008 has caused a re-emergence of his ideas. On the 200th anniversary of his birth, this documentary explores changes and developments in society today that find their roots in Marx’s thinking. From the Russian Revolution, the founding of the German Socialist Party, the long trek of Mao Zedong in China, the implementation of socialism in Eastern Europe after World War II to the revolutionary movements in Latin America and Cuba, Karl Marx may have been the most influential thinker of all time. 

Meeting Snowden

As a former CIA and NSA collaborator, Edward Snowden leaked the biggest mass surveillance scandal of the century. A secret meeting between him and global freedom and civil rights campaigners, Birgitta Jonsdottir and Larry Lessig turns into a freewheeling discussion about the future of democracy. Russian hints that the country could hand over America's most wanted whistle blower as a favor to Donald Trump place Snowden in even greater danger than before. Jonsdottir is a member of Iceland’s parliament; all her actions have been aimed at giving the people their voice back and opening up the parliamentary process and political decision-making. Lessig is a Harvard law professor. He tirelessly denounces the influence of money in US politics and the way establishment elites collude to support each other against the public interest. The three activists agreed to be filmed during an extraordinary conversation about their ongoing struggles.

A More Perfect Union

Sagal explores the Constitution's most striking and innovative feature: its resilient brand of federalism. The framers created a strong national government while preserving much of the power and independence of the states. This delicate balance of power, seemingly hard-wired for disagreement and conflict, has served America well for more than two centuries. But it has also led to tensions throughout American history and still sparks controversy today over medical marijuana, gun control and "Obamacare."

The Mueller Investigation

The Mueller Investigation chronicles the dramatic events that led the White House and the nation to this historic moment in American politics.  PBS documentary.


No! provides a comprehensive lens through which to examine the impact of sexual violence on black women and girls -- calling to task in particular the behaviors and attitudes of black men in reinforcing a cultural assault ... No! includes messages from violence prevention advocates as well as testimonials from survivors who defy victimization.

The Other Man

It could have been a bloodbath of historic proportions. Instead, one man made the end of apartheid possible. In February 1990, President F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress and ordered the release of Nelson Mandela. As the world celebrated, Mandela would go on to become South Africa's first democratically elected president with de Klerk serving as his deputy president. De Klerk's history is complicated. A virulent defender of white Africans and their privileges, he helped lead the fight against ANC activists. His own presidency was marred by violence, often at the hands of the security forces he controlled. What pushed this man to reverse his beliefs and jumpstart the process of making South Africa a more equal and just nation? Featuring in-depth interviews with de Klerk, former president Thabo Mbeki, anti-apartheid activists, Father Michael Lapsley and Mathews Phosa, Richard Goldstone, and many others, director Nicolas Rossier explores the fascinating political journey and legacy of this complex figure. 

Please Vote for Me 

Two males and a female vie for office, indulging in low blows and spin, character assassination and gestures of goodwill, all the while gauging their standing with voters. The setting is not the Democratic presidential campaign trail but a third-grade class at an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China. "Please Vote for Me" chronicles a public school's first open elections for class monitor, a position normally appointed by teachers. Weijun Chen's film examining human nature, China's one-child policy and the democratic electoral process made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' documentary feature shortlist.

The Prosecution of an American President 

Famed Charles Manson prosecutor and New York Times bestselling author Vincent Bugliosi makes the most powerful, explosive, and thought-provoking argument of his storied career. In The Prosecution of an American President, Bugliosi presents a meticulously researched legal case that proves George W. Bush took our nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses and is therefore, under the law, guilty of murder for the deaths of 4,500 young American soldiers who fought and died there. Bush's unlawful war also cost the United States over a trillion dollars; alienated many of our allies; caused the deaths of over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children; and pushed a previously tranquil nation into unending civil war, atrocities and chaos. As a prosecutor dedicated to seeking justice, Bugliosi delivers a non-partisan argument based on hard facts and pure objectivity. This searing indictment also outlines a legally credible pathway to holding our highest government officials accountable for their actions, thereby creating a framework for future occupants of the Oval Office. Ultimately, Bugliosi calls for the United States to return to the great nation it once was. 

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the definitive history of the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself amidst profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. Initially, African Americans enjoyed what W. E. B. Du Bois called a "brief moment in the sun", when they could build businesses, become educated, exercise their right to vote, and run for public office. The Constitution was even amended to grant them citizenship, and protect their freedoms. But many former Confederates were staunchly resistant to this new social order, and they unleashed a backlash in the form of rampant violence and a state-by-state rollback of voting rights. This series tells the real story of Reconstruction, one of America's most overlooked, misunderstood, and misrepresented periods of history. It honors the struggle of the African Americans who fought their way out of slavery and challenged the nation to live up to the founding ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality.

Rethinking Cuban Civil Society: Something Deeper than the Truth

The notion of a Cuban civil society is often misrepresented in the U.S. mainstream media. According to most sources, Cuban civil society is limited to the opposition, which has little impact on the Cuban political scenario. Through in-depth interviews of members of Cuban Civil society, this documentary explores the complexities associated with these processes, following the itinerary of the debate about the concept of civil society generated in Cuba, since the 90s to the present. 

A Requiem for Syrian Refugees

Shot unembedded less than one hundred miles from ISIS controlled territory, this program offers an unprecedented in-depth perspective on the daily lives and feelings of refugees. Requiem was shot with a crew of refugees who felt the urgency to convey their situation to the world. Albeit set against a bleak background, Requiem is a film about hope. As the adolescent refugee Mizgin says: "This experience has made us stronger". The film ends with a cathartic wedding ceremony revealing their unwavering joy of life. Scored to Gabriel Faure's Requiem, the film is a touching portrait of the dire conditions and anxiety faced by refugees, as well as a celebration of the human spirit facing adversity. Shot on location in Northern Iraq in stark black and white, Requiem is a powerful tale of suffering and courage, a universal reminder of the civilian toll and trauma of the 21st. century wars. 

Secrets, Politics, and Torture

The movie Zero Dark Thirty portrayed the CIA's controversial "enhanced interrogations"-widely described as torture-as a key to uncovering information that led to the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden. Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with prominent political leaders and CIA insiders, FRONTLINE reveals the many challenges to this version of history. Filmmaker Michael Kirk (United States of Secrets) investigates the agency's top-secret interrogation program: how it began, what it accomplished, and the bitter fight in Washington over the public outing of its existence. 


Boniface "Softie" Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country as a political activist. Now he's taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election. From the moment Boniface decides to run, he responds to each challenge with optimism. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents becomes increasingly harder to combat with idealism alone. And Boniface soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. Should country really come before family, as he's always believed? 

The Swamp

The Swamp provides a look behind the curtain of Washington politics by following three renegade Republican Congressmen as they bring libertarian and conservative zeal to champion the President's call to "drain the swamp," while facing demands to raise money for their re-election campaigns and the Republican national party. Directors Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone) track Rep ublican Congressmen Matt Gaetz (R-FL),Thomas Massie (R-KY), and Ken Buck (R-CO) over the course of a pivotal year in politics, demonstrating the breadth and grip of a system that rewards fundraising above all else, plaguing Congress on both sides of the aisle. Withunique behind-the-scenes access to the inner workings of the House of Represen tatives amid major breaking news events, including the Mueller hearing and President Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings, the film presents a revealing look at the core democratic institution of American government. 

The Trump-Russia Investigation

The stories of the Trump Tower meeting; the shocking firing of FBI Director James Comey; Donald Trump's long history of financial dealings in Russia; the legal jeopardy of all the President's men; where the investigation could now be going. 

Voting Matters

More than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most extensive pieces of civil rights legislation, people of color across the United States still are engaged in a battle to protect their right to vote. VOTING MATTERS follows one dynamic woman working tirelessly on the ground and in the courts to ensure that they are not denied this right. When a key section of the Voting Rights Act was struck down in 2013, several states with a history of racial discrimination immediately attempted to pass laws that further restricted voter rights. This came in the form of limiting the window for voter registration, purging voters with inactive histories and requiring more restrictive forms of ID. There are currently 23 states with such voter restrictions. This film follows civil rights attorney Donita Judge as she helps several voters in Ohio cast ballots even though they initially were turned away. 

We the People 2.0

This is a documentary which highlights the struggle between communities and corporations in a battle for local rights. The story unfolds through the eyes of rural people, who have faced decades of toxic dumps, drilling, and mines in their communities. We learn with these citizens how powerless they feel, even in "the best democracy in the world".  

Who Bombed Judi Bari?

This is a documentary about Judi Bari vs. the FBI, her advocacy for both ancient redwoods and timber workers, her death-bed deposition, and the successful court ruling for justice and vindication. Who Bombed Judi Bari? profiles the late, legendary labor and forest organizer and her struggle with the FBI's attempted frame-up after she and Darryl Cherney were car-bombed in Oakland, California in 1990 while on a college tour to save the redwood forest of Northern California. Despite receiving death threats, the pair was arrested for bombing themselves. They sued the authorities and would win a $4 million award in this historic case. In 2014, Cherney continues his investigation of the bombing and offers a reward for information on the case. 

Why Trump Won

Fareed Zakaria examines how Trump’s own life story—a kid from Queens who crossed the bridge to scale the heights of wealth in Manhattan – yet never quite fit in with the city’s upper crust—helped him forge a powerful connection with Americans who felt they’d been left behind. 

Zero Weeks

Most Americans would agree that no matter where you work or live, family comes first. And yet the United States is one of only two countries in the world without a federal paid leave law, leaving its citizens to struggle with the most basic expenses when their savings are not enough. ZERO WEEKS delves into the lives of multiple individuals from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and their fraught situations which are not wholly unfamiliar to the average worker. From struggling single mothers who are initially knocked out of the workforce due to their pregnancy and then become the sole breadwinner in their household to developing families who are given insufficient time to care for their newborns to people who are just trying to care for their terminally ill or aging loved ones, the film highlights how the average American is just one medical crisis away from financial ruin. Viewing the nationally debated topic from all angles -- emotional, medical, financial, and global -- the film lays out a compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. 

Feature Films

The Grapes of Wrath 

In this enduring classic, a family of sharecroppers travels westward, driven from their Oklahoma farm by drought, failed crops, and mechanization. But the golden dream of California also fails them. Hungry and exploited, the Joad family and the other displaced families of the Great Depression struggle to survive. An exhilarating story of faith and pride, John Steinbeck's classic has become a motion picture legend.

Iron Jawed Angels

They had no vote, no political clout, no equal rights. But what they lacked under the law they made up for with brains, determination and courage. Oscar-winner Hilary Swank leads an outstanding cast in the inspirational true story of two women who dared to make a stand for women's rights, and ended up shaping the future of America. Iron Jawed Angels: Lead, follow or get out of the way. 

The Last King of Scotland

In an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). Impressed by Dr. Garrigan's brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin's savagery - and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.

Lawrence of Arabia

Inspired by the life of T. E. Lawrence and his autobiography The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, David Lean's film tells the epic story of the English intelligence officer who led the Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire between 1916 and 1918. At the end of the 1950s, Britain and France went through a painful process of decolonization, while Pan-Arab nationalism triumphed in the entire Arab world. Five years after the Suez Crisis, the film is a sort of proud and nostalgic counterpoint that tells the painful epic of the British “midwife” to Arab nationalism. Lawrence, who would later take a very active part in post-war negotiations, helped establish the three Arabic kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, and Iraq. 

The Post

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Inspired by true events.

Thirteen Days

JFK and staff during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp. Roger Donaldson directed.