Oscars: 6 Documentaries That Led to Change in Policy and Practice

8:30 AM 11/9/2017

by Rebecca Ford

From 2002's 'Bowling for Columbine' to 2004's 'Super Size Me,' these timely Academy Award-nominated stories made an impact beyond theaters.

'Bowling for Columbine' and 'Super Size Me'
'Bowling for Columbine' and 'Super Size Me'
Photofest

This story first appeared in a November standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

  • Bowling for Columbine

    2002

    Miramax Films/Photofest

    While filming his anti-gun doc, Michael Moore met with Kmart executives, who stopped selling ammunition in stores after the deadly Columbine shooting, a policy that's still in place.

  • The Cove

    2009

    Roadside Attractions/Photofest

    The film, which investigated dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan, sparked outrage and protests, leading to a significant drop in the number of animals killed or captured in subsequent years.

  • Harlan County U.S.A.

    1976

    Photofest

    After a contentious coal miners strike in Kentucky led to the death of one striker, director Barbara Kopple and the presence of her cameras helped dissuade more violence.

  • Inside Job

    2010

    Sony Pictures Classics/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

    The doc about the U.S. financial crisis, which exposed Columbia Business School's questionable consulting deals, led to new policies at the school to prohibit future conflicts of interest.

  • Paradise Lost

    1996

    HBO/Photofest

    Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's doc trilogy about the West Memphis Three brought national attention to the case, increasing pressure for their release — which finally happened in 2011.

  • Super Size Me

    2004

    Roadside Attractions/Photofest

    Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald's for 30 days, and soon after he shot his film, the fast-food chain dropped its super-sized portion in an attempt to focus on healthier options.

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