Impact Cinema

Social Impact Cinema is an emerging field of independent documentary filmmaking that seeks to tell deep human stories that inspire a revolution of the heart. These stories capture critical, complex narratives that reflect societal problems, and some of the most essential global struggles of our time. They also serve to catalyze personal and community action in the spirit of engaged civic activism, bringing a renewed meaning to democracies driven by people power, and storytelling out of the authentic experience of humanity.

Read More

In a world of information overload and sensationalist media, social issue documentaries provide quality content that spreads across a variety of screens, including traditional theaters and film festivals, the internet, university classrooms, outdoor public spaces, home televisions, a cell phone and other mediums. Building community cohesion across the public, institutional, governmental, and organizational sectors, social impact cinema seems to be able to travel differently in this new media ecosystem, informing people quickly and effectively through both film and multiplatform strategic outreach campaigns. In this new way, documentaries feed social movements and help develop a more conscious socio-political sphere, working to explode the traditional narrative of the status quo, and in turn, inform and influence our future creative choices.

Social Impact Media Awards
Baaji Cooks by Komaaj
Humanity On The Move
Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock
Yours Truly Film
Bidder 70

SIMA’s mission is to advance global awareness, social justice, human rights, and humanitarian development by catalyzing creative works of visual storytelling that inspire activism, compassion and social transformation. SIMA started as the first documentary and educational media competition honoring members of both the independent film and global humanitarian industries. We set out to propel and elevate social-impact filmmaking that inspires crucial perspectives and demonstrates unique potential to enlighten, transform, and positively impact our contemporary world.

Over the years, we developed an international screening series, educational programs, community outreach initiatives and an ever expanding film catalogue (the SIMA Collection), curating and distributing the best impact cinema from around the globe. Through the annual SIMA AWARDS and year-round FILM PROGRAMS, we provide a catalyst for these important works, and serve as a film reserve for educators, journalists and screening partners worldwide.


CinéEqual represents filmmakers, institutions, and community members with a focus on social justice cinema. As an integrated unit of Cinema Without Borders, it promotes a diverse, inclusive, and equitable democratic society that values the worth of all humans.

The purpose is to educate our audience about concepts, theories, and methods related to social justice and to integrate ethical practices for solving social inequities through our online networks and resources. From studio productions like To Kill a Mockingbird to low budget films like Hotel Rwanda, I am not Your Negro, cinema has a venerable record of putting the spotlight on social injustice. But there are no online film forums dedicated to the cause. And that is where CineEqual comes in, as a pioneer in this market place of ideas, information sharing, networking, fundraising, and constructive action.




Baaji Cooks, A Story of Northern Iranian Cuisine is a short film and webisode series produced by Komaaj. Komaaj is a Cultural Unique Northern Iranian brand focusing on food, drinks, and flavors from all regions of Northern Iran. Komaaj is committed to showcasing the plenty of fresh produce, herbs, spices and products available in the Bay Area, and combination of those with traditional yet specific Persian ingredients. Dishes are performed in a manner that honors Northern Iran gastronomic traditions.
Komaaj’s dedication to tradition and quality falls into its Pop-ups.

Komaaj provides locals with brilliant service and a warm, relaxed environment in its venues or wherever that its customers need. Komaaj’s most important goal is to make the dining experience as accessible to those who just know what they like, as it is to those who understand the rich gastronomical culture in which we live.


Synopsis: For the first time since WWII, the number of refugees, displaced people and forced migrants surpassed 50 million globally. UNHCR estimates this number will triple to 150 million in the next ten years. It’s critical for the world to turn its attention towards finding just solutions to this overwhelming and urgent challenge. Humanity on the Move will be one of those solutions.

Show of Force has created Humanity on the Move, a project that uses TV, radio and videos to change perceptions about refugee children and families.
Humanity on the Move will create opportunities to help refugees tell their own stories and build support from people around the world.


In the shadow of the largest Native American occupation since Wounded Knee, thousands of Water Protectors descend upon the Standing Rock Reservation to resist construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.​ Through a Native lens and unprecedented access, Akicita captures the spirit of a movement and its people.

For years, Native Americans have been protesting against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, a multibillion-dollar construction project that tribal leaders say is threatening sacred sites as well as the tribe’s source of drinking water.



The story of the film Yours Truly begins with FOR-SITE’s remarkable exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz. Following Ai Weiwei’s detention at the hands of the Chinese authorities, the outspoken artist and activist transformed the former island penitentiary of Alcatraz into an artistic platform. The resulting exhibition engaged over 900,000 visitors in a conversation about the plight of prisoners of conscience around the world.

Trace was one of the eight new artworks that comprised the @Large exhibition. Made entirely from LEGO bricks, the work depicts the faces and names of 176 brave individuals who were incarcerated or exiled due to their beliefs, affiliations, and nonviolent expressions of dissent. The work’s companion piece, Yours Truly, invited visitors to compose messages of hope to many of the prisoners seen in Trace.

Visitors were galvanized by the possibility that their voices might have an impact. By the time the exhibition ended, over 90,000 postcards had been sent. Then something even more astonishing began to happen.

The FOR-SITE Foundation started to hear back from the prisoners and their families. Some of the messages from Alcatraz were getting through, and people had been moved—even sustained—by the public’s outpouring of concern for their welfare and causes.

The film Yours Truly follows these postcards around the globe—from Alcatraz Island to Beijing, Washington, D.C., and Cairo—as director Cheryl Haines meets with former prisoners of conscience and their families to discuss their impossible choices and the comfort they found in messages sent by people they would never meet. The film also takes a deep dive into Ai Weiwei’s inspiration for the postcard project. Interviews with the artist, his mother, and lifelong friends uncover the touching story of a childhood spent in exile and a postcard that found its way to the middle of nowhere. Ultimately, the film Yours Truly is a call to action, extending the incredible reach of Ai Weiwei’s postcards by asking viewers to take the issue of global human rights personally.



In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth and home to the planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers – including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a caretaker of orphan gorillas and a dedicated conservationist who’s a member of the Belgian royal family – protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo’s rich natural resources. When the newly formed M23 rebel group declares war, a new conflict threatens the lives and stability of everyone and everything they’ve worked so hard to protect, with the filmmakers and the film’s participants caught in the crossfire.

A powerful combination of investigative journalism and nature documentary, VIRUNGA is the incredible true story of a group of courageous people risking their lives to build a better future in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten, and a gripping exposé of the realities of life in the Congo. From director Orlando von Einsiedel and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio.


The choice you are making today is what side are you on.
-Tim DeChristopher

Bidder 70 centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability. In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act, which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice.


Synopsis: Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea.  Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this.  Her method: to provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.

Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockades. But with each setback comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves safe abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills. We witness the creation of an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.