IHL in the Movies


Teach International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by watching a movie and discussing how IHL rules and principles apply. Invite student groups, Red Cross volunteers, or anyone interested in learning about IHL.



Bring together people in your community to discuss and visualize the role of International Humanitarian Law in film. Seeing how IHL is portrayed in the media can make it easier to see how it can be applied in real life.


How to Get Started

Step 1: Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Define your desired outcomes for the activity and create measurable goals and objectives to guide the planning process. We encourage you to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations into your activity and be creative with your approaches.


Step 2: Plan the Details

Decide on a movie

   • Choose from the list of IHL movies (see Movie Suggestions section). Review the movie before showing it and include disclaimers if necessary.


Decide on the discussion questions

   • Brainstorm 2 to 3 discussion questions in addition to the ones included in this activity guide (see Discussion Questions section). Depending on the movie, they can be specific to the annual YAC theme or IHL.


Step 3: Coordinate the Logistics

Set a date and time

   • The duration of the activity depends on the length of the movie. We suggest allocating an additional 30 minutes for the debrief/discussion.


Secure a venue

   • It can be at school, in a community center, or even in your backyard. Make sure you have access to a monitor/screen and enough seating for all participants.

   • If you plan to host this activity virtually, select a platform (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams) accessible to the participants.

       • Some streaming services, like Netflix Party, allow for a joint watch party on their platform through extensions.


Assign roles and responsibilities

   • This activity requires volunteers to set up the movie and lead the discussion.


Gather supplies

   • Create a list of supplies needed and arrange to acquire them in advance.


Spread the Word

   • (See Sample Flyer section) Advertise the activity through various channels such as social media, email, and school announcements.

   • Send a reminder with important details prior to the activity.

   • Tag @YouthVoices4IHL and @americanredcrossyouth on Instagram or using the hashtags #IHLYouthActionCampaign to be spotlighted!  


Step 4: Facilitate the Activity

   • Run through Step 2 and Step 3 in advance and engage the participants throughout the activity.

   • Arrive early to set up for the activity. You can also bring snacks and encourage participants to do so.

   • Log in early and from a location with a solid and stable Wi-Fi connection if this will be a virtual activity. Encourage participants to keep their cameras on and mute themselves during the movie.


Step 5: Debrief and Thank Your Volunteers

   • Invite participants to discuss their experiences and capture lessons learned.

   • Thank everyone who contributed and participated.

   • Remind volunteers to record their hours through Volunteer Connection.

   • Inform participants that they can contact IHLYouth@redcross.org and follow @YouthVoices4IHL on Instagram if they want to learn more or get more involved.  


Movie Suggestions

Parental Guidance —13 Movies (PG-13): 

   • Empire of the Sun 

   • Woman in Gold [CULTURAL PROPERTY]

   • Dr. Strangelove 

   • Emperor 

   • Au Revoir Les Enfants [EDUCATION IN WAR]

   • The Book Thief [EDUCATION IN WAR]  

   • Hotel Rwanda 

   • Hunger Games Series 

   • Joyeux Noel

   • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas 

   • The Monuments Men [CULTURAL PROPERTY] 

   • The War with Grandpa

   • Blood and Treasure (TV Show) [CULTURAL PROPERTY] 


Unrated Movies (UR): 

   • Promises [EDUCATION IN WAR] 

   • Eagles of Mercy 

   • War Machine 

   • King of Hearts

   • Nuremberg

   • No Fire Zone 

   • Sometimes in April 

   • Black Earth Rising (TV Show)

   • The Last Song Before the War 


Restricted Movies (R):

   • The Pianist 

   • American Sniper

   • Blood Diamond

   • Darfur, War for Water

   • Innocent Voices (Voces Inocentes) [EDUCATION IN WAR]

   • The Killing Fields 

   • Lord of War 

   • Saving Private Ryan 

   • Schindler’s List 

   • 1917

   • The Eye in the Sky 

   • Land of Mine 


Mature Audience Movies (MA):

   • Tokyo Trial 


Discuss Questions


   • Which people or groups are fighting?

   • What type of conflict do you think it is? (International armed conflict vs. non-international armed conflict)

   • Which rules of IHL apply? (Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols)

   • How does IHL protect those affected by an armed conflict in this film?


Theme: Cultural Property

   • What types of cultural property were affected (destroyed or damaged) in this film and how?

   • How does IHL protect the items and institutions affected in an armed conflict in this film?

   • What programs and incentives made the government offer to protect the cultural property or recover from cultural damage during/after the armed conflict?