Richard Wolf has directed more than 30 documentary films, mostly on social subjects. These films are diverse as their environments, but all embody a humanist perspective. Many of them have been broadcast on major media outlets like CNN and the BBC. They have a long shelf life and are available online through educational distributors. This is a selection of them.
An uplifting portrait of resilience and empowerment in the largest urban slum in Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya. The documentary follows the daily lives of young people who not just struggle to survive, but also to overcome the poor draw they got in the lottery of life. Kibera explores the synergy between Kenyans and the foreign volunteers who team up with them to fight poverty, and the edifying results that come about through this connection.
The Antechamber of Hell
A gripping portrait of trauma and resilience of the Rohingya people in the world's largest refugee camp. The film approaches the Rohingya crisis from the personal point of view of the victims. Gang rape survivors talk directly to the camera with unprecedented candor. The documentary follows a dramatic arc from hell to redemption, with stories of survival and endurance. Harrowing yet uplifting, The Antechamber of Hell is both a searing testimony of crimes against humanity and an enlivening testament to the human spirit.
A Requiem for Syrian Refugees
Released theatrically in New York and Paris, A Requiem for Syrian Refugees is a wrenching documentary featuring epic landscapes and compelling candid interviews with Syrian refugees. Scored to Gabriel Faure's Requiem, the film is a poignant portrait of the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as a celebration of the human spirit facing adversity. Shot on location in Iraq in stark black and white, Requiem is a powerful tale of suffering and survival, a universal reminder of the civilian toll and trauma of the 21st. century wars.
Behind The Veil
Shot undercover in Afghanistan during Taliban rule, this hard-hitting documentary showed to the world for the first time how women's groups fought fundamentalism under one of the most gender-repressive regimes in the contemporary world. It won the World Medal at the New York Festivals.
Dishonorable Killings is an investigative documentary on honor killings of women. Filmed in cinema-verité style with unprecedented access in remote rural villages of South-East Turkey, it features compelling testimonies of women survivors in hiding, as well as candid interviews with male killers. The narrative thread juxtaposes the weight of tradition and community pressure against the women who have the courage to take a stand and struggle to overcome these practices.
Women of the Sand
Women of the Sand is a documentary about nomad Islamic women in the Sahara desert. Filmed in Mauritania, it follows the day-to-day activities of women, documenting their work, family and community life, expectations and emotions. The stunning photography captures the immensity of the giant sand dunes that have already covered ninety percent of the country and are threatening the very existence of the nomadic lifestyle. Women of the Sand is a timeless tale of women's resilience and a poignant portrait of a vanishing way of life. It is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Rue Mouffetard is a thought-provoking mosaic. A place where young and old people, traditional residents and immigrants work, love, argue, laugh, cry, live. The street is the location, the unifying place. The characters are the soul. Following the cinema-verité tradition of Jean Rouch's Chronique d'un Eté, it proposes to the real-life characters the same seminal question: "Etes-vous heureux? (Are you happy?) and then follows up with lively conversations, all in the same multicultural environment.
The Sisters of Ladakh
The Sisters of Ladakh is an enquiry into the feminine vision of Buddhism. It provides a unique glance at the lives and challenges of Buddhist nuns. They discuss the condition of women in Buddhism, the current efforts to overcome gender prejudices and the challenges that lie ahead to build a compassionate world both outside and inside their own communities.
Destiny tackles the path of a 21st century gypsy woman in Northern Spain. Overcoming poverty and prejudice, Maria Jose graduated from the prestigious University of Salamanca and chose to become a social worker. Destiny is a journey of empowerment, commitment and joy. From the microcosm of this energetic young woman, the film approaches issues that are paramount for us all in the new millennium: tolerance, diversity, dignity, and an uplifting attitude towards life.
Fatima is an intimate narrative film that tackles how sensitive human beings react to the ominous reality of war and destruction. A beautiful young woman returns to Baghdad from abroad after the fall of Saddam Hussein and has to confront a harsh reality and shattered dreams. Will she choose to live or die?
The Seekers follows young travelers around the globe looking for alternative values and lifestyles. Filmed in four continents, The Seekers brings a candid intimate global perspective on people who have the courage to embrace change.
Fire Dreams is a poetic visual exploration of the universal power of hopes and dreams set against the stunning background of the Caucasus. Filmed in Azerbaijan, the land of eternal fires, where fire arises from the earth since immemorial times, Fire Dreams weaves kinetic images, photography, poetry and music in a compelling and uplifting way.
Filmed deep into the Mexican jungle in the Zapatistas hideouts, this investigative documentary captures the horror and resilience of the indigenous populations following the Acteal massacre, when on Christmas Eve paramilitary forces slaughtered 42 people inside a church in Chiapas.
Going Back Home
This gripping documentary on street children in Brazil features chilling stories of kids who due to the extreme social inequalities of the country were forced to live on the streets, facing a life of danger, prostitution and drugs. Taking a positive stand, the film features projects run by NGOs that reach out to street children and bring them home, reintegrating them into their families and social life. Going Back Home won a special International Emmy and the Ayrton Senna awards.
São Paulo is a chaotic 18 million people metropolis full of social inequalities and violence. Most of the youth lost all hope. More than two million of them became part of the vibrant Hip Hop scene. This documentary dared to go deep into the slums and ghettoes, revealing a shocking yet uplifting reality by focusing on the youth's resilience and positive initiatives in the midst of a tense social milieu.
The Security Council
This film provides a unique behind the scenes look at one of the most important institutions in the world - the United Nations Security Council. Extensive archival research, unique access to meetings and proceedings, as well as powerful interviews with key world personalities make up a solid and informative documentary.