Themed Playlist: Giving Back
The University of St Andrews Class Gift Committee have compiled this varied and eclectic themed playlist surrounding the idea of ‘Giving Back’. Class Gift is a student-led giving campaign at St Andrews. This year, Class Gift is raising money for the Student Support Fund, which goes towards helping students that are financially affected by the pandemic.
This playlist is composed of suggestions from the committee, which just shows how widely different ideas about what giving back can mean or look like. This list is slightly longer than usual playlists because everyone on the committee wanted to contribute to it!
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)
This delightful, animated Studio Ghibli film follows Kiki, a young witch, and her trusty black cat Jiji, as they search for a new town to live in as part of her training to become a witch. Settling in Koriko, Kiki begins to run a delivery service by flying goods using her magical flying broomstick. The film explores ideas of friendship and community, and shows how much it can mean to help others.
Kiki’s delivery service is currently available to stream on Netflix.
It Could Happen to You (Andrew Berman, 1994)
Nicholas Cage stars in this real-life inspired tale about a police officer who wins the lottery and keeps a promise to split half with a waitress when he forgets his wallet. The film explores many themes, but most notably the strength of community, and shows how those who put enough good into the world will always get their fair share back.
It Could Happen to You is available to rent on Amazon Prime.
Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
Spoiled, shallow Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) of Beverly Hills attempts to revamp her personality by becoming a matchmaker in her local high school. After some friend and boy drama, she grows into a caring, more selfless woman through an internal makeover. One “give-back” act is her taking part in a rescue relief fundraiser and donating her unused items.
Clueless is streaming on Netflix.
Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)
This award-winning feature is based on the real-life story of Erin Brockovich (played by Julia Roberts), a legal clerk and single mother who helps a small town fight a huge corporation over contaminated drinking water. The film highlights how a small community, in this case the town of Hinkley, California, can always join together and fight for what is right no matter the odds.
Erin Brockovich can be found on Netflix.
Les Choristes / The Chorus (Christophe Barratier, 2004)
This beautiful French film follows a music teacher joining an austere French boarding school who starts a choir with the boys in his class. The misbehaving students, some of which are orphans, begin to find a sense of calm community through the choir, especially Pierre, a mischievous boy, who turns out to have a beautiful voice. The Choir gains local attention, transforming the boys’ lives by leading them on a path of hope.
The Chorus is available to rent on iTunes.
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (Michael LaBash, Tony Leondis, 2005)
A classic from the 2000s, Lilo and her pet alien Stitch are back again! The film (and the series that plays alongside it) focus on the pair’s attempts to rehome hundreds of aliens across Hawaii who crash landed; only now, issues with Stitch are causing problems for both Lilo and the island as a whole. The movie takes a surprisingly mature look at how sometimes you have to give up what you want most to fight for a friend who needs you, because Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind.
Lilo and Stitch 2 can be found on Amazon Prime.
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, 2005-2008)
This children’s animated television show follows Aang, the last of his people as he tries to master all four elements (water, earth, fire, and air) in order to prevent the Fire Nation from taking over the world. Specific episodes related to giving back are The Serpent’s Pass (S2E12), The Headband (S3E2), and The Painted Lady (S3E3).
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
This Oscar-nominated biographical film follows Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as the first openly LGBT+ candidate in Californian history. His political work had a significant impact on the LGBT+ community, especially his integral role in opposing the (failed) Briggs Initiative – despite often coming at the cost of his personal relationships. Footage of Milk’s speech at the 1978 LA Gay Pride Parade can be found on Youtube.
Milk is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Megamind (Tom McGrath, 2010)
Legend has it that Megamind is better than the Godfather. This animated feature follows the titular Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell), an alien supervillain who becomes lost when he finally defeats his archenemy, Metro Man. But when he realises that without a true foe, both he himself and the city are worse off, it’s up to Megamind to work out how to set things right.
Megamind is available to watch on Netflix.
Mary and Martha (Philip Noyce, 2013)
This film, starring Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn, follows two women who lose their sons to Malaria. The two women turn their pain into purpose by dedicating themselves to the cause of Malaria prevention. Mary and Martha, whose screenplay was written by Richard Curtis, was nominated for the Humanitas Prize.
Double Feature: Paddington (Paul King, 2014) and Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2016)
Based on the character created by Michael Bond, both Paddington films are probably two of the best British films to have been released in the last decade, with the sequel even holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The first film follows the marmalade-loving bear (voiced by Ben Wishaw) and his journey to London and acceptance into the kindly Brown family. In the second film, Paddington’s family come together to prove his innocence when he is wrongfully framed and sent to prison by Hugh Grant’s character. Both films show the kindness and acceptance of the Brown family and Windsor Gardens community, and how Paddington wants to repay the generosity he experiences.
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
The indie hit from veteran film-maker Ken Loach looks at a man who has worked his entire life only to be stuck in the modern British benefits system when he needs help the most. Dave Johns, in his breakthrough role, gives a touching view of a man trying to get back on his feet whilst still never losing his smile. It shows how those at the bottom of the ladder are often the most willing to give what little they have, such as the heart wrenching scene when the main character offers what little he has for a young mother to leave prostitution.
I, Daniel Blake can be rented on Amazon Prime.
After Life (Ricky Gervais, 2019-)
Ricky Gervais turns serious in this brutal story of a widowed man who has decided that if he can’t live with his wife, life isn’t worth living. The character is rude and at times downright cruel, but it is plain to see he is simply a man who can’t handle the loss of the one person he truly loved. The show takes us through all of his stages of grief, and shows how a strong support group of friends, family and co-workers can sometimes help us when we can’t help ourselves.
Both seasons of After Life can be found on Netflix.
With most people staying at home for the better part of the past year, many have turned to new or childhood video games in their spare time, so we’ve decided to include two suggestions whose gameplay focuses on community and helping others.
Harvest Moon (released 1996, developed by Amccus)
Harvest Moon is a farm simulation role playing game with various versions released. The story follows the player establishing a ranch, as well as saving the town and the environment.
Harvest Moon was originally released on the SNES, and is available on all modern Nintendo consoles.
Stardew Valley (released 2016, developed by ConcernedApe)
Stardew Valley is the tale of a young worker from the city who decides to give it all up and move to the country to restore their late grandfather’s farm. The player starts just trying to get by, but a procession of neighbours and townspeople can help turn the player’s land around: the player then has the chance to help the town in turn, from cooking for the yearly farm show to helping restore the old community centre.
Stardew Valley is available on all major gaming consoles, PC and mobile. You can watch the game trailer on Youtube.
Class Gift is a student-led giving campaign at the University of St Andrews, which was set up in 2009 by the graduating class to give back to the University by supporting current and future students. This year, the committee is raising money for the Student Support Fund, which helps students in immediate financial need due to the pandemic, as voted by the class of 2021.