Since winning an Oscar in 1999 and following it up with the lead role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie has been a movie star, featured in both hit action tentpoles like Salt and Wanted and prestige Oscar-bait projects like Changeling and A Mighty Heart. At no point has Jolie's star really dimmed, partially because of the constant media spotlight on her personal life, and on more than one occasion she's used that star power to create a project that shines a light on serious issues she cares about. It hasn't really worked yet—the well-reviewed A Mighty Heart was commercially ignored, and her directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey flopped—but her first effort, Beyond Borders, is the most representative of Jolie's noble hubris.
After her initial burst of super-stardom in 2000, Jolie was named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and traveled all over the world to areas in crisis, like Darfur, Syria and Kabul. Beyond Borders is directly inspired by her experience and was released alongside her book Notes From My Travels, which chronicles her work abroad.
I have to confess, I have not yet gotten around to reading Jolie's book; but I did see Beyond Borders in theaters in 2003 and revisited it this week (it's streaming on Netflix). There are so many examples of films that are preachy lectures first, engaging stories second—like 2012 charter school melodrama Won't Back Down, or Robert Redford's "a bunch of people discuss war in the Middle East" snore-fest Lions for Lambs. But Beyond Borders might be the ultimate example.