Our gift guides for OTs continue to be the most popular posts on this blog, and this year we wanted to do something a little different. Throughout the year, your AOTA Web editor has watched movies upon movies always with occupational therapy in my mind (on my off time, of course).

I’ve picked these six movies that I think occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students will love. None of them are specifically about OT, but they all have one thing in common: the power of occupation.

(Looking for gifts for the occupational therapist, OTA, or OT student in your life? Here’s our 2012 guide and our 2011 guide).

1) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Watch a trailer.
Strange title right? The synopsis of the film is that a sheik who is passionate about salmon fishing wants to bring it to his people in his home country of Yemen. He’ll spare no expense and enlists a fisheries expert in Scotland (who thinks the idea is ludicrous). Throughout the film all of the main characters seem to have realizations that having an occupation and purpose gives their lives meaning and depth, no matter how much they try to resist it. It’s a great feel-good movie with a healthy dose of lovely British accents, courtesy of Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor.
Buy the DVD on Amazon.

2) Brooklyn Castle
Watch a trailer.
When you think of which school would have the most national championships for chess club, you might not imagine a public school in Brooklyn. This documentary follows the chess team at the below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other school in the country. The students on the team are not only excelling at chess, but they are also learning important life skills even if they don’t realize it—importance of social participation, finding their purpose and talents, and acquiring a leisure activity that they love.
Watch it on Netflix Instant Watch or buy the DVD on Amazon.

3) Rust and Bone
Watch a trailer.
Please note! This is a European film rated R and is not kid-friendly and a bit edgy (you can read IMDB’s Parental Guide for more info). A woman who works with whales in a show at a marine tourist park has an accident during the show and has to have her legs amputated. Meanwhile a young, unemployed single father moves to a new city looking for work. The man and woman meet before the accident, and after the accident the man helps the woman get out of her apartment and get back in the ocean learning to swim again. Throughout the film the two help each other find purpose and occupations, dealing with setbacks as they arise.
Buy the DVD on Amazon.

4) Crash Reel
Watch a trailer.
Kevin Pearce was a U.S. champion snowboarder giving Shaun White a run for his money leading up to the 2010 Olympics. But after a training accident in Utah, Kevin was in a coma and woke up with a traumatic brain injury. Despite his doctors’ and family’s pleadings, Kevin was determined to snowboard again. This documentary is about his continued need for thrill-seeking activities and his process of realizing that even a small blow to his head could kill him. Kevin seeks new activities and sports that he can do safely with a TBI.
In select theaters now. Buy the DVD on Amazon.  If you have HBO: find the schedule here, available on demand until 1/19, or watch on HBOGO.

5) Lookout
Watch a trailer.
This film is 6 years old, but it still is an interesting film that OTs should love. A young man living with a TBI following a car accident in high school is navigating the world of independence after moving from home and finding a job. Yes, it suddenly turns into a bank heist movie, but even an action film can deal with issues such as finding meaningful employment, struggling to be independent, and the importance of trusted friends and relationships. This movie is also rated R (read IMDB’s Parental Guide here). 
Buy the DVD on Amazon.

6) Miss You Can Do It
Watch a trailer.
Abbey Curran is a young woman with cerebral palsy who became the first woman with a disability to compete in the Miss USA pageant. Abbey founded an annual pageant for girls with physical and intellectual disabilities called Miss You Can Do It. This documentary is about the pageant and the children and their families that travel from all around the country to participate.
Buy the DVD on Amazon. If you have HBO: find the schedule here or watch on HBOGO.