If you’ve ever thought of yourself as someone who cares about the environment or social activism in general but you don’t really know what specific issues interest you the most, the easiest way to find out is by watching documentaries. It’s the easiest form of media to consume in the modern world and for most people, the most enjoyable form. It’s also a good way to introduce new people to the ideas that interest you the most.
Al Gores Inconvenient Truth + An Inconvenient Sequel
Not, as part of this movie poster suggests, ‘The most terrifying movie you’ll ever see’ In terms of horror, this film will not horrify you, however, the aim is to give the audience the facts and figures in regards to global warming, and why we should be paying attention to it. Set up a lot like a TEDtalks event, with an audience, Al Gore illustrates that climate change, is real, it is happening, and it is our fault. I liked this movie because of its high profile speaker since I would like to believe that when it was released in 2006 it will have reached quite a wide audience, due to the former vice Presidents celebrity status, back at a time when people didn’t know about or care about this issue, and also because it is a very well illustrated and easy introduction to what global warming really is. Having not yet seen the recent sequel I cannot really comment, however, the general premise of the new film it to correct the facts stated in the older version so that they are relevant to 2017 and see how far we’ve come to maybe helping or hindering the problem.
Cowspiracy + What the Health
This film highlights the ways in which animal agriculture are destroying many aspects of our planet and environment, and also shows that living on a plant based diet would be more beneficial to humans than their current one. This film was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and is available on Netflix. Before I watched this film I did not even know the connection between animal agriculture and global warming, the narrative of the movie unfolds as if you are learning these facts along with the narrator, which I personally enjoyed. The sequel film What The Health explores the health impacts of eating meat and processed foods, then consequentially the overuse of pharmaceuticals to treat the ailments caused by eating this diet, such as diabetes and heart disease.
This is honestly one of the most compelling, hard hitting, spiritually moving and beautiful movies I have ever seen. This is not a documentary like all of the other films featured in this list, but it is still worth watching to help spark your environmental activism. I didn’t know anything about this film when I first watched it so I will not spoil it by giving an outline of the plot, but I will say that this film is a metaphor for an industry that we all like to ignore, and explores the lies and propaganda of mainstream media. It is the story of a beautiful friendship and is so very well produced and directed you will want to go and watch more of Bong Joon Ho’s movies straight away.
The True Cost
A deep look into the world of ‘Fast Fashion’ that most of us take part in every time we go shopping, but how much do our cheap pieces of clothing cost when it comes to human suffering and environmental impact? I think a lot of us know that the cheap clothing chains use ‘sweat shop’ workers and pay well below the minimum wage, but it is so far removed from our world, happening in far off lands to people we don’t even know, that westerners just cannot bring any empathy into this narrative. This film shows us the real people behind the clothes you wear and the impact textiles production has on our planet in a bid to help people remember that everything that we wear, was touched by human hands, just like ours, and that sustainable clothing brands are here to help solve the problem. If you could change all consumers of this ‘fast fashion’ into activists, the world would be a much better place.
Covering a wide range of issues to do with the extinction of different species and the laws that exist to protect certain species not being enough. This film is also an exploration into the black market world and Chinas medicine cabinet, and their appetite for endangered sea life. It gives actionable solutions to people who only kill these animals because they have no other choice of income, such as turning ex-shark fishers into tour guides for shark spotting and subsequently making more money. Not only does it explore the extinction of species but also the possible extinction of humanity if an environmental change is not brought about.
This is not my favorite documentary by a long stretch, but it does take into account the importance of diet in helping to cure illness rather than our ‘A pill for every ill’ culture that is very much encouraged by pharmaceutical companies, who want you to only treat the symptoms of your illness rather than cure your ailment altogether because symptom treatment makes that much more money than the cure.
These film makers went on a very dangerous mission to bring you this particular film, which unveils the happenings of a sea cove in Japan where dolphins are being slaughtered in their thousands. Their aim is to shut down this brutal culling by exposing it to the public in Japan and the world. This documentary has won 13 prizes in 12 film festivals.
BBC Horizon – Whats Killing Our Bees?
This Horizon special looks at the reason that we are losing bees at such a rapid pace, reasons such as changes in the weather, pesticides and deadly viruses. It’s one of the only documentaries I have found on this important subject.
A very well known documentary which depicts the overall cruelty that has been at SeaWorld since it opened in 1959, it follows the story of the Orca Tillikum who is famously responsible for the deaths of three people during his captivity. This film shows the overall immorality of keeping animals for the entertainment of humans the dangers that follow after the previously wild animal is driven mad.
No Impact Man
This is a slightly more home movie style film, in my opinion, however, it delves into the lives of a family who take on an environmental challenge to make the least amount of impact on the planet possible, including only shopping locally, using the smallest amount of electricity, only using self propelled transport such as a bicycle and living a zero-waste lifestyle. This outlines a very extreme way of living, which would obviously not be plausible for the majority of the population, however, it also shows us all the areas of our life in which we can reduce our impact on the planet, even if we don’t do it to the extreme that this family has.
A Plastic Ocean
Following a four-year research mission, in 20 different locations around the world, this documentary shows the chilling horrors of our plastic pollution in the ocean. It also highlights innovative technologies and policy solutions that, if implemented in time, can help to change the fate of the oceans.
Taking a farmers perspective on the food industry and looking at the ways in which farming practices have changed in the last 50 years to keep up with the high demands of the fast food industry and general consumerism
Earthlings (WARNING 18)
Undoubtedly the most shocking film ever made in regards to environmentalism, categorized as a horror/documentary on IMDB. It aims to show that animals are just like humans, they feel pain, fear, loss, and loneliness and that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, nobody would eat meat. It shows the treatment of animals for food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research with the use of graphic and very traumatizing hidden camera video footage. It is applauded by the vegetarian and vegan community as one of the best films ever made on the subject and highlights the very real things that happen in this world that most of the population choose to ignore. Make the connection.