Films about environment
The Conservation Game follows the story of Tim Harrison, an Ohio cop who stumbles upon a bombshell discovery while undercover at an exotic animal auction. He starts to suspect that America’s top television celebrity conservationists may be secretly connected to the exotic pet trade. As his investigation leads deeper into the secret world of the big cat trade, Tim and his team take their fight to the halls of Congress, pressing lawmakers to pass federal legislation that would end the private breeding and exploitation of these endangered animals. But when opposition comes from an unexpected source, Tim is forced to face the demons of his own past, while wrestling with the consequences of exposing his childhood hero.
Despite decades of environmental impacts and campaigning for bans and other regulations, the plastic industry continues to expand. From 1990 to 2010 alone, production of plastics more than doubled. Fracking has provided cheap natural gas which is also driving down the cost of making plastic. The United States is now one of the world’s largest plastic producers, and industry is investing tens of billions of dollars in new plastic plants. By 2050, it’s estimated that global production of plastic will triple. Alongside, the industry has pushed a greenwashing image of recycling to fend off negative public opinion, and sell more plastic. Plastic Wars examines how this has come to be, using industry documents and former insiders, and presents the urgency of the need for change, now more than ever.
A group of friends become curious about the sustainability of their eating regiments. They instigate a challenge, and send filmmaker Yasi Gerami off on a quest to investigate the sustainability of their eating ideologies. The friends come from different backgrounds and live in Toronto, Canada, but the inquiry takes the story of their food around the globe. As Gerami digs deeper, she realises the inconvenient truths not only about the environmental catastrophes caused by our dependence on mainstream food production methods, but also by the cataclysmic social justice impact of our eating habits in the global south. The film unfolds some popular myths on topics such as plant-based diets, healthy and nutritional foods, ethical eating, food politics, industrial agriculture, and how to attain a sustainable food culture. Sustenance helps the viewer discover these themes, prompting the viewer to question where our food really comes from, and how it genuinely affects the health of other people, other species, and ultimately the entire planet.
The central thesis of Planet of the Humans is that various people and organisations in the United States claiming to promote ‘green energy’ are actually promoting biomass energy—largely a euphemism for cutting down and burning forests—a practice which is not carbon neutral nor renewable nor sustainable. The film reveals the destruction of environments first-hand, and also explores how wind power and solar power don’t fare much better than fossil fuels in terms of impacts once all the inputs for construction and maintenance are considered and compared. In most cases, the additional demands for resources and construction simply invoke more environmental degradation and pollution. The film examines this push for more industry through key figures in the modern environmental movement that are funded by entities connected to fossil fuels, or have established profit motives, revealing how the environmental movement has been essentially co-opted into a de-facto lobbying arm of ‘green’ industries. The film also posits that regardless of energy systems, overpopulation is a central problem of industrial civilisation, and that this current way of life is unsustainable no matter how it is powered or ‘re-imagined’ by technology.
This biography documents the life of Rachel Louise Carson who was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist. Her book Silent Spring, and other writings, are widely recognised to be responsible for advancing the global environmental movement. Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the United States Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s, turning her attention to conservation, especially some problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring, published in 1962, which brought environmental concerns to the public at large. Although the book was met with vicious attacks from chemical companies, Carson spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. This film is an intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking work revolutionised our relationship with the natural world.
If a crime is committed in order to prevent a greater crime, is it excusable? Is it, in fact, necessary? The Reluctant Radical follows Ken Ward as he confronts his fears and acts on these questions to stop climate change. After twenty years leading some of the most renowned mainstream environmental organisations, Ken witnesses first-hand how ineffective and unthreatening they are. As their efforts fail, and environmental collapse increases in scope and speed, Ken comes to see how direct action civil disobedience is the most effective political tool to deal with catastrophic circumstances. Ken breaks the law, to fulfil his obligation to future generations, to stop the oil economy. By following Ken for a year and a half through a series of direct actions, this film culminates with his participation in the coordinated action that shut down all the tar-sands oil pipelines in the United States on October 11, 2016. The film reveals the personal costs but also the true fulfilment that comes from following one’s moral calling, even if that means breaking the law and its consequences. Ken has no regrets.
The Devil We Know investigates the toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid—PFOA/PFA, also known as C8—the key ingredient found in non-stick cookware, stain resistant furniture and carpets, wrinkle free and water repellent clothing, cosmetics, lubricants, paint, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and many other everyday products. The film centres on Parkersburg, West Virginia, in the United States, at the DuPont facility that manufactured Teflon, and dumped at least 1.7 million pounds of PFOA into rivers and streams between 1951 and 2003, knowing that it was a carcinogen. The film follows the personal stories of several people who worked at the facility that experienced cancers and birth defects, and also reveals the detection of PFOA in the blood of more than 98% of the general US population in the low and sub-parts per billion (ppb) range, with levels much higher in chemical plant employees and surrounding subpopulations.
RiverBlue shows the toxic effects of textile production and jeans manufacturing on some of the world’s largest rivers. Travelling from tanneries along rivers in India, to some of the largest jeans manufacturing factories in China, renowned river advocate Mark Angelo guides the viewer through the declining health of waterways around the world.
Young filmmaker Julia Barnes embarks on a journey around the world to investigate the causes and solutions to some of the most pressing threats facing the oceans, such as the decimation of the world’s fish populations and ocean acidification. Through interviews with scientists, researchers, and activists, the film reveals the interconnections of all life on earth, positing that the current mass extinction in the oceans will have devastating impacts on terrestrial life too, including humans. Sea of Life becomes a call to action, with the view that once more people know what’s happening in the ocean, they’ll want to fight for its protection. Barnes then documents some of the largest environmental rallies, including the People’s Climate March in New York and protests at COP21 in Paris, but concludes that these actions will not be enough to save our future. Sea of Life calls for a revolution in the way we approach activism.
Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? investigates the latest method of providing so-called “green” electricity, as espoused by the renewable energy movement. It’s called biomass, which is a euphemism for clear-cutting and burning forests. It is claimed that this is first a sustainable method of electricity creation, but secondly, and more slanderous, is claimed to be carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly. So how did this become the purported saviour for the power-generation industry, and by extension, the modern environmental movement? Burned provides a visceral account of these questions, while documenting the accelerating destruction of forests to fuel this destructive culture.
Half of all marine life has been lost in the last 40 years. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. The way the ocean is different to how we thought 100 years ago. We can no longer think of it as a place of resources, a dumping ground, immune to change or decline. Blue takes us on a journey into the ocean realm, witnessing the critical moment of our time when the marine world is on the precipice. Passionate advocates for ocean preservation take us into their world where the story of the changing ocean unfolds. We meet those who are defending habitats, campaigning against exploitative commercial fishing, combating marine pollution, and fighting for the protection of keystone species. Blue comes at a time where decisions made today will pave the legacy for what we leave behind for generations to come.
Ten years on from his previous film, Advertising & the End of the World, renowned media scholar Sut Jhally follows up by exploring the since-escalating devastating personal and environmental fallouts of advertising and the near-totalising commercial culture. The film tracks the emergence of the advertising industry in the early 20th century to the full-scale commercialisation of the culture today, identifying the myth running throughout all of advertising: the idea that corporate brands and consumer goods are the keys to human happiness and fulfilment. We see how this powerful narrative, backed by billions of dollars a year and propagated by clever manipulative minds, has blinded us to the catastrophic costs of ever-accelerating rates of consumption. The result is a powerful film that unpacks fundamental issues surrounding commercialism, media culture, social well-being, environmental degradation, and the dichotomy between capitalism and democracy.
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change travels the globe, from New York City to the Marshall Islands and China, to meet with people who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming. The film examines the intricately woven forces that threaten the stability of the climate and the lives of the world’s inhabitants.
Adrift is a short film that explores the phenomenon of space junk, where human-made objects launched into space and are now defunct orbit the Earth literally as garbage. The film makes visible some of the immediate impacts and dangers of the technological escalation of this culture, where old satellites, spent rocket stages, and other items orbit the Earth, only to collide with one another at high velocities, generating smaller fragments that collide with other items, and so on. The end point is a cascading complex of junk that engulfs the entire space around the Earth. Adrift aims to make this phenomenon visible, putting a big question mark against the claims made by many futurists and technologists that future space colonisation would even be possible, if only it were a tenable or sensible idea in the first place…
The oil industry giant Chevron began operating in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest in 1964, and by the time the corporation fled the area in 1992, their toxic footprint had brought about 1,700 times more damage than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in the United States in 1989. Chevron vs. The Amazon visits the scene of this epic and enduring crime, to uncover the acts that have killed the riches of the world’s tropical paradise. The Amazon is home to hundreds of thousands of unique species of plants, animals, insects, landscapes, as well as an equally diverse human population—all under severe and continued stress and threat. Chevron dumped 17 billion gallons of crude oil and 19 billions gallons of contaminated waste water into the Amazon. Prior to fleeing, they attempted to hide this by covering the areas with dirt or setting the toxic dumps on fire. This film shows the totality of these crimes, and how the land and its people have suffered from devastating impacts over the ensuing decades, as the first step to holding corporate criminals to account, for justice and the survival of the Amazon and its peoples.
The microbeads of plastic contained in cosmetics, shower gels, soaps, toothpastes, and many other products, of course directly end up in rivers and oceans, fish and birds, as well as other creatures of the sea and indeed land. But if that isn’t problematic enough, these tiny plastics are only part of the bigger problem of plastic prolifically choking the ocean to death. For all plastics, big or small, break down and fail into smaller plastic particles, having cumulative biological and toxicological effects. This short television report takes a quick look into how marine life is effected by all this, and why we should do something about it before it’s too late.
90% of the consumer products are manufactured overseas, delivered by ship. Likewise with individual supplies, assembly parts, and even transportation oil itself. The shipping industry is the core of the globalised economy. Yet this industry remains largely obscure and unquestioned. As modern ships are too large to fit in traditional city harbours, they’ve moved out of the public eye, behind extensive barriers and security check points. Freightened: The Real Price of Shipping aims to open up this hidden world. What pulls the strings in this multi-billion dollar global business? To what extent does it control policy makers? How does it affect the environment above and below the water-line? And what’s life like for modern seafarers? Through journeys over many oceans, Freightened is an investigation the hidden machinations of globalised shipping, revealing its ubiquitousness but fragility, consequences and future.
In the race towards modernity, amongst the buzz and jitter of technological innovation and the rapid growth of cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. Beginning with an ode to John Cage’s seminal silent composition 4′ 33″, the sights and sounds of this film delicately interweave with silence to create a contemplative experience that works its way through frantic minds and into the quiet spaces of hearts. As much a work of devotion as it is documentary, In Pursuit of Silence is a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, sound, and the impact of noise on our lives.
Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons; or that dancing around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”? Why are these “solutions” not sufficient? But most importantly, what can be done instead to actually stop the murder of the planet?
Frackman introduces us to Dayne Pratzky, who is looking to build a simple home on his block of land in central Queensland, Australia. But one day the gas company comes and demands access to his land for gas mining. Dayne doesn’t want that, but is told he has no right to refuse access to his land, and so begins his transformation into a reluctant activist on a journey that takes him around the world. Through his efforts, we see other people drawn into the battle of fending off rapacious coal-seam gas miners. Frackman presents this story, crossing ideological divides, bringing together an alliance of farmers, conservationists, political conservatives, and a cast of colourful Aussie bush characters, determined in different ways to stop fracking from destroying the land.
Consumer capitalism dominates the economy, politics, and culture of our age, despite a growing trove of research showing that it is a failed system. In this illustrated presentation, media scholar Justin Lewis makes a compelling case that capitalism can no longer deliver on its myth of the dream and its promise to enhance the quality of life. He argues that changing direction will require changing our media system and our cultural environment, as capitalism has become economically and environmentally unsustainable. This presentation explores how the media and information industries make it difficult to envision other forms of life by limiting critical thinking and keeping us locked in a cycle of consumption, and shows us that change will only be possible if we take culture seriously and transform the very way we organise our media and communications systems.
In recent years, nature conservation has become a booming business where huge sums of money change hands, and endangered species become exotic financial products. Banking Nature, delves into this hidden world of so-called environmental banking, where huge corporations such as Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase buy up the land and habitat of endangered species, and then sell them in the form of shares. Companies that inevitably harm the environment are then obliged to buy credits to offset the damage that they have caused. In Uganda, we meet men who measure trees to determine how much carbon they store and then a banker from the German firm that sells the resulting carbon credits. In Brazil, the steel giant Vale destroys the rainforest, replaces it with a monocrop tree plantation, and reaps the benefits of environmental credits as if the rainforest was still standing. Banking Nature posits that we disallow the same corporate criminals responsible for the global financial crisis from turning what’s left of the natural world into their final corrupt commodities market.
Pretty Slick reveals the untold story of BP’s coverup following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion is known as one of the largest environmental catastrophes in the history of the United States, but what is not well-known is that BP, along with government approval, used toxic chemicals to sink the oil in the water rather than clean it up, using a controversial chemical dispersant called Corexit. Because of this, it is estimated that approximately 75% of the oil, or over 150 million gallons, is still unaccounted for. When filmmaker James Fox learned of this, he began a three year investigation to find out about the dispersant use and its coverup. Pretty Slick reveals how public safety and environmental health took a backseat to restoring the economy, and along the way exposes the collusion between big oil and the United States government in these happenings.
Following on from previous reports about the numerous threats from industry facing the Great Barrier Reef, investigative journalist Marian Wilkinson returns to Queensland, Australia some years later to not only review the continued declining state of the reef, but to unfortunately investigate a new string of threats. This year, the government agency tasked with protecting the reef has approved a plan to expand the Abbot Point coal port which has serious cumulative effects on the already stressed reef and surrounding ecology. This in conjunction with the realities caused by anthropogenic climate change means the health of the reef has arguably past tipping point. Do we care enough to shift our perception of viewing everything through the lens of the economy? And not only that—do we care enough to act?
On April 20th 2010, a massive oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. It was called the Deepwater Horizon rig, operated by the BP corporation. The resulting fire claimed the lives of eleven workers, while the exploding oil well spewed over 4.2 million barrels of oil into the sea over 82 straight days, killing the ocean and millions of animals. The disaster is considered the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States. Ecocide profiles the disaster through the residents of Grand Isle, the last inhabited barrier island off the coast of Louisiana, United States, who thought they were living in paradise until the BP oil explosion hit their shores. Through the lived experiences of this island community, we see the devastating repercussions of the explosion, several years later, that continue to this day.
Nuclear Nation II is Atsushi Funahashi’s sequel, documenting the consequences of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Japan. In this follow-up, we learn that the former mayor—previously a fervent advocate of nuclear energy and now a passionate fighter for the victims of the catastrophe—has now been replaced by someone younger. The single-minded cattle breeder also makes another appearance, originally having resisted the government’s orders to evacuate the disaster zone and kill his livestock. Today, a look at his animals lays bare the consequences of radioactive contamination: they all have ulcers and open wounds. It wasn’t until late 2014 that the final people left the school building, but they’re unlikely ever to be able to return to their homes. The epicentre of the catastrophe has been declared a toxic waste disposal site. The inhabitants of Futaba, to whom nuclear energy once brought affluence, are now paying the high price for it.
Travelling across North America, DamNation investigates the growing change in national attitude from strange pride in big dams as domineering engineering projects, to the growing truthful awareness that dams have always been the great killers of rivers, wildlife, the salmon, the forests, coastlines, watersheds. Life is bound to water and health of rivers, and now, dam removal in many forms—including Monkey Wrenching—is reclaiming that life and spreading. Where dams come down, rivers come back, allowing the salmon to return after decades of being concreted out. By making firsthand unexpected discoveries moving through rivers and the landscapes altered by dams, DamNation presents a much-needed metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature; to respect, and be humbled. With over two million dams in North America alone—75,000 of them over six feet tall—there’s much work to be done. Let’s get to it.
Above All Else is an intimate portrait of a group of activists and landowners in East Texas, United States, who undertook a series of direct actions and put their bodies in the way to stop construction of the Keystone pipeline in 2012. The film follows David Daniel, a quiet, affable carpenter, whose backyard became the epicenter of a tree-sit that physically blocked the path of the controversial pipeline. This was the birthplace of the Tar Sands Blockade, an activist group that would go on to oppose the pipeline’s construction all along its route. David’s stance against Keystone brought together an unlikely coalition of allies, from Texan farmers to student environmentalists to fire-cracker great-grandmothers like Eleanor Fairchild. Above All Else is the story of David and his allies, their struggles, and what happened when they stood in the way of the most powerful industry in the world.
Who Pays the Price — The Human Cost of Electronics is a short film that seeks to humanise the largely hidden and anonymous global labour force that enables the ubiquitous technoculture, documenting the harsh conditions in which electronics are made and how this really impacts those people’s lives, and the environment. Toxic chemicals, plastics, and sweat-shop working conditions all contribute to the global machine that disseminates digital technologies, hidden in plain sight. Through direct footage of factory workers, interviews with them and analysis of the conditions, Who Pays the Price asks the question of the viewer, and as a call to action to stop the exploitation and toxification of people and the natural world.
Stop the Flows is a media project in progress to document resistance movements around the world that are working towards stopping the flows of oil and gas, minerals and other natural ‘resource’ extraction from within their communities, territories and landbases; as well as stopping the flow of the tremendous amounts of wealth generated from these destructive activities. This series aims to support and capture the many forms of organising, direct-action, protest and resistance movements throughout the world working to end mining, the oil economy, nuclear power and more…
Gasland Part II follows on three years later, to continue documenting how the stakes have been raised on all sides in one of the most devastating environmental issues rapidly spreading the globe. This sequel further enriches the argument that the gas industry’s portrayal of natural gas as a clean and safe alternative to oil is a lie, where in fact fracked wells inevitably leak over time, and vent exuberantly more potent greenhouse gasses such as methane in cumulative effect, not to mention the continued string of cases of severe water contamination across the United States and even cases as far away as Australia. Gasland Part II follows deeper into these happenings, revealing yet more of an entrenched corporate collusion in the pursuit of exploiting dwindling ‘natural resources’…
Just along the fault lines of the Pacific Rim of Fire from Japan, lies Taiwan—another heavily industrialised, modern economy highly reliant on nuclear power. Ninety percent of the world’s earthquakes occur along the Rim of Fire, so no wonder there are worries about a fourth nuclear plant being built there. The government of Taiwan is promising to hold a referendum on its future, but if the reactor doesn’t go ahead the country’s nuclear strategy is in question, along with the $9 billion already spent on the plant. And the state-owned power company, Taipower, would face bankruptcy, leaving no one to manage Taiwan’s nuclear waste. The waste currently sits across the water on the tiny Orchid Island, quickly corroding and risking potential disaster for the native Tao inhabitants. As fears grow, can we learn from Fukushima before it’s too late?
Salmon Confidential follows renowned biologist Alexandra Morton as she finds that wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with industrial salmon farming worldwide, and then, how a chain of events is set off by the Canadian government to suppress the findings. Scientists are gagged, research suppressed, evidence not allowed. With the industrial fish farms having moved into Morton’s neighbourhood in the late 1980s, since then, there has been a serious decline in wild salmon in the region. So, tracking her findings, the film follows Morton and her team as they move from courtrooms, to Canada’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants, providing insights into the workings of government agencies tasked with managing the ‘safety of fish and food supply,’ that always seem to put industry and the needs of corporations over the natural world, time and time again. Salmon Confidential becomes a call to action to help save the wild salmon from these atrocities, before they’re completely wiped out forever.
On 11th March 2011, a huge tsunami, triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, hits Japan. It cripples the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radiation, and turning the residents of Futaba into nuclear refugees. The devastation experienced by the town—dead livestock, crops abandoned, homes destroyed—was infinitely worse than anything reported by the newspapers. A year later, many refugees are still unable to return to homes that will be contaminated for many hundreds of years. The irony of this disaster occurring in a nation that experienced two nuclear bombs is not lost on the victims who poignantly question their responsibility for striking a Faustian bargain with nuclear power. Nuclear Nation examines the tragedy of Fukushima, and also whether it could one day be replicated on a grand scale.
Aluminium is everywhere—beer cans, tinned food, cooking pans, computers, pens, cosmetics; and many medications, including most vaccinations. Though what do we know about this material? The Age of Aluminium profiles people whose health has been seriously impacted by unwitting exposure to aluminium; along with research exploring how aluminium as a known neurotoxin relates to the growing epidemic of chronic illnesses and disabilities such as breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, and autism. Aluminium mining and manufacturing have also created cataclysmic environmental problems in several parts of the world, as we see the devastating effects of aluminium mining in South America, and environmental disasters in Hungary and the UK. What are we doing with this material? And what can we do now to avoid the continued impacts on our lives and the natural world?
During the summer of 2013, a new area of occupied Sápmi (the northern parts of Fennoscandia in Europe) were under attack from the mining industry. If it were not for groups of brave resisters, the test blasting outside Jokkmokk in Lapland, Sweden, would have gone by without incident. The local Sámi people would have once again been exploited, and future generations poisoned without even a debate. But this time, something happened. The Gállok Rebellion tells the story of the resisters in Gállok, and shines a light on views which are not often televised. The film collates the efforts of many groups working together and serves as a call to action, to continue to protect the natural world which is under siege.
Away from its busy capital city and famous canal, Panama is one of the world’s most ecologically diverse nations. Yet huge new hydroelectric dam projects now underway are seeing pristine rivers damned and virgin rainforest flooded. The government says it is vital for ‘economic growth’, with international corporate interests rushing into the country, and even the United Nations awarding ‘carbon credits’ on the basis that the resultant energy will be “sustainably produced”. But for the indigenous Ngabe people—whose homes are vanishing under water—it is a catastrophe, and they are fighting back…
Combining graphs and other visual examples in animation, this short film goes through the issues surrounding the collapse of industrial civilisation—by collating the interconnectedness of energy depletion, carrying capacity, population growth, peak natural resource extraction, and other issues with the problems of exponential economic growth on a finite planet. Can this current way of life continue? The film takes us through these problems and also examines some of the many flaws inherent in some proposed solutions, such as ‘change-by-personal-consumer-choice’, or the vague belief in technology as the deus ex machina to save the day. These serious problems need serious solutions and require a radical rethinking of this current way of life that cannot continue indefinitely. Time is short…
Climate Of Doubt is an investigation into the growing forces manipulating public opinion on the scientific consensus of impacts to global climate by industrial civilisation. A massive disinformation campaign is growing from the fronts of government and corporate interests to undermine scientific processes and reshape public perceptions. Climate Of Doubt ventures inside these organisations to demonstrate the strong influence of the global politick on maintaining established denial, and ignoring culpability on the issue of anthropogenic climate change.
On 20th April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, killing eleven workers, and spewing millions of barrels of oil into the ocean for weeks. Dirty Energy brings to light the personal stories of the Louisiana fishermen and local residents directly impacted by one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history, as they struggle to rebuild their lives and contend with emerging health crises related to the toxic dispersants used to clean up the explosion.