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Movies and Films about Sustainability and Environmental Issues

Activism > Environment

Summary. This document offers a directory of movies and films about sustainability and environmental issues. In addition to the featured movies below, GreenPlanetFilms.org offers more suggestions.

  • The 11th Hour: Turn Mankind’s Darkest Hour Into It’s Finest – “Environmental documentary 11th HOUR resides at the polar opposite of escapist summer fare its mission to firmly confront viewers about the indelible human footprint that humans have left on this planet and the catastrophic effects of environmental neglect and abuse.”
  • An Inconvenient Truth and ClimateCrisis.net (website for An Inconvenient Truth) – “Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Al Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change in the most talked-about documentary of the year. With the fate of our planet arguably hanging in the balance, An Inconvenient Truth may prove to be one of the most important and prescient documentaries of all time.”
  • Diet for a New America – “Host John Robbins, the author of the best-selling, pulitzer prize nominated book, Diet For A New America, takes us on a journey into the great American food machine. In his early twenties, in an effort to regain his own health, John turned away from the family owned Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream business and began extensive research into nutrition and food production. After ten years of investigation and a thorough inside look at the American food production system, John has a story to tell. In simple and startling pictures, Robbins connects the dots and reveals his theories on the environmental and personal health consequences of a diet based on animal products. According to Robbins, our current American diet is a recipe for personal and environmental disaster. Diet For A New America graphically outlines the problems and presents Robbins’ vision of hope for the future–people can make a difference by educating themselves and making a choice to return to a caring and conscientious life style. (DVD, total playing time: 60 minutes.)”
  • Escape From Suburbia – “Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream, The End of Suburbia introduced the concept of peak oil. Now, in Escape from Suburbia, theory gives way to reality as a global debate rages over when demand will outpace supply, an emerging movement of citizens’ groups confront our addiction to oil, and three disparate characters and a small California town take on the most dramatic shift in modern history.”
  • Flow – “Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century – The World Water Crisis. Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question “CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?” Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.”
  • GasHole – “GasHole is a new documentary film about the history of Oil prices and the future of alternative fuels. The film, narrated by Peter Gallagher, features interviews with a wide range of viewpoints from US Department of Energy Officials, Congressional leaders both Democrat and Republican, Alternative Fuel Producers, Alternative Fuel Consumers (such as actor Joshua Jackson), Professors of Economics and Psychology and more… Directed by Jeremy Wagener & Scott D. Roberts, the film takes a wide, yet detailed examination of our dependence on foreign supplies of Oil. What are the causes that led from America turning from a leading exporter of oil to the world’s largest importer?  What are the economic and sociological forces that have contributed to that change and impede its solution? The film examines many different potential solutions to our oil dependence. Starting with claims of buried technology that dramatically improves gas mileage, to navigating bureaucratic governmental roadblocks, to evaluating different alternative fuels that are technologically available now, to questioning the American Consumer’s reluctance to embrace alternatives. If you buy gas, you should see this movie!”
  • Global Village or Global Pillage? – “Whether we like it or not, the global economy now affects us as consumers, as workers, as citizens, and as members of the human family. For those with wealth and power, the global economy has meant big benefits. But what does it mean for the rest of us? Are we destined to be its victims? Or can we shape its future – and our own? Global Village or Global Pillage? shows constructive ways ordinary people around the world are addressing the impact of globalization on their communities, workplaces and environments.” [Official Website]
  • GreenTreks.org – “GreenTreks Network, Inc. shares its stories through high quality television documentaries, how-to videos, web programs, radio documentaries and print media. Our programs reach millions of people who may never have otherwise taken the time to learn how they can become involved in protecting the environment, simply because they have not been exposed to localized viewpoints that compel them to care.”
  • Planet of the Humans – “Planet of the Humans dares to say what no one will-that we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road-selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late. Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business.” [Added to this list on 4 Jan 2021]
  • The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream – “Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years, so too has the suburban way of life become embedded in the American consciousness. Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream. But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.” [Official Website]
  • The Insider – “Midnight calls, clandestine meetings, threatening e-mail messages, not to mention cell phones used as obsessively as lances and shields in a jousting epic: the circuits never stop burning in this self-important but juicily entertaining public-affairs melodrama about big-time journalism and corporate villainy.” [ Amazon | IMDB | iTunes ]
  • The Lorax – “This adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book about pollution and environmental damage may be a bit heavy for younger kids. But children age six and older, as well as adults, will find much to ponder in its story of capitalist greed gone amok. The Lorax is a creature that once lived in a beautiful paradise, populated by animals and trees. When Mr. Once-Ler comes along and starts cutting down trees to make the profitable (but useless) Thneeds , the Lorax voices concern, saying, “I speak for the trees! Let ’em grow! They say I’m old fashioned and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast.” Mr. Once-Ler ignores the Lorax’s warnings, and lives to regret it. Eventually, paradise has become a barren wasteland. All the trees are cut down; the factory has closed; the animals, birds, and fish have fled; and the air is polluted. Even the Lorax is gone. The fate of the Lorax is put in the hands of a young child at the end, when the chastened Once-Ler gives him the last tree seed, with the admonition: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing will change.” The themes of capitalism, depletion of resources, and selfish affluence may be a bit heavy for kids under five, but with some parental guidance this makes for an educational and moving tale that can spark family discussions about the importance of respecting the wealth we all inherit from the natural world.” Amazon.com review by Elisabeth Keating [View online at YouTube]
  • The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil – “When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.” [Official Website]
  • The Story of Stuff – “From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.” [View Now]
  • Who Killed the Electric Car? – “In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline. Ten years later, these futuristic cars were almost entirely gone. What happened? Why should we be haunted by the ghost of the electric car?” [ Amazon | Interactive Movie Website | iTunes ]

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com