The list below is not just for fans of "An Inconvenient Truth," though my intention here does include some new offerings for those whose interest has been peaked by Al Gore's work. I've tried to be diverse and to offer a collection with a wide range of topics and ideas, diverse takes on delivery and perspective from both a political and a filmmaking standpoint, and a sampling of documentaries from the past few years as our collective pop culture interest in the environment has grown and changed. Included are big, easily accessed Netflix, as well as a couple of smaller movies which I felt were more than worth the dig. The films below range from the highly political to the beautifully poetic.
You're invited to add your own titles in the hopes building a list that inspires both topical dialogue and inspired filmmaking.
Manufactured Landscapes (2007)
Jennifer Baichwal's truly stunning documentary about the work of highly regarded Canadian photographer, Edward Burtylnsky. His grand, dramatic industrial landscapes shot in China and Bangladesh offer a study of the modern industrial aesthetic and the impact it has on large scale work. Aesthetically beautiful film featuring powerful imagery along with an innovative soundtrack and a fittingly lyrical message.
Who Killed the Electric Car (2006)
A fascinating look at the short but powerful life of the GM EV1 electric car. It's arrival in the mid-1990's made a splash, particularly with eco-conscious celebrities. Interviews with everyone from proud and devastated owners, former GM employees and government officials tell the story of the greener car that might have changed the world.
Satoyama: Japan's Secret Watergardens (2004)
Masumi Mizunuma's incredible documentary about the local inhabitants of a village called Satoyama in their quest to live in perfect balance and harmony with nature. Truly artful and breath-taking filmmaking shows off the amazing beauty procured by a simple reverence for the surrounding world and a pragmatic relationship with its innate functions. Aired as part of the BBC's Natural World series. (This one resonates with me on so many levels!)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Director Alex Gibney's documentary is based on Peter Elkin's book of the same title. This film artfully looks at the energy giant's downfall and the effect it had on the business world. Includes numerous, very informative interviews and information, as well as addressing the ethical questions that plague corporate America.
The World According to Monsanto
Aired on French television, Marie-Monique Robin's eye-opening documentary about the biotech giant Monsanto looks at the threat GMO's pose to agricultural diversity. An informative and truly worthwhile and throught-provoking perspective.
Flow: For the Love of Water (2008)
A global perspective on a local problem, director Irena Salina examines the relationship between human rights, politics, and the environment in her film about the growing water crisis.
The End of Suburbia (2004)
Canadian filmmaker Gregory Greene tells the story of the post-World War II concept of suburbia, why the lifestyle attracted so many people, it's effect on the environment, and questions about sustainability.
Filmmaker Joe Berlinger takes on the complex battle waged by a huge population of indigenous Ecuadorians against industrial giant Chevron for polluting the Amazon with billions of gallons of toxic oil waste. Several perspectives on the "Amazon Chernobyl" are taken in this ultimate examination of the modern day quest for justice.
Not for the faint of heart, actor Joaquin Phoenix takes a determined look at the relationship between humans and animals. Everywhere from factory farms to medical labs and puppy mills, Phoenix's documentary asks us to consider our respect for animals.
The 11th Hour (2007)
Innovative ideas and a hopeful message wrap actor Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary about the climate crisis. Players range from Mikhail Gorbachev to Stephen Hawking in this pro-active call to action.
The Future of Food (2004)
Deborah Koons Garcia examines the relationship between government, big business and agriculture in her look at genetically modified food.
Darwin's Nightmare (2004)
Hubert Sauper's provides a rarely seen snapshot of life for the hungry in Tanzania. Their waters over-fished for perch to be exported abroad, starving Tanzanian's armed with imported weapons struggle to survive in a tenuous situation and an every-man-for-himself environment.
Crude Impact (2006)
A call for the development of alternative energy sources, James Jandak Wood's takes on the history of oil and it's role in the rise of the modern industrial society. He traces the resulting environmental devastation to politics, greed, and addictive consumption.