Environmental Popcorn II : Green Documentaries

Most people watch movies to be entertained or for escapism, but film can also serve another purpose. Documentary films can introduce viewers to new human (or animal) experiences and can challenge viewers to reflect on their own lives. In celebration of the 85th Academy Awards I have compiled a list of environmentally themed Academy Awards Nominated feature length documentaries from the last few years.  Happy viewings!

If A Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011)

If A Tree Falls  takes an inside look at the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a radical environmental group which the FBI has labeled America’s ‘number one domestic terrorist threat’. By focusing on the story of Daniel McGowan, a member arrested in 2005 and given a life sentence for committing arson, the movie explores the issues of environmentalism, activism, and terrorism.

GasLand (2010)

After being asked to lease his property for natural gas drilling, Filmmaker Josh Fox goes decides to investigate the safety and secrets behind the fast growing industry of fracking.

Waste Land (2010)

Contemporary artist Vik Muniz travels to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where he forms a relationship with  the catadores, pickers of recyclable materials found in the landfill.

The Cove (2009) (Winner)

A group of animal activists travel to Japan to expose the maltreatment of dolphins who are being slaughtered for meat, even though consumption of dolphin meat can pose as a serious health risk.

Food, Inc (2008)

Food, Inc takes a critical look at food production industry, which has changed drastically since the 1950’s. The documentary examines the negative impacts corporations, science, and technology, can have on human and environmental health.

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica with a mission to document it’s breathtaking beauty and the unique personalities of the scientists who choose to live there.

The Garden (2008)

After the L.A. riots in 1992, a 14-acre blighted field gets turned into the largest community garden in the United States, but when a decade later the land get’s sold to a private contractor and community members must fight back if they want to keep their oasis.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006) (Winner)

Ex-Vice President (and present environmentalist) Al Gore presents the case for the existence of  global warming and the potential impact it may have worldwide.

Darwin’s Nightmare (2006)

Darwin’s Nightmare explores the impacts of globalization. When Nile perch were introduced to Lake Victoria in Tanzania they quickly dominated the eco system. The fish are now so plentiful they are exported around the world in exchange for guns and ammunition.

March of the Penguins (2005) (Winner)

March of the Penguins chronicles the epic migration of the regal yet quirky emperor penguin.


Notes: Unfortunately, at this time I admit to have only seen the film March of the Penguins, so I have turned to IMDB.com (the Internet Movie Data Base) for help. Trailers for the movies are mostly available on the movies official web page and can be found on IMDB.com as well. I have provided the necessary links.

Also, please feel free to share your opinions about the movies or recommend environmental documentary’s of your own liking.  And if you’re a fan of watching movies but not a big fan of documentaries check out my article from last year.

Popcorn via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Sunday, February 24th, 2013 at 11:35
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