Eco-Film Picks – Movies with a Message Worth Watching

 

As movie-making technology has become less expensive and more accessible, eco-films have exploded onto the scene. While companies like National Geographic and Discovery Channel continue to contribute high-quality nature films, independent eco-filmmakers are also releasing inspired films almost by the day. Because most of these movies run less than 90 minutes, they have become sought-after teaching tools for family movie nights, school classrooms and readers looking for a break from books.

It was a tough call, but after reviewing 50 standouts, Natural Awakenings picked five films highly favored for their clear message, entertainment value and motivating call to action.

FOOD, INC.: Producers present the whole enchilada when it comes to understanding what we eat and the implications of our food choices. Beyond a plateful of facts, it’s also packed with entertaining graphics. The climax answers the inevitable viewer question: “This is an appalling situation, but what can I do about it?” Attention parents: There is a documentary-style scene showing mistreatment of an ailing cow to fast-forward through; otherwise, the coast is clear.

TAPPED: Filmmakers tackle two significant issues facing the modern world: the emerging scarcity of water and the staggering quantity of plastic bottle waste. Images of the Texas-sized floating island of garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean will make us think seriously about kicking the bottled water habit for good.

A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS: Anyone taking up the first lady’s call to home vegetable gardening will revel in this film’s portrayal of the many ways local gardens provide communities with gifts of food, knowledge, empowerment and reconciliation. A Community of Gardeners shows that local gardening is so much more than a labor-intensive solution to the ills of the manufactured-food industry; it is also good for the soul.

THE END OF THE LINE: Much as the eco-film standard bearer, An Inconvenient Truth, sounds the alert on global warming, The End of the Line reports on the troubled state of the rapid decline of the fish stocks that feed the world. Similarly, the film highlights how viewers’ everyday choices can stop contributing to the problem.

FUEL: Civilization’s era of crude oil and other fossil fuels is rapidly coming to a close, while the future of energy has yet to be written. The replacement technologies for alternative sustainable energies are already understood, if not widely promoted. Many are ready to be put to work now and await only our adoption. Next-generation technologies also beckon. Fuel, a Hollywood-style documentary featuring such environmental spokespersons as Woody Harrelson and Sheryl Crow, proves that the future of energy is as much about imagination and creativity as it is about kilowatt-hours.

Contributors include Michael Curran, health writer, and Michael D’Estries, film reviewer.

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