Friday, August 8, 2008

Meaningful Movies

Last week, I posted about Sustainable Cinema - green films that have changed our lives or the lives of someone we know. While books are wonderful, some times a movie can have more visual punch or can be viewed in a shorter period of time.

The response to my Sustainable Cinema post was wonderful. So many of you exchanged ideas on movies and shared thoughtful recommendations. Because there were so many new (to me) flicks mentioned, I thought it would be helpful to compile the suggestions into a easy to access list.

I've indicated when these DVDs are available through Netflix or Blockbuster Online. Some of them can even be downloaded online. Do not forget, however, to check your local library for these movies. My library carries a fair number of them and allows community members to reserve the movie for only $.75.

If you can't get your hot little hands on these DVDs or have one to lend, the superhero known as Burbanmom has offered her Going Green with Burbanmom Yahoo Group as a place to exchange green DVDs. It will work like this: If you have a green DVD that you are willing to lend, you post a TO LEND message on her Yahoo group. You send it to the first person to respond. When that person is done watching the DVD, they post a TO LEND message and it goes to the first responder, and so on. If no one responds, the DVD goes back to the original owner. If you have a green DVD that you are unable to find and you would like to borrow it, post a TO BORROW message on the Yahoo group. If you have not yet joined the Yahoo group, what are you waiting for!
  • Blue Vinyl: This movie comes recommended by several commenters, The filmmakers unearth the truth about PVC - which was America's most popular plastic - and highlight its effects on the environment and human health. The movie is available on Netflix and BlockBuster online.
  • The Story of Stuff: This is a 20 minute movie that can be watched for free online here. It delves into the environmental, human health and community impact of the material objects we own. It received multiple recommendations and I am adding my own. Because it is both free and short, there is no reason not to watch it.
  • SuperSize Me: The subject of multiple recommendations, a groundbreaking documentary about the impact of America's fast food industry on those who eat it, it is available to download for free here. It also is available through Blockbuster and Netflix.
  • King Corn: Many commenters recommended this movie as did I. An entertaining romp through America's corn fields, it will change the way you view corn forever. This movie is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • The 11th Hour: A couple of commenters this documentary narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie examines where we are - in terms of global warming, series extinction, resource depletion - and how we can work together to overcome these converging crises. This DVD is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • Harvest of Fear: In this 2 hour long documentary, Frontline and Nova explore the battle over genetically modified food crops. This movie comes highly recommended. As it is not available to rent, it might be a good candidate for sharing on the Burbanmom Yahoo group.
  • Six Degrees Could Change the World: From National Geographic, this ninety minute documentary documents what will happen if our planet warms significantly due to global warming and explores what we can do to prevent overheating with technology and other methods. It is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • Manufacturing Consent: A documentary about Noam Chomsky, a political dissident and critic of American mass media who believes that network news serves as "thought control in a democratic society." Manufacturing Consent is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • Fast Food Nation: Commenters preferred Super Size Me to this movie. A look at the health, environmental and social consequences of our national obsession with fast food. This movie can be found through both Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • All In This Tea: A look at the history of tea, this award wining movie reconnects its drinkers with the tea farmers growing delicious harvests on the slopes of China, and examining the food system at large. This movie advocates both organic and fair trade tea. It can be found at Netflix.
  • Burning the Future: An eye opening look at coal mining and mountain top removal in Appalachia. While this movie is not a "must see", it was very compelling and informative. It is available through Netflix.
  • Affluenza: An hour long PBS movie that pre-dated the book, it delves into rampant consumerism and its impact on our community, environment and health. Check your local library for this DVD.
  • Life After People: A 2008 movie from the History Channel that explores what the world would be life, hundreds of years from now, without any human inhabitants. It can be viewed through Netflix or Blockbuster Online. It can also be downloaded online here.
  • Pale Male: This PBS movie follows the "adventures of Pale Male, a daring red-tailed hawk who manages to thrive in the urban world of New York City." It is recommended for introducing children to urban wildlife. You can rent it from Netflix.
  • The Garden: This DVD has not yet been released by you can go here to request a screening. (I did!) It concerns an urban community garden constructed in South Central LA after the riots and the fight to keep that garden from falling victim to development.
  • China Blue: A PBS documentary that uncovers the harsh life for teens who labor in a jeans factory in China. Learn where your clothes come from. I could not find this movie for rent online. Another great one to trade, if anyone has it, on Burbanmom's Yahoo group.
  • The Power of Community- How Cuba Survived Peak Oil: A movie that explores Cuba's transition from industrial agriculture to urban, organic gardens after Cuba was cut off from oil by the fall of the Soviet Union. I could not find this movie available online. Again, this DVD would be nice to pass around on the Yahoo group.
  • WalMart: The High Cost of a Low Price: This DVD examines how WalMart is able to charge such low prices - by paying its workers wages below the poverty line, crushing attempts to unionize and local businesses, and the conditions in its Third World factories. The movie is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • Black Gold: This movie exposes the truth behind our morning lattes - financial and physical struggles of coffee farmers. It is available through Netflix.
On Television:

  • Sundance Channel - The Green: Several different television series that focus on changes individuals or companies have made to reduce their environmental impact. It appears that some episodes can be viewed on the website, while most of the others are shown on the Sundance Channel. All free, of course.
  • Global Tribe: A PBS series that travels around the globe, focusing on different environmental issues. It airs several times a year on PBS.
  • Energy's Future with Alan Alda (on Connecticut Public Television)
  • It Could Happen Tomorrow - possibly on CNN

Mainstream Movies:


Abbie said...

Thanks for the great compilation! Unfortunately, since I reuse the films each year, I can't lend out my copies :( But I do show them to about 50-60 students each year, so I think it's worth owning them, haha!

Abbie said...

Oh, I wanted to add that I do a lot more than just show movies to my kids, haha! I just happen to preview a lot, and change it up from year to year. However, I try to find at least one film on every environmental topic, so if you have any questions about a film on, say, growing giant pumpkins, I can recommend Lord of the Gourds. Not really environmental, but good for my Botany class.

eco 'burban mom said...

Whoa! That's a long list there GB! I wish I had enough time in a day to actually sit through an entire movie much less compile such a great post. I guess that's why you get the green cape and mine is still at the dry cleaners! ;o)

I would like to tackle a few of these on here - a great thing to mention for anyone with TiVo or a DVR, search for any of these movies (many are playing on cable or other movie channels) or set them on a wish list to auto-record. This way you can watch the movie at your leisure at no extra charge. Seriously, the only way I can watch a TV show is to TiVo it and watch it when I have time. Bonus? No commercials, I just zip right through them!

spelled with a K said...

I'd like to add WALL-e to the mainstream list. It is a great film about what kind of world we could live in if our current habits are allowed to reach their ridiculous end.

Natalie said...

GB, you rock! You got MAD bloggy skillz, yo!

Seriously, thanks for the list. And when do you sleep, girl?

Green Bean said...

Abbie: Yeah, given your post on A Lesson in Sustainability, I can tell that you actually teach your kids . . . as much as I wanted to give you grief for showing only movies. And Lord of the Gourds sounds awesome. I'm trying my hand at (unintentionally) giant squash right now.

EcoBurbs: Ah well, I'll have to hang the cape up for the weekend I suppose. I fell down on the One Local Summer job this week. Gives you time to catch up. ;-) And great point on Tivo. We did that with King Corn when it was shown on PBS a few months back. I hope that if anyone sees any of these movies come up on TV, they post about it to give the less organized of us (e.g., me) time to record it.

Spelled with a K: Better still, you can take the kiddies to see it. Right??

Natalie: Yo, girl, glad you like ma skillz.

eco 'burban mom said...

Phew, I fell down on the One Local Summer last week, so I guess it's catching. Though, I am sure like my mine, your meals contain mostly local ingredients, so if you figure out your total for the week, you're still ahead! That's what I told myself anyway!

Green Bean said...

EcoBurbs: Totally. Pretty much every meal we eat is primarily local and each dinner has been probably 90-100% local. It's not very exciting though - corn on the cob, bread, cheese, ya know the drill. I'm too tired to write about it though. You think I can pass my relish off as "One Local Meal"? ;-)

Beany said...

Thanks for putting together this nice, organized list.

I've watched almost all the documentaries in my Business Ethics class which was quite valuable. But there are still more on my queue on Netflix that I have to watch.

Bobbi said...

Excellent list and much appreciated that you did this for us. I agree that it would be great if anyone notices that something is airing, that they share the news. Right now we're making our way through the John Adams series. I love the story but Mr. Adams was known for being pompous and Paul Giammatti is doing an great job of acting! Happy Weekend!

Mindful Momma said...

I can't thank you enough for this list! Some of these have been on my 'want to watch' list for a long time and many I have never even heard of. Now I just have to find the time to watch them...

Robj98168 said...

GREAT LIST! I am changing my netflix que right after posting this comment!

Anonymous said...

This is a great list! I will be on the lookout for these documentaries. "The Garden" movie is available at . I just learned that it is now playing in NYC at the Cinema Village. So if anyone is in the neighborhood, they can check it out there. I saw it, very interesting how these people were ahead of their time when it comes to urban gardening.

Thanks again for the list!

Green Bean said...

Beany: Wow! Wish I'd taken that class instead of wasting time dissecting Louise Erdrich's latest work. ;-)

Bobbi in So Cal: I saw bits and pieces of that Adams movie. It was quite entertaining!

Mindful Momma: I can't help you with the time factor. I'm struggling with the same thing but hey, if we find ourselves with several hours to spare, at least we'll know what to do with it.

Rob: Awesome! Glad to be of service.

Anonymous: Very interesting to hear from someone who's seen the movie. My green task force was trying to get a screening of it to drum up interest in starting a campaign to get a community garden. I'll keep you posted.

MamaBird said...

This rocks - definitely keeping this list to sub in for some mediocre pay per view. Thanks!


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