Illuminating Environmental Documentaries to Start a Conversation
Have you watched any good documentaries lately? With a slew of streaming platforms at our disposal it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend beginning with these thoughtful environmental documentaries from the last three years. Immersive, challenging, intelligent and engaging, each one presents itself as an opportunity for change and encourages necessary discussions with ourselves and each other. From an environmental fable to a prophecy of climate action, these are the five documentaries we can’t stop thinking about.
The first film to be nominated for both best documentary and best international feature, Honeyland is about one of Europe’s last wild beekeepers and her struggle to survive. Beautifully shot in the mountains of North Macedonia, the filmmakers followed Hatidze Muratova for three years, documenting her daily life harvesting honey from wild hives the traditional way: “half for them, half for me”. When a family of nomadic beekeepers move in and ignore her sage wisdom and advice, Hatidze’s livelihood is threatened by the dangers of capitalism and human greed.
Where to watch: Hulu
Ice on Fire (2019)
With a standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere, the climate change documentary Ice on Fire focuses on the dangers of arctic methane gases and presents never-before-seen solutions from visionaries and scientists. Where most climate documentaries choose to illustrate Earth from distant vantage points, like satellites, director Leila Conners chose to film using a camera attached to a drone positioned at the same eye level as a human being. This allows the viewer to experience it for themselves, explains Conners: “they don't need to be told what to do; they can see it.”
Where to watch: HBO
Winner of the Green Drop Award, RiverBlue was honored as the film that best promoted sustainability in 2017. The documentary chronicles conservationist, professor and paddler Mark Angelo’s three-year river journey around the world and the damage caused to the world’s water supplies by the fashion industry. This powerful film is a sobering wakeup call for both retailers and consumers, proving that everyone has a role to play and encouraging you to continue voting in favour of planet earth by choosing environmentally-friendly products whenever possible.
Where to watch: YouTube
There’s Something in The Water (2019)
Netflix subscribers can now watch the acclaimed documentary There's Something in the Water that received standing ovations at Toronto International Film Festival last year. Based on social scientist Dr. Ingrid Waldron's book of the same name, it examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts on Indigenous and Black communities in Nova Scotia as they fight officials over the lethal effects of industrial waste. Co-directed by Nova Scotia native Ellen Page and co-produced by Waldron, the two connected after the actress tweeted her endorsement of the provocative book.
Where to watch: Netflix
From solar power to progressive farming, environmentalist Damon Gameau’s accessible climate change documentary 2040 is a bright, hopeful look ahead which imagines where we might be in 20 years if we commit to workable ‘regenerative’ community projects. Concerned about his daughter's future, he travels around the world in search of new approaches and solutions to tackle the climate emergency and presents his findings with an unusually upbeat, easygoing and can-do approach which will appeal to optimists and children alike.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime