Best Climate & Sustainability Documentaries! 🎥📺🍿
I’m starting to put together a fairly holistic guide to climate action that builds on everything I’ve learned and created in the last 3.5 years since starting Crowdsourcing Sustainability.
For it to be complete, I need to make a few more lists (so far I’ve done best climate and sustainability books, podcasts, and newsletters. As well as climate groups by profession to connect with or learn from.)
Today I’m sharing my favorite climate-related documentaries. They’re a mix of need-to-know info, mind-bending perspectives, visions of a better future, and ideas on how to actually get there.
As always, if you don’t see your favorite on here, please share it so I can check it out. Y’all have helped shape all of these lists and I am updating them over time!
Best Climate & Sustainability Documentaries
Description: The 2040 journey began with award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film). Motivated by concerns about the planet his 4-year-old daughter would inherit, Damon embarked on a global journey to meet innovators and changemakers in the areas of economics, technology, civil society, agriculture, education and sustainability. Drawing on their expertise, he sought to identify the best solutions, available to us now, that would help improve the health of our planet and the societies that operate within it. From marine permaculture to decentralised renewable energy projects, he discovered that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.
This journey is the central premise for the documentary ‘2040’, a story of hope that looks at the very real possibility that humanity could reverse global warming and improve the lives of every living thing in the process. It is a positive vision of what ‘could be’, instead of the dystopian future we are so often presented.
Director: Damon Gameau
Length: 1 hour 32 minutes
Where to watch: Depends where you live – find out here. I actually had Damon on the CS podcast recently and we’ll be hosting a 2040 screening for the CS community soon so keep your eyes open for that!
Description: Breaking Boundaries tells the story of the most important scientific discovery of our time – that humanity has pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept Earth stable for 10,000 years, since the dawn of civilization. The 75-minute film takes the audience on a journey of discovery of planetary thresholds we must not exceed, not just for the stability of our planet, but for the future of humanity. It offers up the solutions we can and must put in place now if we are to protect Earth’s life support systems.
Director: Jonathan Clay (Featuring David Attenborough and Johan Rockström)
Length: 1 hour 13 minutes
Where to watch: Netflix
Kiss the Ground
Description: Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on an “new, old approach” to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.
Directors: Joshua Tickell & Rebecca Harrell Tickell
Length: 1 hour 24 minutes
Where to watch: Netflix, Vimeo, and more.
Generation Green New Deal
Description: Generation Green New Deal is a feature documentary film about a youth-led movement that fights to tackle the climate crisis and economic inequality, amidst fierce opposition.
We are a diverse group of award-winning filmmakers & storytellers with unparalleled behind-the-scenes access to the driving forces behind the greatest political movement in a generation. This is a documentary that digs deep into the civic movement in support of a Green New Deal – a proposed package of sweeping social and economic reforms that aims to tackle climate change and economic inequality in one fell swoop.
Director: Sam Eilertsen
Length: 25 minutes
Where to watch: Vimeo
The Reluctant Radical
Description: If a crime is committed in order to prevent a greater crime, is it forgivable? Is it, in fact, necessary? The Reluctant Radical follows activist Ken Ward as he confronts his fears and puts himself in the direct path of the fossil fuel industry to combat climate change. Ken breaks the law as a last resort, to fulfill what he sees as his personal obligation to future generations. After twenty years leading environmental organizations, Ken became increasingly alarmed by both the scientific evidence of climate change and the repercussions for civilization as we know it. Ken pushed for a crisis level response from inside environmental organizations. Those efforts failed, and he now embraces direct action civil disobedience as the most effective political tool to deal with catastrophic circumstances.
The Reluctant Radical follows Ken for a year and a half through a series of direct actions, culminating with his participation in the coordinated action that shut down all the U.S. tar sands oil pipelines on October 11, 2016. The film reveals both the personal costs and also the fulfillment that comes from following one’s moral calling- even if that means breaking the law. Ken Ward has no regrets, and his certainty leaves the audience to consider if he is out of touch with reality, or if it is the rest of society that is delusional for not acting when faced with the unsettling evidence that we are collectively destroying our world.
Director: Lindsey Grayzel
Length: 1 hour 17 minutes
Fire in Paradise
Description: On 8th November, 2018, a fire broke out in California near the town of Paradise. Over the course of a few hours, the Camp Fire grew into the country’s deadliest wildfire in over a century. Through first-hand footage of the disaster and interviews with survivors and responders, FIRE IN PARADISE retells the survival stories from that day.
Directors: Zackary Canepari & Drea Cooper
Length: 39 minutes
Where to watch: Netflix. Different film with the same name is on YouTube, and also quite good.
Description: We are in the midst of a global crisis of perspective. We have forgotten the undeniable truth that every living thing is connected.
PLANETARY is a provocative and breathtaking wakeup call – a cross continental, cinematic journey, that explores our cosmic origins and our future as a species. It is a poetic and humbling reminder that now is the time to shift our perspective. PLANETARY asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us – to remember that we are PLANETARY.
Directors: Guy Reid & Steve Watts Kennedy
Length: 1 hour 25 minutes
Where to watch: Vimeo
The Art of Protest
Description: Welcome to a never-before-seen tour of the creations by resistance artists around the world. From the streets of Moscow to the shores of Los Angeles and featuring interviews with Tom Morello, Dave Navarro, Moby, Shepard Fairey and more, this powerful film brings a message of hope and change through radical resistance and righteous social uprising.
Director: Colin M. Day
Length: 45 minutes
Where to watch: RollingStone
The Biggest little Farm
Description: The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.
Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.
Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals, and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, The Biggest Little Farm provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.
Director: John Chester
Length: 1 hour 31 minutes
Where to watch: Prime, Hulu, YouTube, others.
Hope you enjoy some of these gems!