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101: Documentary films

Problem:

Poor communication can lead to ignorance of the dangerous situations which the Planet has deteriorated.

Solution:

Well-made and promoted documentary films urging solutions to protect the Planet.


From 1903, with British cinematographer F. Martin Duncan’s Unseen World series about microscopic creatures, the big screen has served that purpose.

Between 1968 and 1975, the television series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau focussed on marine biodiversity and warned that life in the oceans had diminished 40 % in just 20 years.

Following former United States Vice President Al Gore’s bestseller book Earth in the Balance, and his slide show An Inconvenient Truth given to over one thousand audiences worldwide, from 2006 a namesake film version became the eleventh highest grossing documentary film to date in the United States.

In 2007, billionaire actor Leonardo DiCaprio co-wrote and narrated 11th Hour. Through interviews with experts in many scientific fields, as well as prominent activists and politicians, the film seeks to convince viewers, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the planet is in danger and that action needed to be taken immediately if we are to have any chance of reversing the negative consequences.

In the UK, the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) is best known for its highly regarded nature documentaries presented by David Attenborough. Life on Earth: A Natural History sold to 100 territories and was watched by an estimated audience of 500 million people worldwide. In Blue Planet II (2017) and Climate Change – The Facts, Sir David, aged 93, discusses the science of climate change and possible solutions to counteract it, including plastic recuperation.

In 2019 Australian actor-turned-filmmaker Damon Gameau took a different approach in his film 2040, Join the Regeneration. In this he structures the film as a one-way conversation with his four-year-old daughter, who will be 25 when the titular year arrives and, he hopes, part of a brighter and better world.

Gameau’s documentary bills itself as a “journey to explore what the future could look such as by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us.”

Working with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), The Anthropocene Project, created by renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and award-winning filmmakers Nicholas de Pencier and Jennifer Baichwal is a multidisciplinary body of work combining fine art photography, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research to investigate human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of the Earth.

Through evocative photography, a documentary, 360° cinematography, and captivating augmented-reality installations, this multimedia project explains the emergence of the Anthropocene epoch, distinguished by human-caused changes to our planet. As part of this the RCGS offered #OnlineClassroom, its free, bilingual learning tools to all Canadians to support teachers, parents and students isolating at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I Am Greta is a 2020 internationally co-produced documentary film directed by Nathan Grossman, following climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

What you can do: Download and watch these movies.

Discover Solution 102: Dopper bottle from Holland

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