Whether you enjoy fiction, documentaries, animations, or sci-fi thrillers, there is guaranteed to be something on this list of movies on sustainability that you will enjoy. Allow the films to not only educate you, but inspire you to keep the grass-roots sustainability movement moving. The daunting effects of climate change may be intimidating, but there is hope in numbers!
The Island President
On the front lines of the fight against climate change is Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives Islands. The Maldives are amongst the first populated regions whose citizens’ livelihood are in jeopardy as sea levels continue to rise. Nasheed works relentlessly to raise global awareness about the dire situation in the Maldives and works equally as hard within his country to save his people.
Starring Matt Damon as a corporate salesman who is morally conflicted when he visits a rural town to acquire drilling rights for a natural-gas company. The movie explores the power of grass-roots movements and the good-will of humanity as it relates to protecting our natural world from corporate demagogues. The small town, declining economically, has no desire to sell out to the natural gas company.
Before the Flood
A 2016 film featuring Leanardo DiCaprio as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, DiCaprio travels the world to discuss climate change and potential solutions with top scientists and world leaders. The documentary further uncovers a powerful disinformation campaign with the purpose of miseducation for the general public to see the real threats of climate change.
Based on a true story, Julia Roberts stars as Erin Brockovich in a film where disease is running rampant in a small community. Erin stumbles upon real estate records that expose the ugly truth: the water is contaminated and it’s being covered up. Erin travels many miles to visit the victims and convinces them to testify in court.
This Changes Everything
Filmed over 211 days in nine different countries, this documentary was inspired by This Changes Everything the book. The documentary examines seven communities worldwide that are the first to feel the devastating effects of climate change, global warming, and the destruction of our natural world. Unlike other documentaries on environmental issues, this is not meant to scare, but rather empower the viewer towards making radical and productive changes.
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi
In a 1973 ecological dystopian thriller set in 2022, a police officer discovers the truth behind a secret ingredient within a synthetic food. Although the connection to sustainability may seem like a stretch at first, the film displays many factual undertones of the dangers of overusing chemicals in agriculture – with some exaggeration, of course.
An Inconvenient Truth
Genre: Concert, Documentary
A highly controversial 2006 film surrounds former United States Vice President Al Gore’s attempt to educate the world about global warming. The film is credited for reigniting the environmental movement and raising global awareness of the effects of climate change. Although many claims within the movie are controversial even today, there is no doubt that this documentary sparked a conversation about global warming.
A 2009 film based on an environmental disaster in Ecuador that triggered tens of thousands of Ecuadorians to file a lawsuit against Chevron. This documentary explores the biological and humanitarian issues surrounding the oil industry in underprivileged countries. The movie demonstrates the real magnitude of how much control and power that big corporations such as Chevron have over humanity and the natural world.
Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez
A 2008 documentary that explores the lasting effects of ExxonMobil’s Exxon Valdez oil spill. A tanker ran aground in the small town of Cordova, Alaska, and spilled millions of gallons of crude oil into the ocean. This disaster quickly became the largest environmental catastrophe in the history of North America. The documentary explores the lasting impacts that the spill has had on the fisheries of Alaska and how their legal battle with oil giant ExxonMobil still has not come to a close.
The Man Who Planted Trees
Genre: Animation, Short
A pungent and profound short of a French shepherd’s lonely quest to plant trees and in a barren valley, giving it life once again. The animated short is based on a true story of a French man who is credited for transforming an entire region of France into a lush, inhabitable forest by planting trees one at a time.
Further reading: Books on sustainability