12 Very Topical Environmental Films, Documentaries and TV Series

12 Very Topical Environmental Films, Documentaries and TV Series

04.6.2020

We would like to take the opportunity of World Environment Day (5 June) to recommend a few films and television series that invite reflection on the relationship between humans and the environment.

12. Into the Wild

After graduating from university, Christopher McCandless gives away all his savings and belongings and sets off into the Alaskan wilderness. Available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Year: 2007

Director: Sean Penn

Trailer

11. Tomorrow

In this documentary, actress Mélanie Laurent travels the globe to meet people who are working to reverse the environmental damage inflicted on the planet. She discovers projects that span a wide range of fields, including agriculture, energy, economics, education and governance. The film conveys a positive message and invites viewers to get involved in initiatives to help the environment. Available on Filmin.

Year: 2015

Directors: Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent

Trailer

10. La vida en llamas [Life in flames]

Filmed with handheld cameras, this documentary tells the story of an elite forest fire brigade in Andalusia. The film features 12 firefighters who defend the natural environment against flames up to 50 metres high—a challenge faced by many thousands of professionals worldwide since “superfires” have become increasingly common. Available on Filmin.

Year: 2015

Director: Manuel H. Martín

Trailer

9. Snowpiercer

Global warming has wiped out nearly all of humankind and transformed the planet into an icy snowball. A train hurtles around the globe, carrying the only survivors—split into two clearly differentiated social classes— on an endless journey across this barren landscape. Discontent leads to revolt. A TV series based on the film was released this year. Both the film and the series are available on Netflix.

Year: 2013 (film), 2020 (TV series)

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Trailer (film)

Trailer (TV series)

8. Erin Brockovich / Rebel

Twenty years have passed since the release of Erin Brockovich. The film is based on the true story of an American paralegal who, despite her lack of academic and legal training, was instrumental in preparing a lawsuit against California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in 1993. Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts, uncovered probable links between hexavalent chromium contamination in the drinking water supply and serious health problems suffered by local residents. Brockovich’s story is also featured in Rebel, a new TV series starring Katey Sagal and Andy Garcia. The film is available on Netflix. The series was released on ABC but is not yet available in Spain.

Year: 2000 (film), 2020 (TV series)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Trailer (film)

7. Promised Land

Two corporate sales representatives travel to a small town and attempt to persuade local residents to sell drilling rights to a natural gas company. Given the recent economic downturn, they believed the townspeople would accept any offer made to them. They didn’t count on the objections of a respected local teacher and the leader of a grassroots campaign against the company. Available on Netflix.

Director: Gus Van Sant

Year: 2012

Trailer

6. The Light Bulb Conspiracy: The Untold Story of Planned Obsolescence

This excellent documentary looks at the forces behind the shrinking lifespan of electronic goods and invites us to consider whether our relentless production system is compatible with our planet’s limited resources. Based on three years of research, the film uses rare archival footage to show that most companies deliberately shorten the life of their products to increase consumer demand, with disastrous consequences for the environment.

Director: Cosima Dannoritzer

Year: 2010

Trailer

5. Dark Waters

An attorney discovers that one of the world’s most powerful companies may be responsible for a series of deaths. He puts his professional future, his family and his life on the line to prove his case. Available on Amazon Prime and Google Play.

Year: 2019

Director: Todd Haynes

Trailer

4. Bikes vs. Cars

Climate change, fossil-fuel depletion, and urban and environmental pollution have given rise to a major global crisis. The bicycle is an excellent tool for change, but it is no match for the millions spent every year to promote the automotive industry. This documentary shows how activists and thinkers are promoting sustainable bicycle-based mobility to increase the sustainability of their cities. Available on Filmin.

Year: 2015

Director: Fredrik Gertten

Trailer

3. Fire Will Come

Amador, a notorious Galician pyromaniac, returns home to live with his mother after serving time for arson. Lois, a young fire fighter, explores the depths of a burning forest. Their fates are linked by the power of a mysterious new fire. Available on Filmin and Google Play.

Year: 2019

Director: Oliver Laxe

Trailer

2. Chernobyl

This miniseries revolves around the nuclear accident that occurred on 25 April 1986 in Soviet Ukraine. A massive explosion at a nuclear power plant scattered radioactive material as far as Belarus, Russia, Scandinavia and even Western Europe. The show dramatises one of the worst manmade disasters in history and the sacrifices made to save the Soviet Union and Europe from unspeakable disaster. Available on HBO.

Director: Johan Renck

Year: 2019

Trailer

1. The Durrells

Set in the 1930s, this TV series revolves around the lives of an unconventional English family. Facing financial difficulties and concerned about the future, a widowed mother decides to move with her four children to the Greek island of Corfu to start a new life. The show is based on the popular autobiographical “Corfu trilogy” by the British naturalist, zookeeper and television presenter Gerald Durrell. All four seasons are available on Filmin and Netflix.

Director: Steven Barron

Year: 2016

Trailer

 

For more information

Environmental film forum. Collection of short and feature-length films and documentaries compiled by Scouts de España. Local groups can use this list to organise film forums focusing on environmental issues.

10 environmental documentaries that deserved to win an Oscar [in Spanish]. Susana Fernández Herrero.