The situation is this. It’s a snuggly Sunday winters evening and the debauchery of the festive period and weekend indulgences are slowly creeping up on you. Strictly Come Dancing – The Results show doesn’t quite tickle your fancy and you need a good old thought provoking documentary for a more green, less guilty screening before the new week begins. I’ve compiled a election of my favourite film features in no particular order that span environmental, socially responsible and economic topics with a blurb for more contextualization. Warning: Sustainable Netflix & Chill may cause feelings of extreme frustration, compulsion to overhaul human behavior or hire a hitman to take out a certain leader of the ‘free world’. Added benefits include: a refreshed perspective on some daunting issues and retention of crazy statistics that might just help you win the local pub quiz.
Love A. X
P.S. This post is dedicated to and in appreciation of all the true friends and MVPs that actually fund and pay for the Netflix account so you can screen for free.
1.The True Cost
A powerful piece of film, The True Cost juxtaposes the glamour of fashion weeks, our obsession with beauty, and the delivery of the latest trends at rapid pace alongside the direct impact it bears on the underdeveloped societies propped up by this $2.4trillion fashion industry. (My feature on the exploration of fast fashion and global value chains can be found here)
2. An Inconvenient Truth (Part I &II)
The dubious counting of the US election results in 2000 resulted in a missed Presidential opportunity for Al Gore. Arguably, the work and movement he has dedicated his time to since then has had a more profound impact than if he had assumed power in the White House.
Contextualising the climate issue, understanding the politicisation of clear scientific facts, and explaining how global warming can be mitigated to avoid irreversible damage, this 2006 AcademyAward winning documentary is a must-watch.
Fast forward to 2017; An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power demonstrates the trajectories of climate issues within the last decade. The insights and intimate coverage of the Gore team during the2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris are particularly memorable.
3. What The Health
With levels of diabetes and obesity at alarmingly high rates in the Western world, this American focussed documentary provides a narrative to an investigation on how big businesses/pharma companies/health organisations are subverting the truth about what people put into their bodies! The masking of the true dangers and long term health implications of particular lifestyle choices to benefit shareholders of large consumer corporations is worrying. If you love this, take a read of ‘The China Study’ where Dr. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist and scientist burrows into the benefits of incorporating plant-based lifestyle to cure and prevent illness.
4. Minimalism – A Documentary About The Important Things
Fatigued from Black Friday and CyberMonday? Running out of space in your room for things you never use/wear? This is the one for you. Minimalism explores why as humans we believe we need to have ‘things’ to be fulfilled. The protagonists pursuing simplicity and minimal lifestyles of this documentary have noble intentions although I’m sure none of us will be cutting down to a mere suitcase of possessions anytime soon. Keep your eyes peeled for Project 333 featured, a minimal fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months (Guess what, nobody notices!).
5. Before The Flood
My favourite man, Leonardo DiCaprio covering my least favourite topic, climate change. Much like An Inconvenient Truth, this is a compelling film produced in association with National Geographic that, in addition to the environmental consequences our planet is currently facing, weighs in on the cost of inaction for future generations. The dramatic storytelling showcases how the rising levels of inequality and how the provision of basic human rights such as clean air, land and water that are currently being denied by the effects of global warming. Levelling this disparity can be remedied by humanitarian efforts, addressing the energy crisis and the lobbying of elected leaders.
6. A Plastic Ocean
It’s no secret, the UK is awakening to the catastrophes and damaging effects of plastic to our oceans, eco systems and biodiversity. The revelations of scientific researchers in ‘A Plastic Ocean’ are startling, with humans having produced more plastic inthe last ten years than in the previous century, combatting and mitigating this pandemic issue is no small feat. In addition, the notion of more plastic than plankton is enough to drive any of us to boycott this polymeric material for good. Produced in 2016, this is a topical film that inspects the effects and dangers of microplastics. It was only last week a video went viral of a dead whale in Indonesia was found with over 1000 pieces of plastic (including flip flops and 100+ drinking cups) were found in the contents of its stomach. For further watching I recommend the BBC’s ‘Drowning in Plastic documentary’.
Visually spectacular, Terra traces the history of how the human race has evolved in congruence with other species on our planet. Narrated by Vanessa Paradis, her ultra-soothing French voice guides us through our relationship with nature and in contrast to much of the doom and gloom of documentaries that cover climate issues, installs a sense of positivity that all is not lost.
8. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
If you’re looking for the extra motivation to begrudgingly commit to the impending ‘Veganuary’ movement, this is the one for you. Probably the most widely watched documentary on veganism, albeit a tad one sided failing to capture sustainable local farming of animals, the research and scientific investigations explore the environmental tolls of large-one-sided agriculture on our planet.
Watching Sustainable is refreshing as it assumes a positive tone to its messaging regarding our connections with farming and the sustainable sourcing of food. Although another US centric documentary, the principles are universally applicable. With global population, predicted to hit 9-10 billion by 2050, the humanitarian and ethical considerations in the way we produce and locally/seasonally source food will have substantially positive impacts for future generations. On a more holistic tangent, it emphasises the importance of human connections, communities and closing the gap on merely viewing food as a mass-produced industrial commodity. It promotes the creation of relationships with the farmers/growers providing us with our sustenance and puts a face behind your food.
10. Theatre of Life
You may recogniseMassimo Bottura as the dreamy Italian chef behind Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, a 3* Michelin establishment consistently ranked amongst the best restaurants in the world (Ref: Chef’s Table Season 1 –Episode 1). Massimo is far more than meets the culinary eye, his humanitarian endeavours for social inclusion and the zero waste movement are inspiring. Inthis production, Theatre of Life follows Massimo and a team of highly acclaimed chefs reusing the food waste of Expo Milano 2015 to feed refugees and homeless dwellers of the city. Looking beyond charity to innovating with unwanted food, Massimo also ran a kitchen during the 2016 Rio Olympics that utilized the remaining product from the Olympic village designed to feed 18,000 athletes to create dinner for 70 homeless each evening. In summary; in a world of Gordon’s Hell’s Kitchen, be a Massimo.