Just do it: 5 must-see films that will change the way you think
Matilda Lee | 15.06.11
Films have the power to visualise and communicate in a much more accessible way than articles or books. In recent times, films have been used as tools to raise awareness about issues previously confined to niche audiences. When Al Gore's ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ came out, many, many people cottoned on to the realities of climate change. While it is impossible to measure the full impact of the film, just one small example is Stuart Rose, who once told me that seeing 'An Inconvenient Truth' was a driving force behind the creation of Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plan A’.
There are also films with hidden or implicit environmental messages. James Cameron’s sci-fi representation of human obsession with a precious mineral propelled Avatar into one of the highest grossing film to date. At the same time, millions of cinemagoers walked away with a subliminal, but deep, environmental message. Films with both an implicit and explicit environmental message have helped raise awareness.
Does awareness translate into action?
Filmmakers can inspire change by providing viewers an outlet for activism. The Age of Stupid worked, not only as it had an a-lister actor in Pete Postlethwaite, but because the film was followed by the launch of a high-profile campaign, 10:10. Charles Clover's book, the End of the Line was made into a film (if you haven't seen it, do so on BrightWide Films) which later inspired Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall's Fish Fight, as well as campaigns to shift restaurant and supermarket buying practices.
As more and more films focusing on environmental issues are released, here is a guide to upcoming films guaranteed to stir things up, to make you think and to prompt you to take action.
5 new must-see activist films
1. Just Do It
Director Emily James had unprecedented access to the UK’s activist groups such as Climate Camp and Plane Stupid. Her film is a behind-the-scenes look at the people who go to great lengths – from super gluing themselves to bank trading floors and attacking coal power stations- to make their voice heard. The premiere is at the Brixton Ritzy at 8:30pm on Friday July 15th.
2. Up in Smoke
Slash and burn agricultural techniques release more carbon dioxide into the air annually than all the world’s transport. The film follows British scientist Mike Hands, who has laboured for 25 years to perfect a sustainable technique to replace slash and burn farming in equatorial rainforests. The question is - can he get anyone to listen? The film landed a Special Honourable Mention at the recent Sheffield Doc Fest. The film will be screened at London's Frontline Club on July 25th. Follow Up in Smoke's Facebook group to find out about upcoming screenings.
As the UK has just started the controversial practice of fracking in a shale gas reserve in Lancashire , this movie, which began screening in the UK in January, is worth watching. When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled reserve in a nearby town in Pennsylvania in the US reports that residents are able to light their drinking water causing flames to ignite. This is just one of the many astonishing revelations in Gasland. There are various screenings around the UK.
Billionaire Donald Trump is determined to build the world’s greatest golf coast on one of Britain’s last stretches of wilderness, and the Scottish government is allowing it. Now Trump is running roughshod over the area’s long-term residents – and filmmaker Antony Baxter when he tries to investigate the story. Currently screened in Scotland, stay tuned for other screenings.
This film asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. It charts the life and radicalisation of Daniel McGowan while he is on house arrest as he faces life in prison, and highlights the events that led to his involvement with the radical environmentalist group, Earth Liberation Front, a group the FBI has called America's 'number one domestic terrorism threat'. The filmmaker is still in negotiations about a UK broadcast. Follow If a Tree Fall's Facebook group to stay tuned for screenings near you.
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