It's been a great year for green-themed cinema. When we looked at the Academy Award lineup of films, we were thrilled to see a number of environmentally focused documentaries nominated for the 2011 Oscars. Unfortunately none of these excellent nominees won a gold statue, but we're happy to see them nominated all the same, and hope this platform elevates the profile of these important issues. If you are interested in documentaries, definitely check out the four below.
Gasland is the a visually provocative story by writer director Josh Fox who was inspired to explore the dangers of gas drilling when he was offered money to drill at his property in Pennsylvania. Certainly one of the most controversial films up for nomination, Gasland documents sever health and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing. The provocative film has raised the ire of the gas mining industry with its nomination but has been well received by both critics and land owners.
Finding triumph in trash, Waste Land follows renowned NY/Brazilian artist Vik Muniz as he ventures from his home in Brooklyn to the world’s largest landfill Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. In this slum, the ‘catadores’ (the colorful characters who pick for recyclables) dig the refuse for recycle materials such as plastic, metal and other sellable items. This uplifting story focuses on the colorful characters who work as pickers at the landfill and the art project they engage in with Muniz to document their lives and shine a light on waste, poverty and the environment.
Sun Come Up is a documentary about the people living on the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea, who face an imminent threat to their land from rising sea levels due to climate change. Sun Come Up focuses on the Carteret Islander’s struggle to leave their home island and seek a new home as raising water levels make their land uninhabitable. The Carteret Islanders are met with a complex and aggressive culture as they seek a new home on the Papua New Guinea mainland. This film is a chilling look at just the beginning of what will be a common occurrence of climate change refugees.
Warriors of Quigang is a documentary focused on a Chinese village overwhelmed by the pollution of industry. The farmer Zhang Gongli’s field is flooded with toxic effluent from a newly open factory adjacent to his land. When he failed in court to stop the damage he is joined by the village in opposing the polluting industries. The films follow the villager’s efforts to stop the environmental destructive and painful subjugation of a population’s health to feed the world’s insatiable hunger for cheap goods. The five year struggle brings the community closely together to protect their own and their children’s future.