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Environmental documentaries: the best 6 you should not miss

Best environmental documentaries

Films not only engage and excite us - often they can also serve to present a complex issue in a clear and accessible manner. A case in point are environmental documentaries. To celebrate Rome Film Fest, a Waidy partner, what better way to talk about cinema by bringing you 6 unmissable documentaries that deal with two topics very dear to our community: sustainability and the environment.

1. Cowspiracy (2014)

“Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” is an environmental documentary made in the USA in 2014, and produced and directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. The film narrates co-director Kip Andersen’s environmental awakening. In particular, this documentary sheds light on the devastating environmental impact caused by the animal industry: from deforestation through to massive water consumption and waste of resources. Cowspiracy also puts forward a solution: adopting a vegan lifestyle and a plant-based diet.

2. Before the Flood (2016)

What do Leonardo di Caprio, documentaries and the environment have in common? Well plenty, as it happens. That the Oscar-winning actor is also an environmental activist is no great secret. In fact, in 2014 he featured among the producers on Cowspiracy. In 2016, he took a step further and made a new documentary, directed by Fisher Stevens, in which he discusses climate change and its effects with some of the most influential people in the world. Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Pope Francis and John Kerry are just some of the names that appear in Before the Flood. The documentary has received numerous awards and marks a real watershed for anybody interested in environmental sustainability and the effects of climate change.

3. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth won the 2007 Oscar for best documentary feature. In the same year, thanks to his commitment in protecting the environment, the former vice president of the Clinton era was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The film sheds light on the effects of global warming and climate change. It was one of the first films to take a resolutely firm stance on the subject. Its sequel, released eleven years later in 2017, takes up the same arguments: despite the intervening years, it seems that little has changed. Global warming is getting worse, the causes are not being dealt with and its effects are likely to be more and more devastating, year after year. These two documentary films on the environment are a must-watch for anybody interested in sustainability issues.

4. A Plastic Ocean (2016)

Craig Leeson's documentary delves into the dramatic impact of plastic on our oceans. The Australian director talks about the devastating consequences of the enormous amount of plastic we pour into the seas for the entire marine ecosystem. To give just one example, in the Mediterranean Sea alone, the ratio of plankton to plastic particles is 2 to 1. This means that for every two plankton particles in our waters, there is a particle of plastic or microplastic: truly terrifying proportions! In the Pacific Ocean, there is even an 'island' formed entirely of plastic. This is called the Pacific Trash Vortex or Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is as big as Canada. What is the first step towards a possible solution? Eliminating single-use plastics. This documentary on the environment is essential for anyone seeking to understand the impact that disposable plastic has on our life and our future.

5. A Life on our Planet (2020)

Released in September 2020, this documentary film on the environment quickly made headlines, thanks to its narration by the masterful David Attenborough. The famous natural historian discusses climate change as he has witnessed it over his lifetime - and, at over 95 years old, Sir Attenborough is very well qualified to do so. The documentary is not only a snapshot of the current state of terrestrial ecosystems, but also a warning for the future. Sir Attenborough places the survival of our planet in the hands of the next generations. The film represents unmissable viewing for anybody seeking a balanced yet heartfelt account from a man who has experienced the changes in our planet firsthand and wishes to share them openly.

6. I am Greta (2020)

Released in October 2020, I am Greta: A force of nature is the only authorised documentary on the story of Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist. Nathan Grossman's film follows events ranging from Greta's first protests in front of the Swedish parliament to her famous crossing of the Atlantic. The documentary is particularly compelling because it portrays Greta Thunberg both prior to her rise to fame, when her solitary strikes received little media coverage, and over the course of the year in which the activist travelled the world without ever taking a plane. Thanks to I am Greta: A force of nature, not only do we gain insight into the birth of the media phenomenon that has grown around Greta Thunberg, but we also learn all about the beginnings of the activist movement that was subsequently inspired by her words and actions.

As we have seen, cinema and the environment can be great allies. Indeed, the visual and narrative power of films and documentaries is an excellent tool for raising awareness and promoting a greater focus on sustainability. Water also plays a fundamental role: a responsible use is the key to a sustainable future. This is the message we seek to spread at Waidy WOW , by supporting the use of plastic-free water and promoting the country's water heritage with our hydro-cinematographic walking trails . Discover them on the App!