Movies that Matter – Issue 10

To learn about the world’s problems and the creative solutions needed to overcome them, often means searching for the hidden gems of material buried deep under the banal and ordinary. For the time-poor majority in our society, film is an unrivalled medium for informing and inspiring. The movies that matter are the ones that have the potential to change minds and inspire action!

Two new movies that matter have made it onto our must-watch list in this issue of SHIFT…

New releases:

Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
  • Released: 2015
  • Running time: 92 minutes
  • Viewing options: This documentary can be streamed or downloaded from the Inhabit film website, which also provides a range of screening options.

To many of us humankind seems hellbent on a spiral of self-destruction, and we are taking much of the biosphere down with us. Threatened by our own folly we hear much about the need to reduce our ecological footprints and thus our impact on the planet.

Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective turns this view on its head and asks us how things might be different if our footprints were beneficial, footprints we want to leave behind. Presenting humans as a keystone species – a species defined as key to its environment – this documentary explores a fundamentally different perspective on our position in the web of life. Concluding that humans can be healing forces, not just harmful, this film show how we can better meet our needs while also regenerating the health of our planet.

Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective explores the myriad environmental issues facing us, and examines the solutions proposed by permaculture, a design process based on replicating patterns found in nature. Focusing on some of the communities and practices of the permaculture movement, this film showcases the power of humankind to act as a force for good in harmony with the rest of the natural world.

Breath of Life
  • Released: 2015
  • Running time: 82 minutes
  • Viewing options: This documentary can be rented or purchased online from the Breath of Life film website, which also provides a range of other viewing options.

Breath of Life charts a spectacular course across the globe in search of the truth behind our looming environmental catastrophe. A cinematic treat for the senses, this film is bound to inspire awe at the power and beauty of the natural world.

Building on the already abundant critique on how we are destroying our world, Breath of Life goes a step further in investigating why. The psychology behind our assault on our precious biosphere is in desperate need of investigation, and this documentary lifts the veil on the tricky topic of how who we are is impacting the planet. It’s a dose of tough-love, and the revelation that we are stealing from the future is a vitally important take-home message.

From experts such as Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Joseph Tainter to down to earth farmers and indigenous activists, Breath of Life showcases insights that challenge mainstream worldviews. Collectively they offer potential solutions, and point to the groundbreaking possibilities that might emerge if passionate activists and ordinary folks everywhere were to trust in their ability to positively impact the future.

Play catch-up:

Ever feel like you’re running to stand still when it comes to getting on top of what’s going on in the world? We feel that way all the time, so we’ve rubbed our heads together in a collaborative effort to get up to speed. Here’s where we play catch-up, with audio-visual recommendations for getting you up to speed with discoveries and developments in the world of science and their implications for sustainability…

Unintended Consequences

Gasland Part I
  • Released: 2010
  • Running time: 1:42:50
  • Viewing options: This documentary can be viewed online free of charge at Films for Action.

Saudi America is the nickname given to the United States’ vast stores of natural gas unlocked by Halliburton’s hydraulic fracturing technology – aka fracking. In the heart of Saudi America’s gasland filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling. Unswayed by the promise of money, Fox embarks on a cross-country voyage of discovery, revealing industry secrets, lies and dangerous contamination of the most precious of all resources – water.

Part exposé, part travelogue, part showdown, Gasland is punctuated by scenes of a gas-masked Fox playing his banjo at the eerie fracking sites that pepper the nation’s countryside and divide communities over short-term wealth versus long-term health.

Gasland Part II
  • Released: 2013
  • Running time: 2:05:18
  • Viewing options: This documentary can be viewed online free of charge at Films for Action.

Following the success of Gasland, Josh Fox returns three years later with a second installment of the saga that pitches communities against corporations in a battle reminiscent of David versus Goliath. Gasland Part II documents how the stakes have been raised on all sides as the fracking phenomenon encircles the globe.

Documenting the hidden consequences of fracking, Gasland Part II gets into issues such as the climate impact of escaping methane emissions from fracked wells, as well as severe water contamination across the US and Australia.

Into Eternity
  • Released: 2009
  • Running time: 75 minutes
  • Viewing options: Various viewing options for this film can be accessed via the Into Eternity website.

An often-forgotten predicament, the question of what to do with the large amounts of nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants is the subject of this documentary. At present no long-term storage solution exists, and the interim storage units in which nuclear waste is currently kept are vulnerable to natural and human-caused disasters.

Into Eternity documents the building of the world’s first permanent nuclear waste repository. Based in Finland and hewn out of solid rock, the Onkalo Project’s vast system of underground tunnels needs to last 100,000 years, making it a unique project for humankind in technical and philosophical terms, transcending the magnitude of all previous human endeavours.

Into Eternity delves into the previously unexplored questions of how to maintain such a repository over a time-frame that is barely comprehensible, and how to communicate the necessity of leaving Onkalo untouched across millennia of change in culture, language, and even civilization.

Caring for the Natural World

DIRT! The Movie
  • Released: 2009
  • Running time: 86 minutes
  • Viewing options: The full-length film can be viewed online via streaming, downloaded, or purchased on DVD from

An homage to the living, breathing skin of our planet, DIRT! The Movie takes the viewer on a journey to discover the wonders of the soil. It tells the story of our most valuable yet underappreciated resource – from its formation to its degradation and devastation. Featuring the stories of experts from around the world this documentary casts soil in a new light, pointing out its environmental, economic, social and political importance.

DIRT! The Movie challenges our notion of what dirt is, unleashing a call to action to preserve this most precious of resources that underpins our very survival.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
  • Released: 2014
  • Running time: 85 minutes
  • Viewing options: The full-length film can be downloaded or purchased on DVD from the Cowspiracy website.

Trampling the sacred territory of the environment movement, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he investigates the fear behind the sector’s silence on what is arguably the world’s most destructive industry: animal agriculture.

Animal agriculture is the key factor in most deforestation, accounts for a huge proportion of our water consumption and environmental pollution, and is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the widely vilified transport industry. A primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, and oceanic dead zones, destructive animal agriculture persists almost entirely unchallenged.

This documentary reveals what appears to be an intentional refusal to engage on the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs come under fire from powerful industry forces.

Speciesism: The Movie
  • Released: 2013
  • Running time: 94 minutes
  • Viewing options: Various viewing options for this film can be accessed via the Speciesism website.

Speciesism: The Movie sets out to investigate the farming of animals for food in remote industrial factory-farming operations, and explores down the conceptual rabbithole of speciesism.

The notion that humans are inherently more important than members of other species comes under scrutiny in this documentary. A growing number of public opinion leaders and activists are coming to the conclusion that humans are not naturally superior, and are investigating the implications this has for our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.

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