Get smarter on the couch. These documentaries are a great place to start: enlightening, shocking and inspiring all at once.
The True Cost
I’m yet to watch this film without shedding a tear. The True Cost brings to light some shocking facts about the fashion industry that beg the question: who really pays the price for our clothes? It looks at everything from the environmental impact to labour rights abuses in developing countries, to how genetically modified cotton is related to cancer incidence and suicide. The Western world’s demand for cheap, disposable fashion is destroying the planet and lives. When this film came out in 2015 it caused shock waves around the world, with people still talking about the film. A game changer for fashion.
Available on Netflix in Australia.
Before The Flood
When Leo speaks, we listen. And so he made this film; both a political statement and desperate call to arms for action. As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, the Academy Award-winner actor travels to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. He speaks with the Pope, activists in India, scientists in Greenland, and President Obama. And he urges us to think about how we’re impacting this rapid move to global climate change. Dicaprio was determined and focused on releasing this film before the US election, and it sends a powerful message to all of us that the future of our planet is a collective human responsibility.
Available for free on BBC.
Plastic Paradise is American journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun’s journey to uncover the phenomenon of the Great Pacific garbage patch. Through encounters with scientists, researchers and volunteers, she shows us that the problem – our reliance on, and consumption of, plastic – is more insidious than we think.
In 2005, environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic for a National Geographic assignment. His job was to take photos to show how the earth’s climate is changing. What he saw made him truly believe in climate change for the first time.
More Than Honey
Swiss documentary More than Honey charts the alarming rate of deaths of bee colonies around the world, from Europe to Australia to China. It examines the possible reasons for the deaths – a combination of parasites, viruses, pesticides and stress.
Even though Food, Inc focuses on American industrial food production, it’s still relevant to Australian and New Zealand society. The filmmakers explore how food systems are controlled by supermarkets and multinational companies. It uncovers how the industrial food system is designed to grow everything “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper”, impacting our health and environment.
Earthlings takes an unflinching look at our treatment of animals used for food, fashion, science and entertainment. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, with haunting music by Moby. Powerful, graphic and provocative, it’s guaranteed to change the way you view your consumer choices and even humanity itself.