best environmental films movies documentaries

Up until now, it’s been hard to track down the best environmental movies. Sure, there’s the odd ‘top 10’ list here and there. Those lists tend to be short and pick off a few of the obvious films (like An ‘Inconvenient Truth’.) In fact, there are many great green films out there.

In this list, you’ll find a comprehensive round-up of the best environmental movies – new and old – here in one place. We’re up to 100 environmental films and counting as we keep adding the best of the new releases.

To make it easier we’ve put them in categories for you. (You can click on the link to jump down to that category.)

DRAMATISATION

Born Free
China Syndrome
Dances With Wolves
Dark Waters
Deepwater Horizon
Erin Brockovich
Silkwood
Gorillas in the Mist
Into the Wild
Safe
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Woman at War
Honourable mention: Chinatown.

SCIENCE FICTION

Avatar
Children of Men
The Age of Stupid
The Day After Tomorrow
The Road
Silent Running
Honourable mention: Interstellar.

KIDS MOVIES

Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest
Bambi
Free Willy
Happy Feet
Horton Hears a Who
Moana
Over the Hedge
The Lion King
The Lorax
Whale Rider
Wall-E

KIDS DOCUMENTARIES

Play Again
Nature Play
Saving My Tomorrow

 

BUSINESS

A New Economy
Banking Nature
Fossil Free
The Carbon Rush
The Corporation
The Economics of Happiness

SOLUTIONS

Carbon Nation
Catching the Sun
Demain (Tomorrow)
Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution Trailer
Life Off the Grid
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Switch: The Future of Energy

SUSTAINABILITY

Cross of the Moment
Surviving Progress
The Wisdom to Survive
Time to Choose

 

CLIMATE


2040
An Inconvenient Sequel
An Inconvenient Truth
Before The Flood
Climate Refugees
Do The Math
The 11th Hour
The Age Of Consequences
This Changes Everything
Honourable mention: Years of Living Dangerously (documentary tv series)

PSYCHOLOGY

The Human Element
Merchants of Doubt

GREEN LEADERS

Force of Nature (David Suzuki)
Harmony (Prince Charles)
I Am Greta (Greta Thunberg)
Jane (Jane Goodall)
The Island President (Mohamed Nasheed)
Watson (Paul Watson)

GREEN PEOPLE

Chasing Ice
Guided
How to Let Go of the World (and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change)
My Octopus Teacher
No Impact Man
The Diver
The Reluctant Radical

ADVENTURERS

Big River Man
180° South
Grizzly Man
Maidentrip

POPULATION

Human Flow
Mother – Caring for 7 Billion

ADVOCACY

A Fierce Green Fire: the battle for a living planet
Disruption
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
How to Change the World
Earth Days
Disobedience
Elemental

PLACES

In the Shadow of the Moon
Island Earth
Encounters at the End of the World
Monsoon
The Discarded: A Tale of Two Rios
The River and the Wall

CLOTHING

The True Cost
River Blue

HOUSING

Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life
Blue Vinyl
Garbage Warrior
Tiny: A Story About Living Small

FOOD and AGRICULTURE

A Place at the Table
Artifishal
Black Gold
Dirt! The Movie
Evolution of Organic
Fast Food Nation
Fed Up
Food, Inc
Food for Thought, Food for Life
Food Patriots
Fresh – New Thinking About What We’re Eating
Ingredients
King Corn
Seeds of Time
Seed: The Untold Story
Sustainable
The Biggest Little Farm
The Future of Food
The Gateway Bug

URBAN AGRICULTURE

Can You Dig This
Growing Cities
Urban Roots

FOOD WASTE

Just Eat It – a food waste story
Dive!
Food Fighter
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

VEGETARIANISM

At The Fork
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Dominion
Earthlings
Eating Animals
Forks Over Knives

GM FOOD

GMO OMG
Genetic Roulette
The World According to Monsanto

BEES


Honeyland
More Than Honey
Queen of the Sun: what are the bees telling us
Vanishing of the Bees

POLLUTION


Gasland
Into Eternity
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
The City Dark
The Devil We Know
The Human Experiment
The Politics of Pollution: Toxic Soup
Unfractured

CONSUMERISM AND WASTE

Bag It: Is your life too plastic?
Death By Design
Landfill Harmonic
Minimalism
The Clean Bin Project
The Story of Plastic
Trashed
Waste Land
Honourable mention: The Story of Stuff (YouTube video)

OIL

A Crude Awakening
After The Spill
Big Men
Crude
Fuel
Houston We Have A Problem
Pipe Dreams
The Great Invisible

COAL

Dirty Business: “clean coal” and the battle for our energy future
The Last Mountain

CARS

Bikes v Cars
Idle Threat
Pump
Revenge of the Electric Car
Who Killed the Electric Car?

CITIES

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Contested Streets
The End of Suburbia
The Human Scale
Urbanized

CONSERVATION and ANIMALS

Albatross
Racing Extinction
Revolution
Serengeti Rules
The Burning Season

OCEANS

Atlantic
Blue
Chasing Coral
Freightened
Oceans
Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Sea of Shadows
Sonic Sea

OCEAN CREATURES

Blackfish
Sharkwater
Sushi: The Global Catch
The Cove
The End of the Line
The Whale

WATER

Flow
Tapped
Watermark
Blue Gold: world water wars
DamNation
Last Call at the Oasis
Lost Rivers

NATURE

Animals in Love
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
Earth
March of the Penguins
Microcosmos
Winged Migration
Honourable mentions: David Attenborough TV documentaries e.g. The Blue Planet and Our Planet 

VISUAL SPECTACULARS

Baraka
General Orders No.9
Home
Koyaanisqatsi
Mountain
Planetary
Samsara

 

Environmental films – some observations

Here are some observations about all these environmental films as a whole:

Exposure
Very few green films get wide exposure or even a run at movie theatres. (‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is one of the few standouts.) Yet there are many great environmental films out there. The vast majority fall under the radar.

Categories
We’ve categorised these films for you. This came about as we compiled them. We started to see patterns with sub-categories of green films. Hope this helps if you have an interest in one of those areas.

The sum total
When you put the message of them all together, it is a little confronting. Some might say depressing. But that’s what we’ve got: a planet with systems in decline on multiple fronts – thanks to the weight of human activity. We all need to get our heads around it and understand how we are affecting our home – planet Earth.

That’s why these films together are so important. They’re a big wake up call. It ain’t just climate change we need to worry about. That’s just one symptom of an even larger challenge. Humans have put all of the Earth’s systems under pressure. We need to live sustainably on this planet. That’s the big picture.

Old and new
The list includes films from many decades ago (when only the odd green film came out) to recent time – when there’s a swag of new green movies released each year. It’s possibly a sign of growing awareness of the problems that there seems to be an ever-increasing number of environmental films. Or maybe the problems are getting bigger. Or both.

Honorable mentions
We’ve mostly steered clear of TV and video programs as we’ve wanted to stay focused on film. There are some honourable mentions in our list – which tend to be pieces that have been largely produced for TV.

 

Your turn

Have we missed any great green films? Let us know what they are in the comments.

Keep an eye on this list too. We’ll be adding other good ones as they’re released. Our intention is to make this the complete reference for finding the best environmental films.

 

Related posts

We do roundups of the best of what’s happening in the media when it comes to the environment and sustainability. Check out our ‘Best Environmental Media‘ section.

Phil Stubbs

Blogger, Podcaster, Producer at The Environment Show

Environmental Podcaster, Blogger and Producer at The Environment Show. I'm based in Sydney, Australia.

1 Comment
  1. You might want to include Sharkwater Extinction – it has won over 50 awards since its release at TIFF in 2018 and is still in demand at festivals and environmental conferences worldwide .

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