Films

Avatar (2009)

Dean Spanley is firected by the New Zealand film-maker Toa Fraser. It’s set in Edwardian England immediately after the Boer War and is about the relationship between an elderly, self-centred widower Horatio Fisk and his son, the dedicated Henslowe, who seeks to console him but can’t win his love. The question of dogs being reincarnated as humans arises and they meet Dean Spanley, a dignified cleric who eventually – under the influence of alcohol –  reveals himself to be the reincarnation of a Victorian spaniel called Wag. It is a heart-warming well made film.

Grow Your Own (2007) is a  British film directed by Richard Laxton. The film centres around a group of gardeners at a Merseyside allotment, who react angrily when a group of refugees are given plots at the site, but after they get to know them better, soon change their minds. The film was previously known under the title The Allotment. (review from Wikipedia)

Grizzly Man (2005) is a documentary by Werner Herzog about Timothy Treadwell, an endearing man who spent years living alongside grizzly bears in Alaska.  Treadwell had taken years of his own film footage about his relationships with bears before he and his girlfriend were eaten by a bear in 2003. Herzog also includes interviews with people who knew, or were involved with Treadwell.  It is a very interesting account of a man who had a very powerful relationship with the wild – but at the same time was very confused about it, not knowing his boundaries, and to some extent idealising the wild.

Fly Away Home (1996)  is a moving film about a young girls journey after she suddenly loses her mother in an accident. She goes to live with her father, and bonds with a mother goose and her goslings. But  lands up needing to lead this flock of Canada Geese from Canada to a wildlife refuge in the USA.

Into the Wild (2007) recounts the true story of  Christopher McCandless  as told by his sister, Carine McCandless. In rejection of a materialist, conventional life, and of his parents Walt McCandless and Billie McCandless, whom McCandless perceives as having betrayed him, McCandless destroys all of his credit cards  and identification documents, donates $24,000 (nearly his entire savings) to Oxfam, and sets out on a drive in his well-used but reliable Datsun toward his ultimate goal: Alaska and, alone, to test himself and experience the wilds of nature. He does not tell his family what he is doing or where he is going and does not communicate with them thereafter, leaving them to become increasingly anxious and eventually desperate. The film is an interesting take on one human’s relationship to wild places; there is no idealisation of wilderness here. (review from Wikipedia)

The Story of the Weeping Camel (2004) is a lovingly observed and fascinating journal of day-to-day survival in the Mongolian Gobi desert. For a family of herders who happily eke out their living in this remote dustbowl, crisis comes in the shape of a newborn camel rejected by its mother after an agonising birth. They undertake to rear the calf by hand, but the longer he’s denied his mother’s milk, the more likely it is the little camel will die.  After failed efforts to reconcile mother and baby, the family dispatches young Dude and his little brother Ugna to ride across the plains and fetch help. But rather than a veterinarian, it is a violinist who’s called upon to conduct an ancient ritual thought to inspire a maternal instinct. Review from  www.bbc.co.uk/films/

Whale Rider (2002)  is set in New Zealand, where the legend has it that the native people came there following their leader, a boy who heroically rode on the back of a whale.  From that day forward, tradition has been to give leadership to direct descendants of that leader of old, but tragedy occurs when opposite-sexed twins are born, the girl living, the boy dying, and the mother also not making it through the delivery.  The chain is broken, as tradition has it that only first-born male descendants may be the leader.  The girl, Pai, grows into an adventurous and talented person of her own, but her grandfather Koro has no need for spirited girls to try to be leader.  Koro starts a school to teach the olden traditions, and hope he can find a boy among the village to rise to the occasion and show leadership for the people who now have none.  All signs point to Pai, but traditions are meant to be upheld.  Review from http://www.qwipster.net/whalerider.htm

Documentaries

Ancient Futures (1992) is a documentary based on the book Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodge. It is a remarkable look at the root causes of our environmental and social crises, and a powerful challenge to re-examine what we mean by “progress.” Ladakh, or “Little Tibet,” is a harsh, beautiful land high in the Western Himalayas of India. A model of sustainable living, the traditional Ladakh culture has prospered, virtually free of crime and pollution. Now, centuries of ecological balance and social harmony are eroding as the result of western influences.

Edgar Mitchell on Space Travel and Big Picture A 9 min description of embodied interconnectedness sparked by this astronaut’s journey home through space, marvelling at the universe.

Farm for the Future: Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key. It was shown on BBC in 2008/9

In Transition (2009) is the first detailed film about the Transition movement filmed by those that know it best, those who are making it happen on the ground. The Transition movement is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humour, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities.

Jill Bolte: My Stroke of Insight: A 20min TED lecture where brain scientist Jill Bolte gives an insightful and moving account of her experience of a stroke which thrust her back and forth between right and left brains.

Joanna Macy – several short films made of Joanna speaking.

Microcosmos (1996) is a moving and unusual nature documentary. It goes right down into the tiny details of the life in a meadow over the course of a year. No narration. There are several versions of it on you tube.

Paul Hawken at Bioneers (2006) A very inspiring 6 min overview of the movment for change sweeping accross the world.

Riding Giants (2003) Documentary detailing the origins and history of surf culture. I found it moving to listen to mens’ stories about their relationship to waves and the sea.

Sacred Economics (2012) traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme – but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being. Based on the book Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. Film made by Ian McKenzie.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (2008) tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy—a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

The Age of Stupid (2009)  This enormously ambitious drama-documentary-animation hybrid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching ‘archive’ footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change while we had the chance?

The Corporation  (2003) This Canadian documentary is critical of the modern-day corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person. This is explored through specific examples.

The Economics of Happiness (2011)  describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization. See www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org

The Natural World: The Wilds of Essex A touching documentary exploring the question, what is wild nature?  Narrated by Robert McFarlane, author of Wild Places.He finds a wonderful weaving together of wild nature with human impact.

Touching the Void (2003) The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. An account of extraordinary human survival in glacial mountains, and a moving story of male relationship.

The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil   When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time.

Some other websites with listings of films: