Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's up Docs?

On the heels of The Cove's critical, Academy Award winning success and even more importantly, it's activist and social change victories, it's been a banner year thus far for socially relevant docs. Sometimes hard to find, these films are worth tracking down and seeing at Film and Music Festivals, as fundraisers at Museums, art-house theaters etc. Be resourceful and seek them out!
Some of my favorites include GASLAND which is about the hydraulic fracturing drilling process used by natural gas companies (known as "fracking") that is running rough-shot all over the U.S. in 34 states where huge shale fields contain gas deposits. The environmental impact has been huge and threatens watersheds and river basins, the source of drinking water. See its broadcast premiere on HBO on June 21st or check the website for local screenings.
WASTE LAND, another Sundance favorite is a beautifully shot documentary that chronicles artist Vik Muniz's journey to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. He works with pickers of recyclable materials by photographing them and recreating their images with the very 'garbage' they've picked. It's a story about the power of art to transform lives and celebrates the dignity of the human spirit.
I also recommend EARTH DAYS, which traces the roots of modern environmental movement through the eyes and stories of some of the most prominent pioneers. DIRT is a fun and accessible film that explores the history of dirt while educating viewers about the abusive farming practices and urban development that have contributed to our current soil crisis. As much a media project as a film, DIRT encourages people to stay involved through their website, an interactive space where visitors can schedule their own screenings of the film and have access to community action toolkits. The filmmakers are also cycling the profits from their film back into environmental education projects.
Lastly, if you've never seen '79 classic THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS based on the book by Peter Tomkins, check it out for free online here and enjoy the Stevie Wonder soundtrack!