Six documentaries to rekindle your fire
By Alex Parker
If you’re like me, you need a break from streaming TV shows that center around violent criminal enterprises. Perhaps you need something a little more uplifting. Or maybe something that reminds you of why you earned that little green pin in the first place. For me it was watching “An Inconvenient Truth” for the first time.
These documentaries, including several from local filmmakers, look at different aspects of climate change, from the environmental costs and how climate change deniers peddle their lies, to uplifting solutions-based films that will inspire you during a time when a little inspiration goes a long way.
Evanston filmmakers Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher examine how new ways of agriculture preserve and protect the planet while creating healthier and more plentiful yields for farmers. They tell a compelling and inspiring story through the lens of Chicago-area farmer Marty Travis, who watches his land and community fall victim to the pressures of agribusiness. Determined to create a proud legacy for his son, Marty transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago.
Available to rent on
Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, VHX Watch the Trailer.
Right to Harm (2019)
Wechsler and Speicher expose the devastating public health impact factory farming has on many disadvantaged citizens throughout the United States, through the riveting stories of five rural communities across the nation. The documentary shows how state agencies fail to regulate industrial animal agriculture, and the damage these practices create. Known formally as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – or CAFOs – these facilities produce millions of gallons of untreated waste that destroys the quality of life for nearby neighbors. Fed up with the lack of regulation, these disenfranchised citizens band together to demand justice from their legislators.
Available to rent
online / Watch the Trailer / Right to Harm from Hourglass Films on Vimeo.
Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau (“That Sugar Film”) imagines the world his daughter will live in in 2040 – if we did everything right. To fill in the outlines of this future world, Gameau travels the world to meet innovators and agents of change across disciplines, including sustainability, agriculture, economics, education and more. Together, they identify the best solutions available to us now that will improve the health of our planet and societies. From marine permaculture to decentralized renewable energy projects, he discovers that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.
“2040” is a story of hope that looks at the very real possibility we could reverse some of the damage caused by climate change and improve lives in the process. This film was slated to be shown during the One World Film Festival.
Available to rent or buy on
iTunes and Amazon / Watch the Trailer
Monty & Rose (2020)
Chicago filmmakers Bob Dolgan, Pat Nabong and Mitchell Wenkus chronicle the story of Monty and Rose, two endangered piping plovers who nested on Uptown’s Montrose Beach during the summer of 2019 – the first piping plovers to nest in Chicago in 64 years. Environmentalists and conservationists rallied to support the rare birds, and the hatchlings that came after they found a home in Chicago. Monty and Rose made national headlines when a music festival was set to take place on the beach. In the end, the plover family won the hearts of Chicagoans, and a victory for conservationists.
Available to rent or buy on
Shocked and saddened after learning how climate change will impact the world her son will live in, filmmaker Mélanie Laurent travels the world seeking people creating climate solutions, often in their communities, in this hopeful documentary.
Available on-demand on
iTunes, Google Play and Microsoft. Watch the T railer.
Merchants of Doubt (2014)
The acclaimed documentary, based on the book of the same name by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, could be called “The Climate Denier’s Playbook.” It investigates the cottage industry of denial: so-called experts who show up again and again, trying to sow doubt about facts. These deniers are well known for trying to inject doubt into arguments about climate change, but also in other areas, such as consumer safety. The documentary includes interviews with Chicago Tribune reporters who investigated the science behind flame retardant chemicals.
YouTube. Watch the Trailer.
Alex Parker, of La Grange, was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in Minneapolis in 2019. He’s the proud owner of a new battery-powered electric lawn mower for which his neighbors are grateful!
Thanks, Alex I learned a lot from ‘‘Right to Harm” and look forward to seeing some of these others.