Fertile Ground: Five Films For the Ecofeminist in You
Within the last several years, some great eco-themed movies have swirled about in theaters and Netflix queues. Both scripted and documentary, these films have been effective at conscious-raising and spreading the word to take action to heal our wilting planet. They cover some of the bases of our eco-crisis, but this is in no way a comprehensive list. It is only a sampler platter of the fine films out there! All of these films can be viewed through an ecofeminist lens, bridging the gap between environmental issues and feminist ones. There are layers of oppression in everything from food justice to gentrification, and there is much ground to tap into and discussion to be had.
I opted to only list some of my favorite documentaries, though there are many excellent fictional ecofeminist films out there (lots of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, you-fucked-with-nature-and-see-what-happens? ones, like Children of Men and Wall-E). I also will admit there are many documentaries I have not yet seen. (Both Blue Gold and Flow have to deal with crucial water issues, and both are supposedly great.) Lastly, this small list is of films whose themes were both inspiring and upsetting, but all made me want to take action, even in small ways.
As a farmer, this is one of the movies I watch when I’m in a bad mood. The film follows two girls in New York City as they get more connected to and educated about the food they eat. It’s both inspiring and fun, and since it revolves around kids, it is extra motivating for me.
OK, so kind of the same theme (sorry, food is my thing!), Fresh came out about the same time Food, Inc. did, which is too bad, since it was largely overshadowed. I didn’t dislike Food, Inc., and am glad its popularity spurred awareness pertaining to the damaging effects of industrial agriculture; however, these films had distinctly different ways of presenting their material. While Fresh was uplifting and carried the same anti-agribusiness principles, Food, Inc., made me want to crawl into a ball, read People magazine and just plain give up on life. Even though you may know the issues that both these movies contain, the key difference was that Fresh reminded me sweetly, making me want to get up and make a meal, while Food, Inc. made me want to forget dinner all together.
A documentary about the end of cheap oil and energy, this film is a peek at what’s coming. It also is a call for a more localized economy and a more sustainable way of living.
This film, made by NYC-based writer Colin Beavan, follows Beavan and his family as they decide to live for one year doing as little destructive impact on the environment as possible. When this film came out it received a fair amount of mixed criticism—mostly faulting Beavan’s supposed self-indulgence—but for me, it carries a lot of inspiration and reminders about living consciously.
Filmmaker Judith Helfand sets out on a journey to uncover the toxic secrets underpinning the blue vinyl siding her parents are putting on their house. The exposure to vinyl chloride—the key ingredient in vinyl—is a largely ignored hazard, from the making of it in factories set in poor, low-income areas and off-gasing chemicals in the atmosphere—giving these neighborhoods a load of disturbing health problems—to the disposing of it in landfills. I saw this film years ago, and it still haunts me (in a good way). For our farm materials, we avoid buying PVC whenever possible because of it.
What say you, commenters? What documentaries (or other movies) do you recommend?
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