The very first Earth Day was celebrated 51 years ago on 22 April. Since 1970, there has been a growing movement championing environmental consciousness as the world continued to progress, often at the cost of Mother Earth. With this year’s theme of ‘Restore Our Earth’, all eyes are on the coming disasters of climate change and environmental destruction.  

The films in this list are a mix of fiction and documentary. It’s almost unavoidable to have a ‘Debbie Downer’ sentiment when we talk about the degradation of our home and the climate emergency. However, these six films carry a flame of hope amidst the despair. 

You’ll be reminded of the good, informed about the complexities of commercial practices across industries, and be inspired to keep on with the good fight after watching these films.  

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

Image: Startled Sloth Reviews

Frankly, any one of Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries would be a superb watch to commemorate Earth Day. After all, the award-winning iconic narrator is synonymous with premium nature documentaries. Given the 2021 Earth Day theme of ‘Restore Our Earth’, this 2020 release makes the must-watch list.

Attenborough shares his thoughts and actions needed in addressing the climate emergency. In particular, he highlights the systemic change that is needed on a global scale to restore biodiversity loss, improve poverty levels, raise education for females, and explore renewable energy sources. He also mentions the assorted protection needed for sustainable consumption.

The overall effect is an intimate watch that aims to educate without sensationalisation.

The Boon Joon-ho Green Sci-Fi Trilogy: The Host, Snowpiercer & Okja

Image: Entertainment Weekly

Bong Joon-ho makes genre films infused with meaning. He stole the 92nd Academy Awards with Parasite, exploring the parallel worlds of the have and have-nots in society. But in his previous works, it’s clear to see that he is no one-trick wonder in the art of the subtle allegory.

Don’t be turned off by the sci-fi label of The Host, Snowpiercer and Okja. While they might fall in the realm of the fantastical, at its core is the exploration of families in crisis. It’s much like humans facing the climate emergency.

Whether it’s a monster created from toxic pollution, a train carrying the last survivors after global warming has caused a frozen Earth, or a genetic super pig touted to revolutionise the livestock industry, Bong’s films deliver a cinematic experience while allowing you to infer your own takeaways.

While these films may not be backed by hard science, they mirror the everyday realities of pollution, systemic poverty and the commercial meat industry. So much so that after his research of Okja, Bong decided to embrace a vegan diet.

If you find documentaries to be dry or contain potential bias or falsehoods, opt for these films instead.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Image: One Earth Film Fest

It’s been 15 years since Al Gore first brought attention to climate change with An Inconvenient Truth, his highly acclaimed documentary. How much progress have we made since?

Well, let Gore count the ways in his follow-up sequel. Spoiler alert: there have been some important changes, but not nearly enough. And definitely not fast enough. This film, much like its predecessor, is very American-centric in its focus. However, the fact that the movie was released in 2017 under a former president who claims climate change is a hoax, makes it incredibly resonant.

Donald Trump isn’t the first or last person to deny climate change. But Gore’s steadfastness cuts a figure of hope in an ever complicated science-intolerant atmosphere. 

“Despair can be paralysing,” Gore says. But hope beats on in his heart. Here’s an inspiring watch to nurture the environmentalists within.

Mission Blue

Image: Mission Blue

When it comes to the underwater world, there is little that marine biologist and activist, Dr Sylvia Earle doesn’t know. Not only did she hold the previous world record for deep solo depth in a submarine, she also has lived underwater for two weeks with a group of oceanographers.

Her soulful personality partnered with her great academic triumphs and encompassing love for the ocean makes for a compelling watch. She delivers a convincing argument for marine sanctuaries, which are ocean spaces that are protected from fishing and other harmful human activities. Here’s one way forward to counter the damaging effects of overfishing. 

Passion can move mountains and in the case of Earle’s compelling documentary, it teaches us how we can save our deep blue seas.