EARTH DAY DOCS THAT WILL CHANGE YOU FOREVER

DENIZ AKKAYA

On this second Earth Day that we’re spending in quarantine, we’ve listed the most enlightening and inspiring documentaries for you…

Ice on Fire, directed by Leila Conners (2019)

The second collaboration between actor and climate champion Leonardo DiCaprio and director Leila Conners is an alarming examination of the potential for global catastrophe at the hands of Arctic thawing. Hearing from ‘climate witnesses’ and progressive scientists around the world, it explains not just the peril we face through inaction but also looks at innovations around the world specialising in carbon capture.

Seaspiracy, directed by Ali Tebrizi (2021)

The filmmakers who inspired a wave of people to explore or convert to veganism and vegetarianism with Cowspiracy (2014) have turned their unerring focus to the ocean with this new feature-length documentary. Viewers can expect to be faced with some eye-watering facts and statistics surrounding our mistreatment of the world’s oceans. From unsustainable fishing and the dumping of plastics to despicable modern slavery used to provide cheap seafood year-round, this is an unflinching indictment of current practices. Streaming on Netflix.

My Octopus Teacher, directed by James Reed and Pippa Ehrlich (2020)

Much like pigs, octopuses are intelligent. And much like pigs, octopuses are cursed with being coveted for their tastiness. The cephalopods can seem unrelatable and alien to many, but not so for filmmaker and free-diver Craig Foster, whose special relationship with an octopus off the coast of his native South Africa is the subject of this strange and moving documentary. Foster’s environmental epiphanies and deep connection with his ocean-dwelling friend could be easily mocked if this Oscar-nominated film wasn’t so expertly made. Streaming on Netflix.

2040, directed by Damon Gameau (2019)

Considering he’s discussing what could be the worst apocalyptic outcomes of the climate catastrophe, garrulous Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau has a remarkably upbeat temperament in this environmental passion project. Motivated by a desire to create a better world for his daughter, the director and frontman chooses not to pore over the grim minutiae of worst-case scenarios, instead dedicating his film to championing eco measures that already exist. If scaled properly, Gameau argues with admirable sincerity, they could literally save the world. Streaming on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet, directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes and Keith Scholey (2020)

The weight of Sir David Attenborough’s elegiac tone looms large in this feature-length witness statement about his nine decades on Earth. Listening to him explain the unsustainable rise of the human population — and with it, the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere — can feel dispiriting, but the legendary naturalist’s message isn’t entirely hopeless. As well as mourning what we’ve lost, Attenborough offers sage advice on what we can do to change. Streaming on Netflix.