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Sustainability Studies: Documentary Films

Not just "going Green", climate change and conserving energy...

Planet in Peril - Check out in Library- DVD I-87

2007 - CNN Worldwide Investigation


Topics covered:

·          Episode 1

  •  Endangered species
  • Animal Trafficking
  • Habitat Destruction
  • Species Recovery - Yellowstone Wolves
  • Top Predator Loss - Cambodia Tigers
  • Animals sold as food
  • Public Health
  • Water Quality through Mining and Agriculture - China
  • Chemical Contamination – United States

·          Episode 2

  • Climate Change
  • Greenland’s melting ice sheet - Animal Research – Polar Bears, Seals
  • Carteret’s Islands, New Guinea - Sinking Island, Coral Bleaching
  • Lake Chad, Africa – 90% reduction in the lake
  • Controversy of Climate Change
  • Amazon Rainforest, Brazil – deforestation, poaching, Sister Dorothy
  • Social Injustice - Quality of Life differences for the disadvantaged


King Corn - Check Out in Library - DVD I86

2006- Docurama Films



Topics Covered:

Farm Subsidies

·        Prices stayed high because supply and demand were in balance

·        1973, reoriented the program so that crop would expand and price would go down


Growth and introduction of tractors

·        Production of planters made it even easier to plant corn


Genetically modified corn seed

·        To resist weeds

·        Also to resist herbicide called Liberty that is sprayed on weeds


Commodity Corn

·        Most corn grown in Iowa is inedible, so the farmers planting and harvesting the corn can’t even eat it until it is processed

·        Where does all the corn go?

Forks Over Knives - Check out in Library - DVD I81

2011- Virgil Films



Topics Covered:

Obesity in the U.S.- diseases and conditions associated with it 

·        Link between food and health

·        Plant based, whole foods diet seen as better choice

·        History/ change in food choices


Coronary Heart Disease- can be caused by animal based diet


Difference in disease profile

·        based on country of origin-plant based diets seemed to have fewer cases of disease


High Fructose Corn Syrup

Motivational Triad

·        Liver Cancer and Philipino Children

·        USDA- conflict of interest

Trashed- Check out in Library - DVD I90

2007- OXI Productions, LLC



Topics Covered:

Waste disposal- methane gas production and global warming



·        landfill proposed right by elementary school

·        leech 8 in ground water

·        runoff from landfill can leak into water supply


Michigan- inundated by garbage from Toronto, Canada

·        Waste Management

·        cheaper to take materials and recycle them than to take them to landfill



Freegans- people who divert items from the land fill by searching through dumpsters and trash bags to find good food and house hold items

North Pacific Gyre- 3.5 mill tons of plastic in world’s oceans

Tapped - Check out in Library - DVD I88

2010- Atlas Films




Topics Covered:

Bottled water industry

·        Nestle- Poland Springs Bottled water (water mining)


Ground water laws- Absolute Dominion

·        Opposition from citizens in towns who do not want bottled water companies to tap into water


Climate change and water availability

·        Droughts in South Eastern US- water restrictions to residents, but not on companies

·        Over-pumping of ground water to bottle


Petro-chemical plants

·        PET- made from refining crude oil


Case study of effects of these plants on people- Texas Flint Hill Plant

·        Insufficient regulation of bottled water

·        harmful chemicals found in bottled water (Styrene, phthalates)

-BPA found in bottled water as well as water jugs

·        State bottle bills- deposits only in 10 states


North Pacific Gyre- plastic pollution in the open ocean

Living Downstream

2010 – The People’s Picture Company, Inc



Resource – Guide for Community and Curriculum available

Topics Covered:

  • Based on Sandra Steingraber’s book “Living Downstream”
  • Environmental Connections to Cancer
    • Chemicals in air, water, soil and food
  • Research that has been conducted
    • Normandale, IL – mail survey conducted by county’s Public Health Department
    • Salinas River, CA – UC Berkley study of affects on frogs
    • Testing of Breast milk for chemical contaminatio
  • Chemicals
    • Atrazine
    • DDT
    • PCB
  • Interviews
    • Sandra Steingraber, author and narrator
    • Tyrone Hayes, UC Berkeley – research on frogs
    • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring - footage of interviews with her

Stephane Lair, University of Montreal – research on beluga whales

Crude: The Real Price of Oil - Check out in Library - DVD I79

2009 – Crude Productions, LLC



Topics Covered:

  • Ecuador people v. Chevron (a.k.a Texaco) lawsuit - “Amazon Chernobyl”
    • Social injustice issue
    • Facts
      • Texaco began drilling in Ecuador in 1964
      • PetroEcuador took over the oil operations in 1992 with known evidence of spills
      • People became sick, and began to die primarily due to contaminated water
      • 1993 – lawsuit filed against Texaco; 2001, Chevron merges with Texaco and inherited the lawsuit
    • Question of who is responsible and what is to be done
      • Evidence
        • Site visits to oil production locations and areas damaged from leaks
        • Sick people of Ecuador villages – Cancer, skin problems, dead animals
        • Lab samples from potentially contaminated sites (conflicting results from Texaco v. people of Ecuador)
        • Independent expert’s “global assessment” report  of the damages and cost for repairing
      • Media responses to the lawsuit on both sides
      • Celebrities and people in power take sides

National Geographic: Human Footprint - Check out in Library - DVD I84

2008- Touch Productions Ltd



Topics Covered:

Human impact on the world through waste & consumption

·        Progression of human footprint from infant to death

·        Life cycle analysis and materials used to produce items we use (diaper example)

·        Amount of different items we will use in our lifetimes (bread, meat, milk, potatoes)

·        How much post consumer waste we throw away

·        Consumption over a lifetime of different products


Food transportation and processing

·        Where our fruit comes from (miles traveled until they reach our grocery stores)

·        How our food is wrapped and packaged

The End of the Line - Check out in Library - DVD I80

2009- Docurama Films    



Topics Covered:

What is happening to fish in the oceans?


Newfoundland Canada- Cod Fish

·        Due to overfishing of Northern Cod, the fish was depleted and there had to be a moratorium until the population replenished in 1994


Blue Fin Tuna- decrease in population

·        Problem Company- Mitsubishi-> Biggest buyer of Blue Fin Tuna


Senegal Dilemma

·        Dependence on fish for livelihood



  • Species Depletion
  • Fishing Controls- Catch Limits
  • Fish Farming

Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action - Check out in Library - DVD I83

2005- The Katahdin Foundation



Topics Covered:


·        Oil companies buy up reservation land

·        Western law vs. Native American laws

·        Arctic national wildlife reserve

·        Oil company wants to intrude of preserve and drill in area of migration and reproduction of caribou

·        Oil spill in Prince William Sound- Exxon


Navajo Reservation- New Mexico

·        Radiation from mining

·        Mention of 3 Mile Island- example of how radiation bottomed out

·        Insitu-leech mining


Penobscot River- Maine

·        Penobscot Nation

·        Lincoln Pulp and Paper

·        Dependence on fish- fish is becoming contaminated

Toxic Soup - Check out in Library - DVD I89

2010- Man Bites Dog Films



Topics Covered:

Industrial chemicals – different dangerous chemicals found in everyday items

·        Gene interaction with our environment


West Virginia- “The Chemical Valley”

·        Chemical Plants and Coal Mines

·        Health of workers and citizens

·        C8 in drinking water (PFOA’s)

·        Deadly chemical MIC- Bhopal India Industrial accident killing thousands of people

·        Bayer Plant Explosion


Kentucky- Radium 226

·        link between autism and chemicals- vaccines-> chemicals-> autism (ethyl mercury in vaccines)


Washington DC- Kids Safe Chemical Act

Heat - Check out in Library - DVD I82

2008- PBS



Topics Covered:

Global Warming


Industrial Age- Increase in Fossil Fuel use and CO2 increase

·        U.S. Failure to accept Kyoto Protocol


Bali Indonesia- U.S. finally agrees to negotiate a treaty to decrease emissions at UN meeting


Coal fired power plants- American Electric Power- Coal as base load generation

·        Clean Coal Campaign

·        Carbon Capture and Storage plant in Florida- Polk power plant

·        Southern Company- Based out of Georgia- Do not favor Carbon Capture and Store because of geology of region


Exxon Mobile- Crude Oil

·        Tar Sands in Canada

·        Growth of Ethanol

·        Efficiency in Europe- Renewable Energy leaders

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front - Check out in Library - DVD I85

2011 – Canadian International Documentary Festival



Topics Covered:

  • Eco-Terrorism – Earth Liberation Front (ELF)
    • Interview with Daniel McGowan: member of ELF
    • Events leading up to the efforts of the ELF: Earth First and Warner Creek Protest
    • Events leading to Daniel’s involvement with ELF
    • Events and evidence in the trial against the members of ELF arrested
      • WTO, Black Block, Seattle, WA
      • Superior Lumber Company burning, Oregon
      • University of Washington and Oregon Poplar Farm burning
      • Joe Romania Truck Center, Eugene, Oregon
      • Use of Jake Ferguson to collect confessions from members of ELF
      • Arrest of members of ELF
      • Sentencing of Daniel McGowan
  • Terms
    • Eco-terrorism
    • Monkey Wrenching

FLOW: How Did a Handful of Corporations Steal Our Water? - Check out in Library - DVD I52

2008 – Oscilloscope Laboratories



Topics Covered:

  • Contamination of water via water borne diseases and chemicals: agricultural , pharmaceuticals, industrial, and others
  • Social Injustice and lack of clean drinking water
  • Involvement of World Bank in the privatization of water
  • Decrease of water around the world, even in the United States
  • Bottled Water v. Tap Water
  • Building of dams and displacement of people and water
  • Pumping of water from city wells by bottled water companies – legal implications
  • Citizen Activism

Who Killed the Electric Car? - Check out in Library - DVD I27

2006- Sony Pictures Classics



Topics Covered:

History, development and commercialization of the electric car

·        GM’s EV1

·        California Air Resources Board- passed the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate


Destruction of the Cars

·        Global warming

·        Middle Eastern politics

·        Oil industry and automobile manufacturers

·        George W. Bush Administration

·        Talks of hydrogen fuel cell cars

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