At the Danish Social Forum, there was a film festival called “This way out” which showcased a collection of the latest political documentaries. I saw Johan Söderberg’s film The Planet a visual feast examining the same issues as “An Inconvenient Truth” – but it does so in a more poetic and somewhat less factual way. As one of the film interviewees notes, climate change will force humanity to change its outlook of the world from unhindered human progress to sustainable living. This is a change of such epic proportions that we cannot fathom it. We can only relate to the immediate crises produced by this environmental change. So how bad does it have to get before we will get our act together?
Another of the interviewees, an economist, argues that once the unexpected climate costs of focusing solely on human progress through economic growth hits us, we will have to realize that this single-minded focus on “economic growth” easily can turn into “uneconomic growth” as the costs of natural disasters, pollution, and urbanization will continue to increase.
These are all issues which documentaries do well to illuminate. Like the Austrian montage Our Daily Bread shows how our food production has become industrialized and alienated from natural cycles. Or the film Darwin’s Nightmare, which describes the horrid effects of a globalized economy solely focused on economic growth at high environmental and social cost. Or the Canadian documentary The Corporation which describes the history of the multi-national corporation as the main institution generating and propagating this economic growth at all costs throughout the 20th century.
And there are lots more. Recently, I came across a website which provides access to loads of documentaries for free, which is well worth a look. And meanwhile, expensive documentaries such as The Corporation are also released for free, to some extent practicing what they preach. So go see a documentary film today. You might learn something.