10 films we love at Make Wealth History
Earth is simply a documentary about the planet we live on. The film spans a year on Earth covering animal and environmental diversity from pole to pole. Nature is so excellently narrated and beautifully filmed that almost every scene holds you mesmerised at the intricacies of our world, while simultaneously creating a sense of regret as the film roll portrays animals on the edge of extinction as climate change destroys their habitats. Note: It does contain a proportion of footage from the “Planet Earth” series.
This enterprising documentary follows a representative of an Ethiopian coffee growers co-op as he talks to farmers, grades beans, and fights for a decent price for his constituents. As well as talking to farmers and their families, the film travels to Seattle for the world barista championships, and to the WTO meetings in Doha. The contrast between the source and the final destination of coffee is striking, making for a powerful message about unfair trade.
Our Daily Bread
A startling film that displays the simple reality of industrial agriculture. Containing no music and no scripted dialogue, the film shows the methods behind large scale food production in various European countries. Lacking that key component of your average film (scripted sound) the viewer is given the opportunity to form their own ideas, opinions and views with regards to the methods used in modern farming.
An Inconvenient Truth
I expect you’ve seen this one by now. Vanishing briefly from the political scene, Al Gore returned as a champion of the climate change cause. His movie is the first and probably the last time you could go to the cinema to watch a man giving a powerpoint presentation. It’s a compelling and surprisingly personal film, and has made a huge impact in bringing climate change to mainstream attention.
Fast Food Nation
Originally a work of investigative journalism, director Richard Linklater took the book of the title and turned it into a series of inter-twining stories around the meat industry. We follow immigrants crossing the border from Mexico, a quality standards supervisor investigating contamination, and teenagers working in a fast food joint. The inhumanity of our meat production is gradually exposed, in a film that is thought-provoking, moving, and at times harrowing. (also see SuperSize Me)
Walmart: the high cost of a low price
Although it picks on the world’s largest retailer, the business practices explored here are true of many other supermarkets and corporations. The film deals with the killing of the American high street, the breaking up of workers unions, and the difficulties in trying to hold a corporation accountable. Most effective of all, I thought, was a section filmed in China, where sweatshop toy factory workers are asked if there’s anything they’d like to say to shoppers in the US.
Who killed the electric car?
This film shows the ways and means by which the electric car disappeared. It analyses and questions the stories behind both the production and destruction of electric cars, batteries and other materials. It shows how car makers flatly refused to produce electric cars, making up endless excuses for trivial or uninformed reasons. The film questions the motives behind halting the research and national use of the electric car in the United States and is worth a watch if only to understand further how oil dominates our transport.
A recent addition, and very different from the films listed above, Wall-E tells the story of a robot left behind to clean up an abandoned earth while the people who polluted it enjoy an never-ending space cruise. It’s cute, it’s charming, and according to one critic it’s “environmentalist, anticapitalist, and antitechnological propaganda,” which is a quote they really should have put on the poster. Hard to believe Disney could ever make anything truly anticapitalist, but there you go. The scenes of our trashed planet are beautifully sad, and perfect for explaining sustainability to kids.
If Wall-E’s trashed earth is an imagined one, here’s the reality. Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has specialized in shooting man-made landscapes, of the intended or unintended kind – dams, quarries, pollution, landfill sites. This documentary follows him in China, and the cinematography matches the epic tone of his work. Worth seeing just for the opening scene – a single tracking shot through a factory that just runs and runs, past people going about their repetitive tasks, work station after work station, for an uninterrupted, silent eight minutes.
What would Jesus buy?
Something more seasonal – this travelogue follows the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping as they campaign against the consumerism of Christmas. It’s hilarious, it’s daring, it’s ‘the movie Santa doesn’t want you to see’. Ultimately though, the footage of people rushing the sales and the way the newscasters talk about them speaks for itself – it’s time to flee the coming shopocalypse. (Also see The Yes Men)