Three Green-Themed Films Worth Seeing For Yourself

Big River Man 2 photo

Photo still by Big River Man

Seven environmentally-themed films will be previewed at Sundance Film Festival, which runs through the end of this week: "Earth Days" will close the festival; No Impact Man, Crude, The End of the Line, Dirt: The Movie, and Big River Man are also part of the festival's large program of films. We aren't going to review the films here, because we haven't seen them all. Nor will we try to point out any green aspects (there were a few) of Sundance this year; we're already a bit post-shy after divulging some green details of Obama's Inauguration-o-Rama. Instead, we'll just preview three of the films that might really be worth your while to seek out when they finally make it to a theater or video store near you.

Earth Days Earth photo

Earth Day every day
It's always good to review how we got to where we are today, and Robert Stone's film Earth Days, a documentary, should help do that, beginning with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and detailing some of the history of the environmental movement through the stories and recollections of nine individuals, including former Secretary of the Interior Steward Udall, and 'Population Bomb' biologist Paul Ehrlich. Of course, any story of the rise of an activist popular movement to save the Earth is bound to be bittersweet, since it sure doesn't seem like we've saved it yet!

No Impact Man Still photo

No Impact Man and Woman
Colin Beavan's film No Impact Man is also a documentary, this time recording Beavan's year of trying to live greenly in the land of low-fat lattés and not-so-green taxi cabs ride, New York City. What's great is that Beavan tackles that big issue of attempting to get your spouse or child to follow along with personal green actions, and in this case, he makes a convert of his wife Michelle Conlin. What's not so great? Beavan's year is over, he's writing a book (think book tour) and he traveled to Sundance by plane! (He offset the carbon dioxide by supporting a hydro project in Honduras. All in all, the film is inspiring because it feels real and the actions the Beavan family take achievable. The archives of TreeHugger are littered with attempts people have made to stop shopping for a year or chronicle their trail of trash for twelve months. All these efforts are important contributions to reaching the tipping point when we all push together in the same small-impact direction; Beavan's film just happens to take the small changes and put them on the big screen to prove they are possible and realistic.

Big River Man photo

Big River Man gets a mouthful
Five years ago my friend Christopher Swain swam the Columbia River and encountered a myriad of difficulties; swimming through questionable gunk, seeing up close and personal the pollution in the river, and attempting to keep up his strength by squirting tubed yogurt into his mouth every 15 minutes. Perhaps that's why the premise for Big River Man seems so appealing and familiar. Overweight Slovenian endurance swimmer Martin Strel takes on the Amazon in Big River Man - 3,375 miles of obstacles, snafus and outright life-threatening dangers. His son narrates the film, which follows his waning strength and sanity. Strel has swum other rivers, including the Yangtze, to underscore their plight, yet Big River Man is described by Sundance as a humorous character sketch as much as its is an environmental documentary.

Read more about related green-themed films
Update on No Impact Man: The Year Without Toilet Paper
Earth Watching: Seen Any Good Green Movies Lately?
5 Environmentally Themed Blockbusters of 2008 and How They Rate