Environmental films up for Oscar nominations.
Sun Come Up
Sun Come Up follows the plight of some of the world’s first true climate refugees. Their homeland, the Cataret Islands, a remote chain in the South Pacific, is fast losing ground to rising sea levels. The families who have lived there for dozens of generations have made the agonizing decision to relocate their entire community.
Be sure to check out the interview with filmmaker Jennifer Redfearn from last spring, where we learn how the filmmakers were received by the islanders and where the film’s title comes from.
The Warriors of Qiugang
This film tells an incredible “David vs. Goliath” story of poor villagers in China’s industrial heartland standing up against runaway pollution. The village of Qiugang is plagued by three major industrial outlets that “churned out chemicals, pesticides, and dyes, turning the local river black, killing fish and wildlife, and filling the air with foul fumes that burned residents’ eyes and throats and sickened children.” The film tracks “the struggle of Qiugang’s increasingly emboldened population to curb the pollution that was poisoning them in their homes, schools, and fields.”
This is something of a watershed moment for nonprofit environmental journalism, as the film was co-produced by Yale Environment 360, and screened exclusively on the e360 site.
The filmmaker, Josh Fox, was himself approached by companies to sell drilling rights on his land, and the film uses startling images of kitchen faucets erupting in flames and polluted streams to argue against the practice that many community activists see as a major threat to public health and safety.
The film already won the Jury Prize for best documentary at Sundance last year, and in an interesting twist, The New York Times has a good piece about how the natural gas industry wasn’t all too pleased at the film’s nomination.
In the world’s largest garbage dump, on the outskirts of Rio de Janiero, a community of catadores, or “scavengers,” spend their lives picking through the refuse for recyclable, reusable, and even edible materials. Wasteland follows artist Vik Muniz from Brooklyn back to his native Brazil, where he connects with the trash-pickers, helping them create striking, vivid images of themselves out of garbage that he then photographs. (Muniz gives all the money raised from the sale of the portraits to the subjects.) The images, according to the filmmakers, show “both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives.”
Love the attention the environment is getting. It looks like humans are finally realizing how serious climate issues are.