Essential Environmental Documentaries: Discovering Nature's Wonders

1 de gener de 2024

In an age where the environment and its preservation are more crucial than ever, documentaries have become powerful tools for awareness and education. These films, or 'eco-cinemas', offer us a window into the complexities of our planet's ecosystems, the challenges they face, and the efforts being made to protect them. From the depths of the oceans to the expanse of the rainforests, environmental documentaries provide a blend of stunning visuals, compelling storytelling, and vital information, making them essential viewing for anyone concerned about the future of our planet.

Environmental documentaries go beyond mere entertainment; they are a call to action and a source of enlightenment. In a world grappling with climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, these films highlight the intricate relationships between humans and nature. They reveal the impacts of our actions on the environment and showcase the relentless efforts of individuals and communities working towards sustainability and conservation. By bringing these issues to the forefront, environmental documentaries play a crucial role in fostering a more informed and conscientious global citizenry.

These documentaries are not just visual tours of our planet's natural wonders; they are narratives that provoke thought and inspire change. They challenge viewers to reconsider their relationship with the environment and to acknowledge their role in its stewardship. Through compelling storytelling and breathtaking cinematography, these films underscore the urgency of environmental issues and the collective responsibility we bear to address them.


10 Must-watch Environmental Documentaries and Docuseries:



The Burning Season

burning forest

This compelling documentary delves into the complex issue of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, a crucial ecosystem facing severe threats due to climate change and human activities. The film follows the efforts of activists, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are caught in the middle of a battle to save this vital environmental resource. It explores the challenges of balancing environmental conservation with economic needs, particularly focusing on the controversial practice of burning forest areas for agricultural development. The documentary is a poignant portrayal of Amazon's critical role in the global climate system and the urgent need for sustainable solutions to protect it.


The Disenchanted Forest

little orangutan

This captivating and intimate documentary delves deep into the world of orangutans, the enigmatic "forest persons" of the Malay and Indonesian languages. As the only great apes native to Asia and genetically close to humans, orangutans face the dire threat of extinction. Crafted over two years, the film provides an in-depth look at the lives of these remarkable creatures, the critical challenges to their survival, and the dedicated individuals working tirelessly to ensure their future.

A key focus of the film is the groundbreaking discovery that orangutans possess a unique culture, passed down through generations, challenging the traditional belief that their survival relies solely on animal instinct. This documentary not only highlights the plight of orangutans but also celebrates their complex social structures and cultural heritage, offering a profound message about conservation and our connection to the natural world.


Chasing Ice

huge ice in the sea

This visually stunning documentary follows photographer James Balog's mission to capture the melting of glaciers using time-lapse cameras. 'Chasing Ice' offers a tangible, visual representation of climate change, showcasing the dramatic transformation of landscapes due to global warming


There Once Was An Island: Te Henua e Nnoho

village and boy running

In this poignant and thought-provoking documentary, viewers are introduced to the unique and endangered world of Takuu, a small atoll in Papua New Guinea and home to the last of its Polynesian culture. As the community faces the harrowing realities of climate change, including a devastating flood, three residents – Teloo, Endar, and Satty – invite us into their lives, sharing their deepest fears and hopes.

The documentary captures their dilemma: to either relocate to the conflict-ridden region of Bougainville, becoming environmental refugees, or to stand their ground against the rising tides. Alongside the personal narratives, two visiting scientists conduct research on the island, offering both the audience and the community crucial insights into the broader impact of climate change. This film is not just a story of survival; it's a compelling call to action and empathy, highlighting the human cost of environmental crises.



a man who witnessed a fire

In response to the catastrophic bushfires that swept through Australia in 2019-2020, this upcoming documentary examines the role of climate change in exacerbating these fires. It explores the historical and cultural significance of fire management practices used by Indigenous Australians, known as "firestick farming," and how these practices could be essential in preventing future disasters. The film aims to shed light on the intersection of traditional knowledge and modern science in tackling climate change issues and preserving Australia's unique ecosystems.


To die in the deserts

a cowboy carries a bench cross in the deserta cowboy carries a bench cross in the desert

Amidst the vast landscapes of northern Mexico's semi-desert, an expedition is underway. The mission: is to trace the remnants of cardenche, a soulful and melancholic song genre that has narrated tales of love, disdain, remorse, and tragedy. Deeply embedded in the histories of cotton farmers and miners, this poignant tradition, now teetering on the edge of oblivion, is a testament to resilience and endurance. As the journey delves deeper, the profound significance of cardenche emerges, revealing a song not just of emotion but of sheer survival.


The Cove

a diver and dolphins

A gripping and emotionally charged docu that exposes the brutal dolphin hunting practices in Taiji, Japan. This Oscar-winning film combines undercover tactics and activism, shedding light on the dark side of the fishing industry and animal exploitation.


Kangaroo Island

a large reddish rock and the sea

Nestled off Australia's southern coast, Kangaroo Island is a gem of unparalleled biodiversity. Beyond its immaculate beaches and majestic mountains, the island boasts diverse terrains ranging from lush bushlands to an intriguing desert realm. While its landscapes are breathtaking, it's the island's rich wildlife that truly captivates. Kangaroo Island is renowned as a sanctuary for its abundant kangaroos and lovable koalas, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike.


Before the Flood

man and elephants in the jungle

Produced by and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary presents a sobering look at the impacts of climate change worldwide. It explores various aspects of environmental degradation and features interviews with scientists, activists, and world leaders.


Back to the land

a man goes into the jungle

This short film is a creation of Gilles Laurent, brought to life by his editor Marie-Hélène Mora and producer Cyril Bibas. It provides an intimate look at the desolate landscape surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant. Through the lens of Laurent Fénart, the cameraman, viewers are transported into the eerie silence of abandoned towns, juxtaposed with poignant encounters with the inhabitants who remain. The film captures the haunting beauty and the profound impact of the disaster on both the land and its people.


These documentaries serve as a crucial reminder of the beauty and fragility of our natural world. They illustrate that understanding and protecting the environment is not a choice but a necessity for the survival of our planet. As the naturalist David Attenborough once said, "The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are dependent on that world. It provides our food, water, and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it." As we move forward, let these films be a catalyst for change, inspiring us to take action and protect the only home we have, Mother Earth. 


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