5 Documentaries About Life on Earth Every Family Should See
We’ve been on a documentary kick lately. When Netflix o’clock rolls around, we can be found camped out on the couch attempting to educate ourselves. We’ve really learned about some fascinating topics from healthy living to conspiracy theories. In a media world saturated with alternative facts and fake news, well-researched documentaries have been our compass in understanding what we believe.
Every time we watch, I think, “Other people have to know about this! This is fascinating and I’m so motivated.” So, in an effort to relieve my husband of my recurring chatter about these important issues, I thought I’d share.
Before the Flood
From producers Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio this National Geographic film presents inarguable scientific facts about climate change. The cameras follow Leonardo DiCaprio as he visits five continents and the arctic to speak with thought leaders about the impact our lifestyles have on Earth’s delicate ecosystem.
Fact: In the past 5 years, the rate of ice volume loss has doubled in Greenland and tripled in West Antarctica. (Read more important facts.)
Catching the Sun
British filmmaker, Shalini Kantayya, illuminates (pun intended) the subject of transitioning to solar energy and the race to get there in the U.S. and China. Her film follows an entrepreneurial project in Richmond, California that employs low-income workers to install solar panels. It also addresses the common misconceptions that solar energy is only affordable for the wealthy and the need for a sunny climate. The entire documentary project’s goal is to influence government officials and transition our planet to 100 percent renewable energy sources.
Fact: The amount of solar power that strikes the earth in an hour is enough to supply the world with power for more than a year. (Enlighten yourself with more solar power info.)
Mix equal parts education of human anatomy with the quirkiness of Bill Nye and blend with shocking facts, humor, and a not-so-funny glimpse into the country’s food industry.
Australian Damon Gameau demonstrates in this film the effects food marketed as “natural” or “low-fat” has on a healthy body. Through clever humor, animated trips into the human body, and a dive into hidden agendas of giant corporations, this film is a potential game-changer for the conventional American family diet.
Fact: Americans consume enough sugar in a lifetime to fill an industrial-sized dumpster. (Satisfy your information craving.)
If you haven’t heard of Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus yet, I bet you will be seeing more about them very soon. These two millennial dudes set out to teach everyday people about living abundantly simple lives. The film takes a deep dive into American consumerism, how we’ve been on a marketing-driven economic ride and how to rethink priorities. This film can be a catalyst for an entirely new way of thinking about how much stuff we actually need.
Through their blog, speaking, and documentary, The Minimalists, Joshua and Ryan, spread kindness and the benefit of having time to really listen to people. Their film really explains minimalism as a way of life, not simply the act of decluttering, and that it will look different for different families.
The beautiful love story behind this title is as simple as the title itself. Sweet, gentle Koko the gorilla, was raised by Penny Patterson, a Stanford grad student at the time she began work at the San Francisco Zoo in 1971. The scientist began an experiment in communication with Koko by teaching her sign language. The gorilla’s ability to learn, understand and express herself through ASL astonished everyone. Koko has mastered hundreds of signs. She and Penny still live together as though they are mother and daughter. The film really brings all the warm, fuzzy feelings. And it’s an encouraging tale of how even humans and gorillas, really aren’t that different, sharing the planet together.
Fact: A study in 2012 on captive populations revealed that female western lowland gorillas use a type of ‘baby talk’ to communicate with their babies.
These films have really shifted the way we think about ourselves, our interactions with each other, and the world around us. I hope they’ll do the same for you.