Documentaries can Change the World

If you enjoy documentaries you might be changing the world. Documentaries change conversations around important issues and some are so effective at doing so that they make a real-world impact beyond the audience. By bringing issues to light these films raise awareness to problems that we as a society can solve, sometimes the solutions are complex (like Inside Job) and other times they are easier to argue for (like banning the capture and torture of whales). If you want to make the world a better place then go watch some documentaries and tell your friends about it.

Two Columbia University staffers appeared in this exposé of the 2008 financial crisis: Economist/professor Frederic Mishkin and Business School dean Glenn Hubbard. Both men were less than transparent about their professional connections to the finance world. The film reveals that Mishkin wrote a paper about Iceland’s economy without disclosing the $124,000 he’d received from the country’s chamber of commerce. Hubbard, meanwhile, grew combative when questioned about his many consulting clients. A few months after Inside Job’s release, Columbia released much stricter disclosure rules for faculty who work with Wall Street, and the economics department chair credited the movie (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2011) as a driving force.

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Focus on Sustainability Film Festival

York University in Toronto will be hosting their third annual film festival all about sustainability. This year they are running films about oil. If you’re in Toronto next weekend or nearby you should check out what’s playing and take the bus to the festival.

Planet in Focus with York University Present: Focus on Sustainability Film Festival – the annual event with this years theme on oil! This entertaining and educating experience features domestic and foreign documentaries, a panel discussion with filmmakers and academics, an interactive film display, prizes, sustainably sourced food and beverages, and an e-waste disposal program. Please join us on Friday, January 31st, 2014 in the Nat Taylor Cinema (North Ross 102 at York University) from Noon to 9:00pm.

Facebook event page.

Crowdsourcing the Meaning of Life

Some filmmakers are channelling the world to find out what the meaning of life is. Their project has started an Indiegogo campaign to fund their project and they can use your help.

The world we live in is extremely confusing and precarious. With economic meltdowns, global terrorism, ecological disasters, civil unrest, if we don’t find the answers now, there may soon be no life left to explore. Simultaneously, it is an extremely exciting time and we now have the technological tools to communicate and collaborate to find solutions that have eluded us for millenia. We are a group of award-winning filmmakers who believe in the power of the moving image to move the world, and we have initiated a crowdfunding campaign to launch a website – – where we will create a tapestry of short films that will address meaning and purpose from a diverse array of perspectives, and provide in its patchwork a beautiful and profound reflection on life for all those who are looking to be entertained, inspired, and informed.

Here’s a video they sent me about how much they like life:

Fresh: A Movie About Good Farming

Last night I went to a screening of Fresh, hosted by the West End Food Co-op in a local park. Most movies made about food recently have dwelled on the fact that industrial farming is killing us – a bad thing no doubt about it. Here’s more on industrial farming.

The good thing about Fresh is that it establishes what’s wrong with farming quickly and succinctly then spends the rest of the film celebrating good farming that’s happening. It’s an inspiring film that will make you love fresh food, crop rotation, and help you see that we can escape the control of industrial farming operations.

Waterlife on the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada has a great website for the documentary Waterlife. The site has music by Brian Eno and features a neat way to explore the issues surrounding water in the Great Lakes region of Canada.

Here’s some info on the film.

Waterlife follows the epic cascade of the Great Lakes from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean, telling the story of the last huge supply of fresh water on Earth. Filled with fascinating characters and stunning imagery, Waterlife is a cinematic poem about the beauty of water and the dangers of taking it for granted. Narrated by Gord Downie, lead vocalist of The Tragically Hip and Waterkeeper’s Trustee of Lake Ontario. Featuring music by Sam Roberts, Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Ros, Robbie Robertson and Brian Eno.

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