5 Films That Inspire Environmental Activism


Still image from Catching the Sun

Earth Day. Rhymes with birth-day, but the festive energy is not guaranteed. Since the day was first celebrated in 1970, our climate has changed at a remarkable rate as modern industry struggles to sate the appetites of a growing global population. We could point you to media such as An Inconvenient Truth, The Day After Tomorrow, or Apple TV+’s newest climate-centered series: Extrapolations. We suspect, however, that if you are reading this blog, you are no stranger to the gloomy long-term forecast looming over us. At this point in history, few are confused about the reality that saving the planet means saving ourselves. So this month, we selected several variations on that theme.

The list below is not exhaustive. Explore more of New Day’s films ahead of Earth Day on the environment and sustainability. You’ll find narratives of tragedy and activism, the history of fights won and lost over water, inspiring commitments to endangered species, in short, an array of films that explore one of our most pressing challenges from all angles.

Upstream, Downriver (New!)

By Maggie Burnette Stogner, 2022, 31 mins

Upstream, Downriver takes viewers into the heart of the battle for water justice. Powerful stories with frontline community activists are interwoven with historical context about landmark regulations that significantly reduced water pollution in the U.S. but failed to serve disadvantaged communities that are hardest hit by today’s climate crisis.

And if you’re moved by this film of Maggie’s, make sure to check out her other environmentally-focused work, Unbreathable: The Fight For Healthy Air, a collaboration with Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath.

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The Lost Bird Project (New!)

By Todd McGrain, 2022, 63 mins

The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s endeavor to memorialize them. The film follows McGrain as he searches for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiates for permission to install his large bronze sculptures there.

And make sure to also check out Todd’s first environmentally-focused film in New Day, the beautiful and touching Elephant Path.

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Loving With Three Hearts / Amar Con Tres Corazones (New!)

By Nomy Lamm, 2021, 39 mins

How do eight crip artists collectively create a performance about the effects of climate chaos on their lives during an uncontrolled global pandemic, unprecedented wildfires, and the same old racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableism? That’s the story of Loving With Three Hearts, a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to make We Love Like Barnacles: Crip Lives & Climate Chaos.

¿Cómo es que ocho artistas crip crean de forma colectiva un performance sobre los efectos del caos climático en sus vidas durante una pandemia global descontrolada, incendios forestales sin precedentes y el mismo viejo capacitismo racista, homofóbico y transfóbico? Esa es la historia de Amar con tres corazones, un vistazo detrás de las escenas sobre lo que se necesitó para hacer Amamos como percebes: vidas crip y caos climático.

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Water Warriors

By Michael Premo, 2017, 22 mins

Water Warriors is the story of a community’s successful resistance against the oil and gas industry. When an energy company begins searching for natural gas in New Brunswick, Canada, Indigenous and white families unite to drive out the company in a campaign to protect their water and way of life.

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Catching the Sun

By Shalini Kantayya, 2016, 73 minutes

An eye-opening look at workers and entrepreneurs on the forefront of the clean energy movement that will transform, and enliven the way you see the future. What is clear is the wonderful opportunity the transition to clean energy represents.

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