7 Films About Our Home, Planet Earth

A still from the film Into the Dark. A person is in the dark with just a red light on their head. They're intently looking at something.

On Monday, April 8, 2024 the moon shielded a swath of North America from the sun’s light. During the four minutes of totality in the middle of the afternoon, the natural world instinctively began its nighttime routine: crickets chirped, chickens entered the coop, and some felt the cosmic call to mate.

A total solar eclipse reminds us that we are part of something magnificently greater than ourselves. We can witness first hand the pirouette of our solar system inside the celestial ballet of our ever-expanding universe.

In his book Pale Blue Dot, the great Carl Sagan famously captures how the study of astronomy can profoundly affect our appreciation for our planet, and move us to take greater care of her. In 1990, upon Sagan’s suggestion to NASA, the spacecraft Voyager 1 took a photo of Earth from 4 billion miles away. The resultant image of Earth floating in the vacuum of space - a tiny blue speck in a faint band of light - inspired Sagan to write:

“The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand….There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” (Listen here for Sagan’s inspiring reading of a longer excerpt.)

It is with this astronomical point of view that this month we turn our eyes towards some films at New Day whose subjects and themes intersect with the environment, climate, and habitability of this, our good Earth, the only home we have.

Cruise Boom

By Ellen Frankenstein, 2023, 55 mins

A small Alaskan town braces for a rapid expansion of cruise ship tourism, pushing residents to grapple with benefits, impacts and what they can control. A portrait of a community on the cusp of change in the face of the global tourism industry.

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Do I Need This?

By Kate Schermerhorn, 2023, 62 mins

This quirky, relatable, and profound award-winning film delicately interweaves the filmmaker’s complicated relationship to her family possessions during the late stages of her parents’ lives, together with a journey into the homes and minds of her fellow Americans - from a Buddhist monk to a woman who hoards and hides it, and a colorful cast of characters in between.

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Stewards of The Land

By JuanMa Pagán Teitelbaum, 2022, 92 mins

Stephanie, Ian and Alfredo are landless ecological farmers striving to produce healthy food for local consumption in Puerto Rico. In this economically depressed US-territory -highly dependent on food imports and a frequent target for hurricanes– producing food locally is urgent. The documentary shows the protagonists’ grit as they attempt to carve a living without land ownership or capital.

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That Which Once Was

By Kimi Takesue, 2022, 20 mins

In 2032 an eight-year-old Caribbean boy, displaced by global warming, fends for himself as an environmental refugee in a hostile northern metropolis. Haunted by memories of flooding that left him homeless and orphaned, the boy forms an unexpected friendship with an Inuk ice carver who helps him confront his past.

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Upstream, Downriver

By Maggie Burnette Stogner, 2022, 32 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.

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Into the Dark

By Michael O. Snyder, 2021, 28 mins

Battling subzero temperatures and forty-foot seas, an international team of scientists embark on a perilous winter expedition into the darkest regions of the Arctic. Their mission: to understand how trace amounts of light may be radically altering the mysterious world of the polar night. What they discover has implications for the global climate and the future of the Arctic.

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Three Ocean Advocates

By Andrea Leland, 2021, 29 mins

An artist, a fisherman and a photographer take actions that inspire hope for our ailing oceans. Our oceans are suffering from plastic pollution, climate change, and acidification. Viewers see through example, how our actions can help determine the health of the ocean for generations to come.

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