(Also listed as Renewable Energy)
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Documentary 2006 PG 91 minutes. Amid a volatile climate of ever-changing gas prices, this documentary delves into the short life of the GM EV1 electric car — a fuel-efficient auto that was once all the rage in the mid-1990s and now has fallen by the roadside. How could such a green-friendly vehicle fail to transform lives? Through interviews with government officials, former GM employees and concerned celebs, filmmaker Chris Paine seeks to find out. See Full Review
Revenge of the Electric Car
Documentary 2011 PG-13 90 minutes. Four vastly different yet equally driven auto industry visionaries rush to develop and market the first commercially successful electric car in this follow-up to the provocative documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?
Documentary 2010 NR 84 minutes. Bypassing politics and fingerpointing, this forward-thinking documentary zeroes in on enterprising individuals — from a wind farmer to a solar-panel retrofitter — who are devising business-minded ways to avert the looming climate crisis. The cross-country expedition yields encounters with Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson, Earth Day founder Denis Hayes and former CIA director James Woolsey, along with everyday pioneers in low-carbon living.
Documentary 2010 NR 101 minutes. An unsettling wake-up call to all Americans, this documentary dissects the country’s dependence on foreign pipelines, exposes rich oil companies’ devious dealings, and explores alternative fuels as a viable solution to our global energy crisis. Narrated by actor Peter Gallagher, the film includes interviews with government officials, scientific experts, academics and politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The Big Energy Gamble
Documentary Nova 2009 NR 53m. Looking ahead toward the challenges associated with global warming, this “Nova” special examines California’s strategies for dealing with emerging energy crises and asks whether they can be applied to the nation as a whole. Highlights include a look at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut carbon dioxide emissions and champion energy efficiency in the state, an approach that has drawn some controversy.
(Fields of Fuel)
Documentary 2008 NR 111 minutes. With America so dependent on oil, filmmaker Joshua Tickell sets out to prove that biodiesel, made from vegetable oil, is a viable alternative. Although politicians and energy execs have done their best to quell it, the benefits of biodiesel are real. This documentary (winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance) chronicles Tickell’s quest to popularize the untraditional fuel source, citing the environmental and economic advantages the country could reap by adopting it.See Full Review
Houston, We Have a Problem
Documentary 2008 NR 81 minutes. Taking viewers inside America’s oil industry, this documentary from director Nicole Torre goes straight to the source to get the skinny on the global energy crisis and the voracious American appetite for oil that’s fueling it.
Documentary Frontline 2008 NR 116 minutes. “Frontline” producer Martin Smith investigates the environmental impact of big business. For years, corporations fought against compliance. That all changed when investors, advocacy groups and governments pressured companies into responsibility. But going green isn’t necessarily the norm in developing countries, as Smith reveals in his journey around the world to learn how businesses everywhere are dealing with the issue.
Sprawling From Grace
The Consequences of Suburbanization
Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 22m. Over the years, Americans have spread across the country in waves of movement from cities to suburbia. This thought-provoking documentary explores the negative aspects of this situation, especially the dependence on automobiles and foreign oil. A host of prominent figures — including former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Michael Dukakis — discuss innovative ways to build cities and our need for new energy strategies.
Escape from Suburbia
Documentary 2007NR1hr 34m. After condemning America’s oil dependency in his 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia, filmmaker Gregory Greene here addresses the solutions that will avert catastrophe, outlining the issues actively moving the energy crisis from theory to reality. Spurred to action by the realities of peak oil, Greene focuses his camera on individuals across the country brave enough to challenge and instigate their communities into serious change.
The End of Suburbia
Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. This provocative documentary examines the history of suburban life and the wisdom of this distinctly American way of life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that comes with it — good and bad. How has the environment been affected by this lifestyle, and is it sustainable? Director Gregory Greene dares to ask all the tough questions.
The Age of Stupid
Docudrama 2008 NR 1hr 28m. In the desolate future of 2055, an archivist combs through a vast collection of videos to learn what went wrong with the planet. His research points to the first decade of the century, when humans blithely ignored the warning signs of climate change.
Documentary 2008 NR 180 minutes. With gas prices drifting ever higher — and global economies faltering as a result — this PBS series provides a well-timed examination of sustainable transportation. In the episodes presented here, viewers learn about a Paris mayor’s initiative to get residents to relinquish cars for bikes and public transportation; the restoration of the Cheonggyecheo Stream area of Seoul, Korea, in an effort to reduce traffic; and more.
Documentary 2007 NR 180 minutes. Oscar winner Morgan Freeman narrates this thought-provoking examination of an environmentally friendly future through the lens of policy, technology and innovation. Segments cover California’s accomplishments in emission control; inefficiencies in transportation; ethanol in Brazil and its future in the United States; solar energy used to fight poverty in Bangladesh; wind power in Minnesota; and the future of coal and nuclear power.
Solar Energy: Saved by the Sun
Documentary Nova 2007 NR 56 minutes. From Germany’s wildly successful renewable energy program to the possibility of “solar paint,” “Nova” explores the technologies, research, innovation and economics behind the efforts to harness the sun’s power. The program delves into research at Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Lab, tours solar-paneled homes, visits the world’s largest solar thermal plant and examines the potential to capture the sun’s energy using nanotechnology.
Documentary 2006 NR 50 minutes. With an eye on the future, this thought-provoking History Channel special examines the potential of wind, water and the like to literally change the way we live. The higher gas prices climb, the more people look to alternative energy sources that are reliable and renewable. Could harnessing the power of biofuels, geothermal energy, the sun and shifting tides be the key to humanity’s long-term survival?
Documentary 2006 NR 60 minutes. Anyone despairing about the effects of global warming can take heart after watching this documentary about the hope offered by alternative energy sources. Introducing viewers to a raft of individuals working to create a new energy paradigm — from the president of the world’s largest solar panel company to a family living off the grid in Iowa — the film brings a wealth of new ideas to the debate about global warning.
The Last Mountain
Documentary 2011 PG 1hr 35m. This is a gripping documentary that follows ordinary citizens in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley as they wage a campaign to prevent the infamous Massey Energy Company from expanding ruinous mountaintop removal mining operations. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the people of Coal River for show us that corporations have to be held accountable for their greed and belief that profits trump life. Explores wind turbines as alternative use of the mountaintops. See Full Review
“Clean Coal” and the Battle for Our Energy Future
Documentary Center for Investigative Reporting, 2010 88 min. Dirty Business is the best and most comprehensive look at global dependence on coal, and explores some promising alternatives. The film by Peter Bull is built around the work of Jeff Goodell, who wrote the important book Big Coal. Goodell begins with the devastating impact of coal mining in Appalachia. He remembers when he first saw the impact of mountaintop removal mining: “It was like the first time you look into a slaughterhouse after you’ve spent a lifetime of eating hamburgers.” The film travels to Mesquite, Nev., where residents are fighting a coal-fired plant, and also to China to explore the health impact of coal there—an important piece of the story not included in any of the other films reviewed here. The film’s strength is its exploration of alternatives to coal—wind, solar thermal, increased energy efficiency through recycling “waste heat”—which makes this a valuable resource for science as well as social studies classes. The treatment of carbon dioxide sequestration may confuse students; the film simultaneously suggests that this is a terrible idea in North America but a good one in China. But, on the whole, Dirty Business is a fine and lively overview of a complicated issue.
Tortillanomics: Food or Fuel?
The Competition for Mexico’s Corn
Mexico is among many countries worldwide dealing with unrest caused by rising food prices. Frontline/World reporter Malia Wollan discovers that increasing demand for corn-based biofuel in the United States is driving up the cost of Mexico’s staple food, the tortilla.
Documentary 2010 NR 83 minutes. Exposing the downside of wind turbines. Director Laura Israel’s illuminating documentary underlines the harmful facets of harnessing wind power, including the constant noise and potential for financial opportunism. This could have been much better balanced. Most of it covered the locals’ opinions as to whether they wanted wind turbines. Documenting the angst of the residents seems to have been the whole point of the project rather than a realistic pros-and-cons approach. Extremely disappointed in this. I really wanted to know the proven negatives to windpower. I wasn’t exposed to any. I already knew that people don’t want change, especially in their own neighborhoods. But just because someone says something negative does not make it true, and that was all I was given,..Say-So that I was expected to accept as researched fact. I am very interested in finding out who funded this and what the agenda was to do so. Believe me, I am fine with watching one-sided documentaries that are filled with facts backing up that one side. I can always watch another one-sided documentary filled with facts for the other side.. I am not fine with one-sided documentaries that don’t bother with facts. That is PROPAGANDA.
See Also: FILMS ON NUCLEAR POWER
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