Films on the Future

Commanding Heights:
The Battle for the World Economy

Documentary 2002 NR 360 minutes. Based on the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, this three-part PBS documentary series is the story of how the new global economy was born. It traces the rise of free markets during the last century, as well as the process of globalization. There are three segments – 1. “The Battle of Ideas” (primarily between Capitalism and Communism);  2. “The Agony of Reform” (after the end of Communism)  3. “The New Rules of the Game” (of Globalization). See Full Review

Surviving Progress

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr. 26m. This bracing documentary considers whether human “progress” stemming from the Industrial Age could be paving the way for civilization’s collapse. The film asks a range of thinkers whether the modern world might be headed for a “progress trap.”

Earth Report
State of the Planet 2009

Documentary National Geographic 2009 NR 50 minutes. This National Geographic special gives planet Earth a head-to-toe checkup, examining the overall health of our environment through an in-depth analysis of global development and how it has affected our natural resources. With a nod toward the future, the documentary also spotlights a number of corporations, people and government agencies making an effort to adopt ecofriendly policies and behaviors.

A Crude Awakening
The Oil Crash

Documentary 2006 NR 83 minutes. In this straight-from-the-headlines documentary, award-winning filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack examine the world’s dependency on oil and the impending chaos that’s sure to follow when the resource finally runs dry.

The End of Poverty?

Documentary 2008 NR 104 minutes. Exploring the history of poverty in developing countries, filmmaker Philippe Diaz contends that today’s economic inequities arose as a result of colonization, military conquest and slavery, with wealthier countries seizing the resources of the poor. Narrated by Martin Sheen, this absorbing documentary includes interviews with numerous historians, economists and sociologists who shed light on the ongoing conditions that contribute to poverty. See Full Review

The World Without Us

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 21m. This provocative documentary probes what would happen if the United States were to suddenly remove itself from the world stage, giving up its self-appointed role as a global policeman and withdrawing into its own borders.

The Future of Food

Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. Before compiling your next grocery list, you might want to watch filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia’s eye-opening documentary, which sheds light on a shadowy relationship between agriculture, big business and government. By examining the effects of biotechnology on the nation’s smallest farmers, the film reveals the unappetizing truth about genetically modified foods: You could unknowingly be serving them for dinner. Anyone following the legal policies of Monsanto – the massive company with the “Imagine” tagline – or the plight of the North American farmer will need to watch this movie, even if they already believe they know everything they need to. But the rest of us need to watch ‘The Future of Food’ as well, since a sustainable food supply should be at least of some importance. Consider some points in the movie: * the insecticide and herbicide companies have bought out the majority of seed companies * these companies are genetically modifying the seeds and patenting them * today just a few companies own the rights to the majority of farm-grown products * large corporations (i.e., Monsanto) are winning lawsuits against much smaller farmers because genetically modified seed that is patented has blown onto their farms. The film conveys somewhat one-sidedly and briefly the history of food, but focuses mainly on the court cases and the how the individual farmers were affected by them. So is the movie good. Absolutely. Comprehensively covers a complex subject in an understandable and engaging way. We’ve been showing this film in neighborhood centers for a couple of years now, and people sitting on hard uncomfortable folding chairs are transfixed by what they’re seeing. No one walks out. I have seen quite a few documentaries on the subject..this is the best. Everyone should see this, gain some perspective on what is going on with food and the future of the entire world really. Nothing you wouldn’t expect… Corporate greed, money, and ignorance, but a nice non-bias POV. Add this to your que now, and wake up and take a stand against these crooked companies poisoning you and your family. See Full Review

The End of the Line

Documentary 2009 PG 1hr 22m. Filmmaker Rupert Murray traverses the world exposing the devastating effects that overfishing with modern technology is having on fish stocks and exploring the real solutions to solve the crisis. The film’s point that overfishing occurs, and has dire repercussions. International fishing guidelines are regularly ignored by poachers and individual governments to astonishing degrees; in some cases, the suggested maximum catch is exceeded by tenfold or more. Overfishing can result in 1) ecological disasters, as when a species goes extinct or becomes endangered it can have consequences such as increase of algae or other such biological problems that wreak more havoc than one would imagine; and 2) significant loss of jobs, as if there are no fish to catch there are no fishermen to employ. See Full Review


Documentary 2007 PG-13 123 minutes. Michael Moore sets his sights on the plight of the uninsured in this Oscar-nominated documentary that uses Moore’s trademark humor and confrontational style to ask the difficult questions and get to the truth behind the health care crisis. In the world’s richest country, 45 million people have no health insurance, while HMOs grow in size and wealth. Moore also explores the widespread use of antidepressants and their possible link to violence.See Full Review

Sick Around the World

Documentary Frontline 2008 NR 60 minutes. With the U.S. health care system needing urgent care, Frontline looks to other leading capitalist democracies to see how their health care systems operate and whether those systems might be a model for much-needed reform at home. But are Americans willing to accept taxation or socialized medicine? Will U.S. insurance providers undermine change? Correspondent T.R. Reid examines systems in the U.K., Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan. Four in five Americans say the U.S. health-care system needs “fundamental” change. Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health-care system, or are these nations so culturally different from us that their solutions would simply not be acceptable to Americans? Frontline correspondent T.R. Reid examines first-hand the health-care systems of other advanced capitalist democracies — UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan — to see what tried and tested ideas might help us reform our broken health-care system. See Full Review

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. Typical documentaries either take a snapshot of the current time or they present a history of what happened in the past. The conceptual brilliance of this movie is that it places itself at a point in the not-too-distant future, and it uses actual news and documentary footage of the present day to make its case. This is a warning about the present when the human race has become so corrupted by consumerism that it just got too stupid to be able to pay sufficient attention to its own survival. One sign that stupidity is endemic within our genes can be seen in the fact that, as of 2010, only 15,500 NetFlix members bothered to watch and rate this film. Compare that figure to the 4.5 million members who watched and rated the science fiction film The Fifth Element. This movie ought to be required viewing in every high school through the world, along with student essays and debates based on its ideas, before the next crop of young consumers are unleashed into the marketplace. However, this film was cute but shallow. I can’t take any movie seriously that says in less than 60 years the human race goes extinct. It’s like movies from the 1950s that claimed everyone in the 2000s would be in flying cars.


Documentary 2009 NR 1hr 20m. In an avant-garde soliloquy, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert details his unnerving theories about the inexorable link between energy depletion and the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrial world. This is a really good movie with lots of valid points and true information–Ruppert knows his stuff. However I do want to raise a couple of issues. First off, were I to recommend a documentary to someone that deals with these concepts, it would not be this one. Had this been the first ‘alternative’ thing I’d watched, I would have felt hopeless, beaten, and probably just said, “screw it.” Second, it covers a lot of topics in very sparse detail. He makes a very quick point and then moves on to the next thing. No references, no sources, no deep analysis, just a guy in a chair, chain smoking Marlboro lights, quickly moving through everything that’s wrong with our system (most of which he’s right about, mind you).

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Sci-Fi 1981 R 95 minutes. In this sequel to the dystopian action-adventure Mad Max, Mel Gibson returns as the heroic loner who drives the dusty roads of a postapocalyptic Australian Outback in an unending search for gasoline. Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defendants of a fuel-depot encampment are the bizarre warriors commanded by the charismatic Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson), a violent leader whose scruples are as barren as the surrounding landscape.

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