Film recommendations

How do movies deal with climate change? To what extent can movies raise public awareness for this topic? In collaboration with ECOMOVE International the Goethe-Institut has put together a series of films entitled Climate.Culture.Change that addresses the causes of the climate crisis and presents a few possible ways out. Moreover, the Goethe-Institut recommends 30 outstanding movies on the topic of climate change.

Additional recommendations

Petropolis © Autlook filmsale GmbH

Just as diverse as the causes and effects of climate change is the treatment of this topic in the media. As a supplement to the film series “Climate.Culture.Change”, Goethe-Institut, together with ECOMOVE International, has compiled a list of further recommendable films and TV productions.

Various views of climate change

The list of recommendations presents over 30 outstanding films and TV productions from all parts of the world (including Brazil, Mexico, USA, India, Russia) and opens up a wide range of audio-visual approaches: genres, narratives, thematic aspects, retrospectives and perspectives. The selection runs the gamut from mainstream feature films, such as the American Hollywood production The Day After Tomorrow, via sensitive observations, such as the Indian documentary film Where is my Home? Child of the Environment, to disturbing, atmospheric approaches, such as the Canadian short film Sunday Afternoon.

In the compilation of the films the guiding idea was to place side by side diverse views of the phenomenon climate change, thus producing a larger, more complete picture. A TV thriller such as Burn Up, for example, is able to expose power connections and individual entanglements, while a documentation such as The Oil Crash supplies the facts. In an empathetic approach, the Brazilian film Herança gives a voice to those affected by climate change, while the animation film Delivery transports the feeling of fear of the future into a stunning, menacing world of imagery.

Medial orientation aid

The aim of the recommendation list is to make this impressive diversity in the treatment of the topic of climate change available to all those who may be interested. It functions as a medial orientation aid in a very confusing thematic landscape. It is not only the Goethe-Instituts throughout the world that are invited to use this pool for their daily film work. Institutions, NGOs and interested private persons also have the chance to gain commented access to media focussing on questions of climate and sustainability. For this reason, along with a synopsis as well as a short evaluation and/or categorisation of the film, the contact address for the respective production is also supplied. We sincerely hope that in this way we can help these films, all of which are well worth seeing, to gain as large an audience as possible.

Climate change is an existential topic that will continue to be of concern to our societies. Nor will it cease to be of interest as a film subject in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, it is to be expected that the cultural significance of such questions about the future will increase considerably all over the world. For this reason the recommendation list has been conceived as an open platform that is to be constantly expanded, supplemented and updated. The global network of Goethe-Instituts and their proximity to the various regional contexts and their cultural products offers ideal conditions for a continual expansion of the recommendation list to a comprehensive international data bank.

Thematic categorisation

The recommendation list is divided into four thematic sections.

Under the heading Climate Change - Facts, Utopias, Catastrophes the phenomenon is examined in its visible and palpable effects on people and nature. Also discussed here are the massive fears and the hopes triggered by climate change.

The films in the category Old and New Energies set off in search of the energetic causes of the climatic catastrophe. This section showcases not only the modern fetish concerning the finite resource of oil, but also already existing alternatives and possible perspectives.

The humanitarian effects of climate change are the subject of the films in the section People in Change are concerned. Alongside societal and individual tragedies caused by climate change, these films also focus on the impulses for change which are inspiring and activating people all over the world.

Finally, the film block The Threatened Planet presents more of a general view of the relationship between humankind and nature. Intensive reflections and the view from above are in the foreground here – the reality behind the figures and fates.

Creating new perspectives

The medium film offers great potential when it comes to focussing and reflecting on the problems of our age and thus presenting them as a subject of societal “discussion”. Goethe-Institut’s recommendation list wishes to support the utilisation of the medium film to a far greater extent than has been the case hitherto. For films can create new perspectives and inspire new ways of thinking. All over the world.

Michael Greif
is head of the ECOMOVE International office in Hamburg where he is responsible, among other things, for media and communication projects, the curating of film series, as well as media consulting in the field of sustainability.

Translation: Paul McCarthy
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion
April 2010

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