Waste Land


Genres: Documentary

Alison Bailes: Eco Documentaries

Transcript for Alison Bailes: Eco Documentaries

Up Next, our contributor Alison Bailes weighs in on the state of eco-documentaries.  Here’s Alison.

5 - SOT:  “An Inconvenient Truth” 

Ever since Al Gore made global warming big business at the box office with “An Inconvenient Truth,” the environment, and saving it, has been a hot topic.  And not least of all with filmmakers.  Recently, a slew of Indy films tackles topics from corporate pollution to personal consumerism.  Suddenly, the silver screen is going green.


Eco-cinema is all the rage, especially with Hollywood insiders who are often first to jump on environmental trends.  This was reflected in this year’s Academy Awards  where two of the Best Documentary Nominees focused on topical issues.  “Wasteland” which is set in the world’s largest garbage dump and “Gasland”, which looks at the business of drilling for gas in Upstate New York.

SOT “Gasland”

Actor Mark Ruffalo, a New York resident is a passionate advocate against the practice known as “fracking” and a tireless defender of raising awareness by any means necessary.

SOT: Mark Ruffalo…about how films can help raise awareness…and can make a difference.

2009’s “Low Impact Man,” on of my favorites, spends a year in the life of Colin Beavan, a New York based writer who had the extreme idea to reduce his carbon footprint to practically nothing.  He did it by eating only locally grown food, using no electricity,  and contributing next to zero to our landfills.  Met with alarm by his caffeine consuming, high-end shopping wife, this thought-provoking project shows what one man can do.  And at the very least it inspired me to be a “Less Impact Woman.”

SOT:  “No Impact Man” 

If all these documentaries aren’t enough, there’s even an Eco Film Festival. “WHOLE FOODS MARKETS DO SOMETHING REEL” will be traveling to 70 cities throughout the month of April showing 6 environmentally themed films.  And coming this June, “The Last Mountain” explores the destructive issue of mountain-top mining in West Virginia.  This prevalent practice strips away trees, severely affecting water runoff and the water supply of local inhabitants …all for big profit for big coal.

SOT: “The Last Mountain” 

These days, DVD stores (or our Netflix queues) are litteres with earnest efforts to illuminate, inform and entertain.  But are they just piling up like metaphorical garbage?  And worse, is there a danger that audiences will turn on, tune in and the then drop off?  Does eco-overload come with a price?


I confess to a little bit of burn out when it comes to these types of films, but the good ones have stayed with me and I try to incorporate some of their lessons into my own life.  And isn’t the point of cinema to have an effect?  So, if that effect can trickle down to our planet, then all the better!