At the end of the day, it’s usually really nice to just chill on the couch and watch a relaxing movie. But sometimes you might actually want to learn something from a documentary. It can be hard to choose which documentary to watch. After all, there are now quite a lot of documentaries available. Do you want to watch a movie with some depth and get inspired? In this article, I have composed a list of the best documentaries, movies and series currently available on several streaming services so that you can have an educational evening!
Check out my favorites, in no particular order:
Une Année Difficile
The title of this movie translates to “A difficult year”.
The opportunistic friends Albert and Bruno found each other because they are both deeply in debt. When they meet a group of climate activists, they smell an opportunity to raise some money.
A group of environmentalists offer the protagonists free drinks and unintentionally give them new opportunities. Wonderful combination of comedy and a deadly serious subject. Both anti and climate-activist will love this. From the makers of Intouchables.
The Biggest Little Farm
Heartwarming documentary about the change from the big city to the countryside. Follow a couple as they convert a piece of barren land into a unique self-sufficient farm. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chester’s unlock and uncover a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.
Watch on Netflix.
Honeyland is a documentary from 2019. It portrays the life of Hatidže Muratova, a lonely beekeeper of wild bees who lives in the remote mountain village in Macedonia and follows her lifestyle before and after neighbors move in nearby.
Bigger than us
A movie by Dutch-Indonesian changemaker Melati Wijsen. Melati has been committed to the future of the young generation for years. In Bigger Than Us, Melati takes us on her journey around the world to connect with other young activists who, at the risk of their own lives, try to right the wrongs of previous generations. A hopeful documentary that shows that at a time when everything seems to be falling apart, the young generation is fighting for a better world. After this movie you will be inspired to be an activist yourself!
Watch on Cinetree.
Before the flood
Before the Flood is the product of an incredible three-year journey. Leonardo Di Caprio and his co-creator and director Fisher Stevens went to every corner of the globe to document the devastating impacts of climate change and questioned humanity’s ability to reverse what may be the most catastrophic problem mankind has ever faced. There is a lot to take in. Watch on YouTube or Disney+.
Fantastic Fungi is a descriptive time-lapse journey about the magical, mysterious and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth that began 3.5 billion years ago. This documentary will provide an engaging look at the scope of an organism that is so much more than a pizza topping or an ingredient in beef stroganoff. Watch on Netflix.
For everyone who is passionate about ocean life. The filmmaker sets out to document the harm that humans do to marine species – and uncovers alarming global corruption. He explores environmental issues affecting oceans, including plastic pollution, ghost nets and overfishing, and argues that commercial fisheries are the main driver of marine ecosystem destruction. The film rejects the concept of sustainable fishing and criticizes several marine conservation organizations.
Watch the documentary on Netflix.
Producers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn investigate the effect of livestock farming on the environment. On this aspiring environmentalist’s shocking but funny journey, they search for real solutions to the big problems.
Watch on Netflix. After this you will be thinking about still eating meat and fish…
The title of this movie translates to “Tomorrow”. Our planet is under threat: natural resources are being depleted, temperatures are rising and the population is growing. Our ecosystems can no longer cope with the pace at which all this is happening. In search of solutions to this problem, Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion travel with their team to ten different countries. There they meet pioneers who are trying to reinvent agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education to make the world more livable. All these initiatives have one thing in common: they are small local groups of people who come up with an alternative to the current failing model.
Watch on Cine and Pathe thuis.
Check out this article for more information on the movie.
Aamion and Daize Goodwin are legendary surfers. They have a three-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter. They embark on a surfing adventure that takes them across six continents; fifteen countries and forty cities. Together with their friend Jess Bianchi, they decide to make a movie of it. You experience the movie through a child’s eyes.
Stream Given on Amazon.
You are what you eat
In a scientific experiment, identical twins adopt different diets and lifestyles for 8 weeks to see how food impacts the body. The subjects were given their meals for the first four weeks, and had to prepare their own meals during the second 4 weeks. You also get a glimpse into the bio industry and that is not so positive.
Watch “You are what you eat” on Netflix.
Minimalism examines the simple lives of minimalists from all walks of life–families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are living meaningfully with less.
The goal of this movie isn’t to get people to throw away all of their possessions and move into a tiny house with a stool as their only furniture. The goal is merely to ask yourself why you own the things you own, what they add to your life, and can you live and prosper in life without them.
Watch the documentary on Youtube.
Woman at war
Halla is a fifty-year-old independent woman. But behind the scenes of a quiet routine, she leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. The film is absurdist, comical and special, but at the same time captures the powerless feeling about climate change in a very real way.
Watch on Cinetree.
Check out this article for more information about “Woman at War”.
Welcome to Sodom
Where does your used phone or computer go when you buy a new one? It is most likely to end up in Agbogbloshie in Ghana; the largest electronic waste dump in the world, containing over 250,000 tons of electronic waste from mostly western countries. About 6000 women, men and children live and work here.
They call it Sodom, after the sinful city in the bible. Despite the apocalyptic nature of this place, the end is not near: it is growing each day. This garbage bin of the our modern globalized civilization, full of short-lived technology, offers people that live on it a livelihood, but threatens their lives at the same time, because of the extreme conditions and pollution. Beautifully shot, this film shows the lives of those people who have made this place their home.
Stream on Amazon.
The human scale
Half of the human population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this will increase to 80%. Life in a megacity is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities through four decades. What will happen if 80% of us live in cities in 2050?
Watch on Amazon.
In the beautiful forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. The children are accustomed to reading many forms of college-level literature, and, while showing high aptitude and intelligence beyond their years, they are socially awkward as they have not been socialized with the outside world. Is self-sufficient living in the forests so ideal?
Watch on Cine Art.
David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
At the age of 94, Sir David Attenborough released perhaps his most important film. You are watching the film David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet on Netflix. This film is Attenborough’s personal story about the state of nature on our planet. Even though the show consists of CGI animals, long-extinct dinos, and various special effects, the team worked hard to make sure the whole story was historically accurate.
Watch on Netflix.
I am Greta
We know Greta Thunberg as the Swedish girl who became world famous when, as a 16-year-old, she decided to go on strike for the climate every school day. She is now internationally booked as a speaker and countless young people see her as an example. But who is Greta really? You can see it in the intimate, inspiring documentary “I Am Greta”.
Don’t look up
When astronomer Randall Mindy and his intern Kate discover that a comet will end life on Earth in six months, they immediately contact NASA and set up an appointment with the US president. He cannot use this bad news in the run-up to the elections and decides not to take any action for the time being. Together with space defense expert Dr. Oglethorpe, they decide to leak their findings to the media, but that does not appear to have the expected effect.
Watch this movie on Netflix.
Kiss the ground
A revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers and politicians band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies and feed the world.
The shared name was inspired by a poem by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi which reads: “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
Watch on Netflix.
White plastic sky
Last but not least: an animated feature film in post-apocalyptic Budapest in the year 2123. In this year, humanity can only survive if people transform into a tree at the age of 50. A visually beautiful and current film that also tells an endearing love story between a young couple.
Watch the movie on Picl.
Looking for more sustainable (lifestyle) tips? Check @Duurzaamdevries on Instagram!