Environmental Film Reviews

The Human Element


We humans are a force of nature. At the same time human activities alter the basic elements of life – earth, air, water, and fire – those elements change human life.

In an arresting new documentary from the producers of RACING EXTINCTION, THE COVE and CHASING ICE, environmental photographer James Balog captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. With rare compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT inspires us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world. Read more


David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)


This new documentary serves as the “witness statement” of 94-year-old naturalist David Attenborough, who traces his career as a natural historian and outlines how the biodiversity of our planet has degenerated over his lifetime. The narrative starts in Pripyat, the ghost city home to the former Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, and traverses across various locations including the African Serengeti. He laments over a drastic decline in wildlife, caused by humans. Attenborough ultimately articulates hopes for the future and brings to the forefront solutions that may restore biodiversity. Looking at his career that spans five decades, this could easily go down as one of the best environmental films of all time. Read more


The latest environmental films to add to your watch list

A scene from the documentary We the Power. Courtesy of Mountainfilm

We reviewed movies from this year’s Mountainfilm Festival to find out which ones are worth your time.

More people are getting vaccinated, summer is on the horizon, and the Mountainfilm Festival is back. After going virtual last year, the annual event is combining the best of both worlds in 2021. There will be a small, in-person festival in Telluride, Colorado, over Memorial Day weekend, as well as a weeklong virtual festival starting on May 31.

As a media sponsor for this year’s event, Grist reviewed seven documentaries and shorts of the more than 120 featured at the festival, available to stream for a fee. These pieces explore racism in outdoor adventure culture, chronicle the next generation’s fight for a livable planet, and lay out the story of how evangelicals came to politically oppose environmentalism. Some were deeply moving, others left something to be desired — read on for our take on which films are worth your time. Read more


Something worth fighting for

Two films tell contrasting stories about the struggle against nuclear power

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Note: Beyond Nuclear, Goethe-Institut, DC and Heinrich Böll Stiftung, DC are making The Beekeeper and 33 Days of Utopia available free to screen at home until April 6. On Tuesday, March 30, at 1pm Eastern US time, please join us, the filmmakers and protagonists for a live discussion about the films and the culture of resistance to nuclear power. Register here.

“And at that point,” says Katie Hayward, halfway through Will McGregor’s short film, The Beekeeper, “I went cold”.

Hayward, the beekeeper of the film’s title, had just seen a news report showing the expanded footprint of the proposed two-reactor Wylfa B nuclear power project on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. Hayward’s home, which her family had tenanted since 1532, was right in the plan’s crosshairs. It would be bulldozed, and the farmland paved over.

Hayward’s fight to save her bees, her home and her rescue animals escalated, while her physical and mental health plummeted. As the farms around her sold out to Horizon — the nuclear subsidiary of site owner, Hitachi — Hayward found herself almost alone, a one-woman David against a corporate Goliath. Read more at Beyond Nuclear