Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Films you should see.

Nature documentaries can often fall into the predictable especially for someone who watches a lot of them. David Attenborough is the master of the wildlife documentary but having seen so many that in each series there is rarely anything new for me to pick up. Instead I have found myself drawn more to the harder hitting documentaries.

The first one I watched was Blackfish, a film shown on BBC4 and found myself incredibly effected by it. This was some time ago so why bring it up now? Well as you may have gathered from previous blog posts I work in a school and in the last term part of the biology GCSE syllabus includes Sustainability and Conservation, these topics also dovetail also with the AS and A2 Biology course. A teacher at the school has been showing these films to his Year 10 and Sixth Form classes to supplement their studies.

It has been inspiring to see the teenagers really engage with the material and start to take an interest. They are asking pertinent questions in a mature fashion. This is the way to spread the environmental word. It is important for children to see what is happening in the world and make their own minds up. I m not saying the 60 or so kids that watched the films have all been radicalised into eco-warrriors but it has made them think about the world around them and the world they want to grow up in. We need more teaching like this, careful and provocative and above all not condescending to the children.

This has rambled on a bit now, but I suggest you take a look at these films for yourselves. You might agree with them or even disagree, you may think them accurate or misleading but use them to take an interest and formulate your own opinion and if you can do something about it.

Virunga is a documentary following four workers in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Virunga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The film explores the protection of Mountain Gorillas, surviving the war in Congo, and the threat to the park from oil extraction.

What makes this film unique is the way it balances the wildlife and the complex socio-political issues. It is not a film for the faint hearted and contains scenes many will find disturbing. For me the most moving aspects are the work of gorilla worker Andre Bauma and the efforts Warden Emmanuel de Merode takes to protect both the wildlife and his staff.

The film also highlights the bravery of the French reporters who worked undercover to reveal the bribery of park staff by multinational companies and the danger that the ongoing war in the Congo holds.
Produced by Leonardo Di Caprio Virunga was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and has won the Feature Documentary Award at DOXA in Toronto and the Golden Rock Documentary Award at the Little Rock Film Festival.

It is currently available on NetFlix


Blackfish is a moving and disturbing film about the treatment of Killer Whales (Orcas) in SeaWorld centres.  Like Virunga the film hits hard and there are some distressing scenes but it eminently illustrates why large mammals should not be kept in captivity.

The film follows Tilikum an Orca at SeaWorld in Orlando an Orca responsible for the death of 3 keepers. Rather than focus on the sensationalist aspect of the ‘killer’ killer whale the film explores the deeper psyche of the animals and how they interact with people. It left me wondering how more deaths had not occurred.

The film has stirred up controversy with SeaWorld and some of those interviewed disagreeing with the films portrayal of their animals, nevertheless the film raises important points concerning what is right and ethical regarding the captivity of intelligent animals used to roaming vast distances. 

The End of the Line

This film has a different pace and feel to the other two but is nevertheless just as effecting.
Narrated by Ted Danson the focus is very much on the science behind the problems in out seas in relation to fishing.

Through the careful examination of case studies from around the world the plight of our seas is brought home in a similar to Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall's Big Fish Fight did in the UK and Europe.

The films real impact comes from the bureaucracy and politicking that goes on behind the scenes and how scientific advise is over ridden in the pursuit of short term financial gains.

I have never been a fish eater and so I did not think this would effect me much but when looking for Omega 3 supplements I was soon looking for sustainable obtained stocks and trying to avoid Cod products.

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