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High mind: 10 documentaries you need to watch on lockdown

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed


Published April 12 2020

Documentaries to fortify the mind on lockdown

With most of us voluntarily sequestered into our homes, as daily we nourish our bodies, we are using lockdown to fortify our minds. Here we compiled a list of 10 documentaries you need to watch on lockdown. These documentaries can serve as a reminder of what exists beyond us, and what is at stake. This comprehensive list touches on several subjects encompassing environmental issues, fast fashion, the economy and animal welfare — stories rarely voiced in mainstream media.

The pandemic will force us to imagine a world anew, breaking with the past. Here we develop our understanding of the origins of these systemic, interconnected issues and empowered, how we can respond adequately. Informing ourselves is probably one of the most important things we can do right now. What documentaries are you watching while on lockdown?

The End of Suburbia — 2004, Gregory Greene


Recommended by
Tracey

Why you’ll want to watch it This film discusses the theory, evidence, and implications of peak oil within the context of the American suburbs, eventually questioning — is modern suburbia sustainable? For decades Americans, and I would argue, equally, New Zealanders have consumed more energy, more everything, built bigger houses, and driven more. And much like American cities were designed for the car, Auckland is a sprawling city obsessed with lawns and building more roads for private vehicles — feeding a false sense of individualism. For many, there will be some strange sense of comfort understanding our suburbia is manufactured as we create a world anew — with less of the material and a deeper connection to the immaterial.

Available from

YouTube

An Inconvenient Truth — 2006, Davis Guggenheim


Recommended by
The Internet

Why you’ll want to watch it Al Gore’s famous documentary from 2006 while dated is still relevant regarding climate change — at least. Focused on Gore’s quest to save the planet, this documentary also rightfully exposes the threats human activity is causing to our environment. Fourteen years later, in those uncertain times, it might be more pertinent than ever to look back and measure the progress achieved (or not!) by our global society and leaders to avoid unalterable damages.

Available from

YouTube

The True Cost — 2015, Andrew Morgan


Recommended by
Amandine

Why you’ll want to watch it How much does a $10 tee shirt really cost?? The True Cost investigates and showcases the manufacturing ecosystem of cheap clothing, from designers to makers and sellers. This documentary unveils the dark story behind an industry responsible for 10% of the annual global carbon emissions on the planet, mass pollution and modern slavery. The True Cost made me understand the economics of cheap things and their consequences. If you are or know anyone subscribed to the idea of fast fashion, this documentary is a must-watch.

Available from

Netflix

Before the Flood — 2016, Fisher Stevens


Recommended by
Amandine

Why you’ll want to watch it While filming the Revenant in 2015, oscar-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo Dicaprio saw firsthand the consequences of global warming. This documentary he produced and provided commentary is an overview of what is at stake—a reminder that climate change threatens our condition of living and the existence of the human species. As the COVID-19 and the climate change crisis are intertwined, watching this documentary with a new context is not a bad idea. And if you like Dicaprio as much as I do, it is an opportunity to enjoy his presence on the screen, I guess.

Available from

Amazon

iTunes

Google Play

Ever the Land — 2015, Sarah Grohnert


Recommended by
The Internet

Why you’ll want to watch it Discover the Tūhoe iwi, one of New Zealand most independent Maori tribes. The unfolding of their longtime battle against the Crown to take back their ancestral land, and their intent to heal historical wounds lead the iwi to project into a future woven between indigenous values and 21st colonisation heritage. Their response is Te Wharehou o Tūhoe; the tribe headquarter whose documentary follows the planning and construction, under the strict criteria of the International Living Building Challenge. Profoundly moving, Ever the Land is a story about the bond between the Tūhoe tribe and their land—their testament to their values and vision of self-governance, and a reminder of our connection, with ourselves, each other and the land sustaining us.

Available from

TVNZ OnDemand

How the Economic Machine Works — 2013, Ray Dalio


Recommended by
Tracey

Why you’ll want to watch it I think it is difficult to have meaningful conversations surrounding the economy without at least being acutely aware of the basic principles. In order to deeply understand how our economy works, watch this video from Ray Dalio. This 30-minutes video breaks down economic concepts such as credit, debt cycles and interest rates — the driving forces behind the economy, how economic policies work, and why economic cycles occur. Essential viewing.

Available from

YouTube

Tomorrow — 2015, Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion


Recommended by
Amandine

Why you’ll want to watch it This joyful documentary features existing world-changing solutions to face the climate crisis. Covering off agriculture and energy, education and economics — Tomorrow features brilliant and innovative minds, optimistic individuals or groups that have taken their destiny in hand in pursuing alternative and creative ways forward, imaging a new world. Tomorrow is the feel-good documentary we sure need in this moment.

Available from

Tomorrow website

A Plastic Ocean — 2016, Craig Leeson


Recommended by
Amandine

Why you’ll want to watch it Plastic is not that fantastic, quite the opposite. What started as a documentary on whales became a comprehensive overview of the consequences on our planet’s waters, plants and wildlife, of the overconsumption of plastic—synthetic material that became essential in our society. A Plastic Ocean features the tangible images of plastic pollution that we don’t measure the spread of, the impacts and the danger. An eye-opening documentary that will make you think twice about your next purchase.

Available from

Netflix

Blackfish — 2013, Gabriela Cowperthwaite


Recommended by
Amandine

Why you’ll want to watch it Blackfish narrates the fate of killer whale Tilikum, taken from the ocean at a young age and exploited throughout North American aquatic leisure parks and US corporate SeaWorld. A genuinely moving story that unfolds the dreadful truth about marine mammals exploitation, and beyond. This poignant documentary is a powerful reminder of how ignorant and selfish humans are, and forever changed the way I look at the animal business. Tilikum passed away in 2017 from bacterial infection at the age of 35—wild orcas have an estimated lifespan of 60 up to 100 years old.

Available from

Vudu

Cowspiracy — 2015, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn


Recommended by
Tracey

Why you’ll want to watch it Obviously people were divided on this one, I won’t go into it here, though I would perhaps read the response to criticism here and then watch the documentary. There are what will be for many some uncomfortable truths — though there is no denying that a world that largely thrives on plants, that at least becomes plant-centric, is a better world, a happier world, a healthier place, and it is a world changed.

Available from

Netflix

Everything we create is an effort to participate in a culture shift. All products featured are independently selected and curated by the authors, and we only feature items we use or would use ourselves that align with our values. As part of our business model, we do work with affiliates such as Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you decide to purchase through our links. The price would be the same to you either way, but if you find value in our work, then these affiliate links are a way to support it. We only recommend brands, makers and products we use — that we support. Transparency is important to us, so if you have any questions, please reach out to us.

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