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Docs to watch: Planning A (Green) Recovery

Tuesday 14 July, 2020

We're not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot, but there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Now that it's time to start the long process of rebuilding, can that include changing the socio and economic structures we're not happy with? Now seems like a good time to take stock, pool knowledge and look for blueprints on what the future might look like.

This collection of docs to watch online features people who have tried (not always successfully!) to carve out systems for better ways to live - from sustainable farming, to online education - as well as a few visions for the future to aim for or to avoid.

THE EXPERIMENTAL CITY / Chad Freidrichs / 2017 / 95 mins

In the 1960s, renowned scientist, inventor and comic-strip author Athelstan Spilhaus dreams of a new kind of city environment. Alarmed by a growing environmental crisis in America, he designs a domed metropolis where technology and innovative design eradicate the excessive pollution and waste levels typical in contemporary cityscapes.

Spilhaus receives funding and support from high government officials, prominent scientists and political insiders to build ‘The Experimental City’ in rural Minnesota. Yet his utopian dream is halted with resistance from rural residents and state conservationists, who are driven by mistrust and pessimism. The Experimental City looks at the hopes and realities behind this mission to build a city of the future.

Watch The Experimental City on Vimeo on Demand

Then catch up on DocHouse's post-screening discussion in partnership with Urban Lab Films, hosted by Professor Matthew Beaumont (UCL Urban Laboratory) with Dr Amy Chambers (Manchester School of Art) and Darran Anderson (author). 

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING / Avi Lewis / 2015 / 89 mins

Inspired by Naomi Klein's non-fiction bestseller, This Changes Everything presents seven portraits of communities on the frontline of climate change, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

Focusing on resilience and the potential for change, This Changes Everything attempts to reshape the narrative of the climate crisis, and to find a catalyst for overturning an economic system that preferences profit over the environment. 

Watch This Changes Everything on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube and iTunes. 

2040 / Damon Gameau / 2019 / 93 mins

From solar-powered microgrids and driverless electric cars to farming models that include carbon capture, in 2040 Damon Gameau focuses on ideas and technologies that we already have.

Structured as a 'visual letter' to his 4 year old daughter, Gameau explores what 2040 could look like if we embrace the best existing solutions to the climate crisis and moved them rapidly into the mainstream.

Check the Together Films 2040 page for lots of ways to watch online. 

GOOD THINGS AWAIT / Phie Ambo / 2014 / 90 mins

Niels Stokholm is one of the most idealistic farmers in Denmark. He runs a biodynamic farm with his wife, Rita, and from their farm, Thorshøjgaard, they distribute products to some of the best restaurants in the world. But not everyone is equally fond of Thorshøjgaard and their holistic methods. Authorities and bureaucracy threaten to close down the farm.

Phie Ambo follows their struggle to make sure that they are not the last to do agriculture the way they do, but some of the first.

Watch Good Things Await on Vimeo on Demand.

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM / John Chester / 2018 / 91 mins

In 2011, cameraman John and private chef Molly sold their tiny apartment, bought 200 acres of barren land and taught themselves how to farm the old fashioned way. In a world of mono-cultures, pesticides and industrial processes, they set out to run a farm in perfect harmony with nature.

As the dream of organic biodiversity is beset by the reality of maggots, predators and drought, John and Molly's determination and ingenuity are tested to the limit.

With a delightful cast of animals, from a very fertile pig to a greasy cockerel, John and Molly's story is one of big dreams, hard work and learning to appreciate the wisdom of nature.

Watch The Biggest Little Farm on iTunesRakuten, Curzon Home Cinema or Sky Store. 

THE SCHOOL IN THE CLOUD / Jerry Rothwell / 2018 / 85 mins

TED-Prize winner Sugata Mitra pioneers a form of education where children – specifically those in under-privileged areas of the world where schools are sparse – can teach themselves a curriculum through computer-based learning.

Director Jerry Rothwell follows Mitra as he explores the possibilities of his theories, meets the teachers and students inspired by his approach, and opens the 'School in the Cloud' classroom in the rural village of Korakati, India.

Watch The School in the Cloud on Vimeo on Demand

You can see the DocHouse Q&A with director Jerry Rothwell on the DocHouse online hub

SEED: THE UNTOLD STORY / Jon Betz & Taggart Siegel / 2016 / 93 mins

In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food.

In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. 

Watch Seed: The Untold Story on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube and iTunes

DocHouse hosted a Q&A with director Taggart Siegel and David Price from The Seed Cooperative in 2017. Watch it on the DocHouse online hub

THE AGE OF STUPID & WHAT IF? / Franny Armstrong / 2009 & 2019 

It's been over 10 years since Franny Armstrong's game-changing feature documentary The Age of Stupid, which cast the late Pete Postlethwaite as a desperate man in 2055, surveying the destruction that's been wrought on planet Earth and questioning why we didn't stop climate change when we had the chance.

In 2019, to mark a decade since releasing the film, Armstrong directed a follow up ten minute short, What If? 

This 'mini sequel' stars Ed Miliband, Jon Snow, Jonathan Pie, Jack Harries, Tamsin Allen, Chris Packham and Caroline Lucas as inhabitants of a planet uncannily like Earth in which the people are doing everything they can to stop climate change. 

Watch The Age of Stupid on Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.  

Watch What If? above and through the Spanner Films website