Respect for the Environment

Chasing Coral
Chasing Coral

Covering the wealth of human and animal life on our planet, this film list explores the natural world and our complex, ever-changing relationship with it.

Examining the impression humans have made on the world in both positive and negative ways, it comprises of documentary and fiction films for both primary and secondary audiences featuring topics including climate change, farming practices, ethical considerations, and natural wonders.

This film list encourages students to consider their own impact upon the environment both individually and as part of a wider community as well as provoking discussion and debate as to how we can work together to protect our planet.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration72 mins

FernGully: The Last Rainforest(1992)

Charming eco-conscious animated tale about a rainforest inhabited by sprites and talking animals, who find that humans are chopping the forest down.

A magical take on an important and underexplored subject in cinema, this animated adventure leads the audience through the journey of discovery made by Zak, who learns about the vital importance of trees to human life, allowing him to appreciate the beauty of the rainforest.

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A Turtle's Tale - Sammy's Adventures

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration85 mins

A Turtle's Tale - Sammy's Adventures(2010)

A turtle's adventures travelling around the world looking for his true love and showing the damage done to the oceans.

In Sammy’s adventures around the globe during his long lifespan he discovers that the planet is changing, and learns how much of it is due to human activity. It’s not all bad news though; there are glimmers of hope in conservation projects he encounters along the way.

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Finding Nemo

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration96 mins

Finding Nemo(2003)

The colourful world of the tropical sea is captured in all its glory in this moving and funny story of a lost fish.

While Nemo is lost at sea in Pixar’s classic adventure tale, his father frantically searches the ocean in an attempt to find him. During his pursuit, the audience discovers that not all aquatic life has escaped human interference, with one scene showing the devastating consequences of man-made littering.

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WALL-E

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration98 mins

WALL-E(2008)

A small, rather hopeless looking robot is left alone on Earth to clean up the mess left by humans, in this wonderful Pixar animation.

Five years after making ‘Finding Nemo’, Pixar would turn their attentions to the future – and what may lie ahead for the human race if littering, recycling and other environmental concerns aren’t addressed. This gentle, futuristic cautionary tale shows Earth as a barren landscape with no human life left inhabiting it.

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March of the Penguins

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration77 mins

March of the Penguins(2005)

Documentary capturing the remarkable journey the Emperor penguins of the South Antarctic make every winter.

Celebrating nature’s triumph over the odds, this documentary charts penguins’ struggle to raise the next generation in their beautiful but often brutal habitat. This film explores a threatened landscape and opens up discussions on animals and the environments they rely on to survive.

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Arctic Tale

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration84 mins

Arctic Tale(2007)

Absorbing documentary about the pressure global warming puts on the arctics inhabitants' daily fight for survival.

An accessible way into the debate about climate change and how its effects can already be seen, this documentary forms a narrative about the lives of polar bear Nanu and walrus Seela in a way that will allow young children to clearly understand the threats that they face.

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One Life

CertU

Age group7–16

Duration84 mins

One Life(2011)

Spectacular nature documentary featuring amazing photography of seals, eagles, hippos and many more, narrated by Daniel Craig.

The wide variety of animal life on Earth is investigated in this entertainingly narrated documentary that looks at important processes that all living beings share. Structured through chapters on seeking food, avoiding predators and caring for young, this is an accessible and stimulating introduction to documentary for younger viewers.

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Earth

CertPG

Age group7+

Duration96 mins

Earth(2007)

Poignant nature documentary about a year in the life of planet Earth with narration from Patrick Stewart.

Featuring incredible footage compiled for the television series of the same name compacted into a feature-length film, ‘Earth’ explores the changing seasons and its effects on species across the planet. Not only informative and visually stunning, it too provides food for thought on how these creatures are affected by shifting seasons due to climate change.

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2040

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration92 mins

2040(2019)

Environmental documentary from a filmmaker attempting to find existing solutions to the climate crisis to provide a better world for his daughter.

While there are also a number of worrying scenarios addressed in climate change documentary ‘2040’, this film sets itself apart from others on the topic by providing potential solutions to the crisis and adopting an optimistic tone for what may await us in the future if we act now.

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The Biggest Little Farm

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration91 mins

The Biggest Little Farm(2018)

Documentary about a married couple who follow their dream of creating a sustainable farm over eight years.

This documentary highlights how animals of all shapes and sizes can thrive as John and Molly’s farm comes together as a perfect ecosystem. It demonstrates the love, care and attention needed in order for their farm to survive and prosper, with so many elements of nature to contend with, and the joy it brings them over many years.

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Princess Mononoke

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration128 mins

Princess Mononoke(1997)

Animation in which a prince travels west to cure a curse, and finds the animals there are battling townsfolk trying to destroy their forest.

Studio Ghibli’s enchanting anime – like many of their works – focuses on nature, the environment and mankind’s interaction with it as one of the key themes of the film. ‘Princess Mononoke’ showcases both our capacity of destructive behaviour as well as the possibility of an optimistic future where all beings live together in harmony.

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2040

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration92 mins

2040(2019)

Environmental documentary from a filmmaker attempting to find existing solutions to the climate crisis to provide a better world for his daughter.

While there are also a number of worrying scenarios addressed in climate change documentary ‘2040’, this film sets itself apart from others on the topic by providing potential solutions to the crisis and adopting an optimistic tone for what may await us in the future if we act now.

Read more
The Biggest Little Farm

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration91 mins

The Biggest Little Farm(2018)

Documentary about a married couple who follow their dream of creating a sustainable farm over eight years.

This documentary highlights how animals of all shapes and sizes can thrive as John and Molly’s farm comes together as a perfect ecosystem. It demonstrates the love, care and attention needed in order for their farm to survive and prosper, with so many elements of nature to contend with, and the joy it brings them over many years.

Read more
Princess Mononoke

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration128 mins

Princess Mononoke(1997)

Animation in which a prince travels west to cure a curse, and finds the animals there are battling townsfolk trying to destroy their forest.

Studio Ghibli’s enchanting anime – like many of their works – focuses on nature, the environment and mankind’s interaction with it as one of the key themes of the film. ‘Princess Mononoke’ showcases both our capacity of destructive behaviour as well as the possibility of an optimistic future where all beings live together in harmony.

Read more
Powaqqatsi

CertU

Age group11+

Duration99 mins

Powaqqatsi(1988)

A shocking, beautiful film made up of a series of images of the world around us, focusing on the industrialisation of the developing world.

The title of this impressionistic documentary is taken from Hopi Indian, combining the idea of a sorcerer who takes energy from others to exist with the essence of life itself. This vision is applied on a global scale as we see how industrialisation affects civilisation and the planet, in both positive and negative ways.

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Chasing Coral

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration89 mins

Chasing Coral(2017)

Documentary about the phenomenon of coral bleaching and its devastating impact around the world as a result of climate change.

A beautiful documentary to look at it from the director who previously made ‘Chasing Ice’, this film examines the irrevocable damage being done to coral reefs around the world with remarkable insight and access from scuba diving researchers. Like ‘2040’, though, it retains an element of optimism, arguing that all is not yet lost if we act decisively.

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Rebuilding Paradise

Cert12A

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Rebuilding Paradise(2020)

Documentary about the community of Paradise, California who must attempt to rebuild their town after devastating wildfires in 2018.

Ron Howard’s emotive documentary also examines the destruction climate change can cause, in this case on a community who are forced to evacuate their town after dreadful wildfires. There is also an important and interesting discussion point raised within a section of the film around the ethics of towns being built on sites which are at greater risk of natural disasters.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration91 mins

Beasts of the Southern Wild(2012)

A beautiful blend of fantasy and drama sees an isolated community threatened by a storm, told through the eyes of a remarkable young girl.

This fictional drama also looks at natural disasters, in this case an impending storm, and the effect it may have on an isolated community in the Louisiana bayou. This slice of magical realism examines the strange and wonderful ways of the natural world through the eyes of a courageous six-year-old girl.

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The Cove

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration87 mins

The Cove(2009)

Documentary exposing the hidden impact of dolphin hunting in Japan.

This investigative documentary uncovers the horrific dolphin hunts which regularly take place in Japan as a group of eco-activists use hidden cameras to capture this footage. Though it contains some tough scenes, ‘The Cove’ is a crucial piece of non-fiction storytelling which explores an underreported occurrence of animal harm in the wild.

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Encounters at the End of the World

CertU

Age group14+

Duration96 mins

Encounters at the End of the World(2007)

When legendary director Werner Herzog journeys to Antarctica, the people he meets there are just as fascinating as the wildlife.

Acerbic director Werner Herzog turns his attention to researchers based at the South Pole, attempting to uncover what drove them to pursue a tough lifestyle at ‘the end of the world’. This film celebrates their pioneering spirit and dedication to science, as well as capturing some beautiful footage of the South Pole’s natural inhabitants.

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I Am Greta

Cert12A

Age group14+

Duration102 mins

I Am Greta(2020)

Intimate documentary following the influential environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her quest to prevent climate change.

Teenage eco-activist Greta Thunberg is a global icon for her dedication to the cause of preventing climate change in any way we can. This documentary gives insight into her personal life, with intimate access afforded to the filmmakers, as we discover her feelings about the media, her family and other aspects of her life.

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The Salt of the Earth

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration110 mins

The Salt of the Earth(2014)

Documentary about the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado over the last four decades.

An insight into the scope of human life on earth through the lens of photographer Sebastião Salgado. When Salgado changed his focus from humanitarian crises to the natural world, it became his mission to preserve the environment. Showing the delicate balance of human life and its dependence on the health of the planet, this is an eye-opening and inspiring film.

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