|Mursi girl from Ethiopia, in Samsara|
It was a bit all over the place - images oddly juxtaposed, vast parts of life on Earth left out (no wildlife, no oceans that make up 70 per cent of the globe), contrived shots of indigenous people staring for minutes at the camera, scenes that seemed to shame contemporary society (gun factories, cubicle workers, overcrowded chicken farms). There might not have been any commentary but the filmmakers were commenting nonetheless.
And yet, they seemed absent too. It was like someone putting a whole lot of ingredients on the kitchen counter and calling it a cake.
Samsara did tell me one thing: the world has changed since Baraka. We're better travelled than ever before, better informed, more globally aware - because of the internet (the "world wide web" was still in its infancy in 1992) and because of so many excellent documentaries in recent years.
Stepping out into the late-night heat after the movie, I started thinking of all the great eco-themed movies I've seen. Sure, they all say, things are bad (then they tell you how bad) but they usually end on a positive note (we can do something about this).
Here are my top 10 eco-movies - have you seen them all?
An Inconvenient Truth (2006) - is it really seven years since former US vice president Al Gore opened the world's eyes to the prospect of climate change and what we can do about it? The facts might be dated, the message more urgent, but it's just as watchable today as it was in 2006.
No Impact Man: The Documentary (2009) - one of my all-time favourites and the inspiration for No Impact Girl, it's the story of Colin Beavan and his one-year experiment to live with no net environmental impact, not off the grid but in the middle of New York City. See also the No Impact Project.
3. The Burning Season (2008) - did you know Indonesia has the third highest emissions in the world, because of logging, or that deforestation accounts for 20 per cent of the world's carbon emissions? This is about an Australian entrepreneur, Dorje Sun, setting up a rainforest-protecting, orangutan-saving carbon-trading scheme.
|Born free, wild dolphins|
|Rob Stewart & friends|
7. Sharkwater (2006) - another multi-award winner, this time by Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart who debunks myths about the ocean's most maligned fish and explains why they need protecting. It's a film of two parts: one is about the beauty of sharks, the other about the barbaric practice of shark-finning and Stewart's adventures to stop it.
|Monolithic dome, Fort Worth USA|
Pic by Peter Byck
9. Who remembers Soylent Green (1973)? Starring a young Charlton Heston, it's a "sci-fi" movie about a dystopian future where the world is suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted oceans and global warming due to the greenhouse effect - sound familiar?