A wrap up of some of the best environmental movies and documentaries in 2016.

If art imitates life then surely it must mean that it’s the end of the world as we know it, and climate change is taking us all down with it.

These days, the films that we are getting down to “Netflix and chill” with have less to do with green-screen magic, explosions or mystical monsters; and more to do with the unfortunate slow catastrophe that is unfolding in the world.

Want disaster? How about a town ravaged by a super typhoon? In the mood for tension? How about the real-life David and Goliath story of the indigenous tribe defending their land against major conglomerates? Drama and action more your thing? What about illegal fishing and slavery happening out of sight, and deep in the middle of the vast ocean?

Sadly, these aren’t all synopses of fiction. We are the protagonist, corporations are often the enemy, and the world we live in is the real life “Death Star” that could be destroyed any moment now. Inspiration is in our current events, and directors, documentarians, and even celebrities are using their best weapon – the camera – to educate, engage, and entertain.

But there is hope. In every story there is a hero, and a villain. People power can, will, and always has made the world a better and safer place. Besides, all good movies have a happy ending right?

How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change

What we giveth, climate change taketh away. In this personal journey, director Josh Fox asks, is there anything that climate change hasn’t ruined?


When a 6.1 magnitude earthquake strikes, it’s not the aftermath that’s worrying. Radiation is spilling from a nuclear power plant and it’s got an entire city of millions on edge like an asteroid  hurling its way to the planet.

Influenced by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, this South Korean film is already leading the box office in the country and will be available on Netflix next year.

With nuclear power being a contentious topic in the country – this year a permit was given to construct two additional reactors at the Kori nuclear power plant, in Busan, the world’s biggest active plant - the film gets straight to the point and shows the world must never suffer another Fukushima or Chernobyl disaster ever again because nuclear never dies.


The impact of fast fashion is not just about being insta-trendy. It’s also causing insta-pollution, insta-impact, insta-destruction on our rivers through toxic chemical waste. As noted in the film:

“There is a joke in China. They say you can predict the “it” colour for the season by looking at the colour of the river”

Years of Living Dangerously

National Geographic’s series continued again this year featuring the Amazon, China, coal, the ocean, and many more.  Find out more about the series here.

Deep Water Horizon

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is recognized as one of worst environmental disasters in US history.  The tragedy impacted nature, wildlife, and 11 people died from the explosion. This year, the events of how this tragedy unfolded appeared on the big screen.

Before the Flood

Leonardo Dicaprio’s highly anticipated labour-of-love project was released this year, free for audiences around the world to see. From across the globe we see what people on the frontlines of climate change are doing – from indigenous communities to inside the halls of the United Nations. His overall message though couldn’t have been said better than during his well deserved Oscar ‘s speech:

Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species. And we need to work collectively together to stop procrastinating.

Shuk-Wah Chung is a Writer and Content Editor for the Communications Hub at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter here.