Who doesn’t admire a well crafted animation? Especially one that lifts the spirit and emboldens you to uproot oppressive systems and make way for a better world.
Here are seven short animated films we loved in 2021. Stories that make us angry and sad in parts, but also fire our hearts and inspire action for people and the environment we’re part of.
These beautifully-made films have it all. From precious ways of life and nature threatened by industrial agriculture, plastic pollution and climate breakdown. To people organising to resist fossil fuel giants, call out big name corporations and hold governments to account.
Above all, they show how women, youth and the most affected communities are leading – with courage and vision – to protect what we love and shape a more green, just and joyful future for us all.
Polluters & Plunderers: The Roots Of Africa’s Crises
This is the first in a powerful series of animated short films from our friends at the African ecofeminist alliance WoMin.
Through beautiful and moving animation, Polluters and Plunderers tells a part of the story that rural and working-class communities across the African continent have confronted from the start of colonisation to present day global capitalism.
This is a story of lives disrupted and destroyed, of environmental catastrophe caused by unfettered extractive industries, of the violence perpetrated upon Brown and Black people, and of the exploitation of women’s labour of care and harm inflicted on their bodies.
But, it is also a story of resistance led by women and their communities as they rise to defend people and nature, and put forward a different vision of Africa and their ideas for a different life for its peoples, freed from plunderers and polluters. Find out more about the film and the work of WoMin.
The Right to Say NO: Women Defend Africa’s Wealth
As climate chaos impacts Africa and Africans, who have contributed least to a rapidly heating planet, this animation tells the story of people resisting a fossil-fuelled economic system. A system that steals their livelihoods, exploits their labour, destroys the ecosystems on which life depends, and is ultimately causing planetary crisis.
This second film in the WoMin series shows the ways in which rural, peasant and working-class women and communities are asserting their Right to Say NO to the theft of Africa’s wealth – land, forests, water bodies and species – while also putting forward visions of a better world. Watch the film now.
The next episode, out in 2022, explores alternatives to the dominant extractive development in Africa, that people are courageously protecting and proposing. You won’t want to miss it!
A Plastic Story – South Korea
Set in 2050, A Plastic Story is a tender tale of a granddaughter and grandfather sharing everyday moments together, amidst the blight of plastic pollution pumped out by corporations decades earlier.
The message is clear: our children will inherit a world drowning in plastic if we do not tackle the problem now. As the film by Greenpeace South Korea shows, single-use plastics are already polluting our land, sea, and even our food. Used for seconds, they pollute for centuries.
Yet at the current rate, global plastic production – which is also propping up the fossil fuel industry and fuelling climate breakdown – is projected to double by 2030 compared to 2015.
You are also invited behind the scenes to watch The Making of A Plastic Story.
Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster – UK
The UK is the second biggest producer of plastic waste per person in the world, behind the USA. The UK government claims to be a leader in tackling plastic pollution. But in reality, they’re sending ‘recycling’ to other countries where it’s often dumped and burned, causing serious health problems for local people, for oceans and wildlife.
Local communities report serious health problems, like respiratory issues, nosebleeds and headaches. Plastic also kills hundreds of thousands of marine birds, sea mammals and turtles every year.
This film shows the amount of plastic the UK dumps on other countries every single day. That’s, on average, 1.8 million kilograms a day – or 688,000 tonnes a year of plastic waste.
On May 19, the Turkish government announced a ban on almost all foreign waste imports, including 95% of British plastic waste. This came after years of incredible campaigning from Greenpeace Turkey, and the recent launch of Wasteminster, this viral video on the issue.
Story of a Plastic Bottle
This is the video that Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Pepsi don’t want you to see.
Big Brands want you to believe they are taking steps to reduce plastic but they are actually working hand in hand with Big Oil to produce even more. Their plastic bottles have devastating effects for our health, our planet and our communities. And only 9% of all plastic waste ever made has been actually recycled.
But with your help, we can all speak up for real solutions. Share this video and sign our petition to end-single plastic and ask the Big Brands to switch to refill and reuse.
Animation by Daniel Bird for Greenpeace. Vocals and arrangement by London Community Gospel Choir.
Our society is broken – it’s time to reimagine a new one
“Let’s dare to dream and begin creating the change we want to see today.” This is the driver for 4 conversations with climate justice activists, launched by Greenpeace in Europe in January 2021.
Campaigner Georgia Whittaker, sums up the context: “The climate crisis, right-wing populism, health crisis, discrimination of all kinds, economic and political pressure on poorer countries by the rich countries, injustice and inequality — we see something terribly wrong happening to our world and how we live together within it.”
Activists and artists Guppi Bola, Chihiro Geuzebroek, Tatiana Garavito and Samie Blasingame share their visions for re-imagining tax, democratic ownership, stewarding nature and climate care.
Animation is one medium they use to show how oppressive systems intersect and impact people’s lives — and to imagine how societies could do things differently. Learn more about these climate justice conversations.
A Total disaster in Congo Basin rainforest
The scene opens with birdsong and an idyllic boat trip, but the story soon strikes a different chord. Sliding into animation, this video exposes the dystopian reality of big oil and gas companies pretending to be green while maintaining a fossil fuel addiction that’s driving the climate and biodiversity crisis.
We learn how French oil giant TotalEnergies claims they’re committed to a clean energy future while actually trying to drill for oil in a pristine forest in the Republic of Congo. A forest that’s home to many Indigenous communities, as well as critically endangered species, such as lowland gorillas. Share the video to expose TotalEnergies.
This animation is part of a series of 4 shorts showing how greenwashing and carbon “offsetting” scams are the new climate denial… and they have dangerous consequences. Learn about the #RealZero video series and the biggest book keeping trick of the century.
That’s a wrap
The best animated short films that inspire action have an amazing capacity to convey powerful stories in a small burst of time. If you liked these, check out our animation playlist on YouTube.
Did we miss one of your favourite animations in 2021? Know of an environmental justice film coming soon that you don’t want to miss? Add your tips in the comments.