The Unmissable Documentary To Watch This Week

With the environment and health of the planet at the forefront of many people’s minds, it was only a matter of time before Netflix documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ went viral. Described by critics as a “shocking indictment of the commercial fishing industry” the film shines a spotlight on the dubious practices and damage done by the global farming of the world’s oceans. Here’s why it’s a must watch…
The Unmissable Documentary To Watch This Week

First – a warning. Netflix documentary Seaspiracy is not for the faint-hearted. Directed and narrated by 27-year-old British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi (and produced by the same team behind 2014’s factory farming exposé Cowspiracy) the film not only puts into stark relief the devastating impact commercial fishing has on the world’s marine life, it also exposes just how corrupt the multibillion-dollar seafood industry is.

On that point, the documentary makes no secret of how often Tabrizi’s investigation is cut off or halted – he’s refused interviews and is clearly unwelcome by many who work in this world – but it ends up proving plastic and oil pollution are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The most sobering fact? Mass farming – much of which is illegal – could in fact result in empty oceans by 2048, and in short, human beings cannot survive without a balanced marine life. 

It’s a message echoed by similar documentaries like A Life On Our Planet. In that, David Attenborough explains how our ignorance of the natural world – and the delicate balance it requires in order to thrive – could lead to our very own destruction. And not in millions of years, but barely a few decades. 

The Unmissable Documentary To Watch This Week
The Unmissable Documentary To Watch This Week

If you’re wondering whether this is some sort of passion project or podium for Tabrizi (his entire family is vegan, and he’s had a keen interest in the environment since childhood), think again – the facts more than speak for themselves. Viewers will have to stomach the moment when the Thai fishing industry is accused of using slave labour to catch shrimps and prawns; or when it becomes clear discarded plastic fishing equipment makes up 46% of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the north Pacific Ocean; or that some 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed every year inadvertently as part of other mass fishing programmes. Want more? How about the fact that most of the salmon caught around the world is full of disease thanks to unsanitary storage conditions. It’s enough to put you off your fish fingers.

Drawing further comparisons to A Life On Our Planet, the film does switch to a more upbeat note about half-way through. Okay, so the shock has probably morphed into bleak despair by this stage, but it’s clear Tabrizi is determined to leave his audience with the message that change is possible – even if the only practical solution appears to be changing our diet to consume less fish, and thus limit the demand these industries so salaciously rely on. 

Seaspiracy’ is available on Netflix now.
 

Inspired? The other environmental documentaries to put on your watch list…

A Life On Our Planet

Released in 2020, A Life On Our Planet is narrated by wildlife expert and renowned television presented David Attenborough. The film essentially acts as his "witness statement", through which Attenborough shares first-hand his concerns for the current state of the planet due to humanity's impact on nature, as well as his hopes for the future. It’s a sobering watch, but if you want more after seeing it through, there’s also a companion book to get stuck into.

Available on Netflix now.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a 2014 documentary exploring the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and investigating the policies of a few environmental organisations. It looks at various environmental concerns, including global warming, water use, deforestation and ocean dead zones, and suggests that animal agriculture is the primary source of environmental destruction.

Available on Netflix now.

Kiss The Ground

The official selection at last year’s Tribeca film festival, Kiss The Ground is narrated by and features Woody Harrelson (alongside a host of other celebrity names including Gisele Bundchen), and claims to reveal the first viable solution to our climate crisis. By regenerating the world’s soils, it argues we can completely and rapidly stabilise Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. 

Available on Netflix now.

The Milk System

Much like Seaspiracy and Cowspiracy tackle to the marine and meat industries, this German-made film delves into the hidden costs and consequences of global dairy production – and offers up possible solutions. Now a billion-dollar industry, the film also sheds light on the responsibilities of politicians and consumers, with farmers, industrialists, scientists and experts all given the chance to have their say.

Available on Netflix now.

Food Choices

This documentary explores the impact that food choices have, not only on people's health, but also the health of our planet and on the lives of other living species. It also discusses several misconceptions about food and diet, as well as offering up practical solutions for people to live more sustainably. It took award-winning filmmaker Michal Siewierski three years to make, and the resulting film including interviews with 28 world-renowned experts, including Dr T Colin Campbell and Dr Richard Oppenlander. 

Available on Amazon Prime now.

Unity

Described as “a study in the duality of man”, Unity sets out to prove that, even after thousands of years, mankind still can't get along with each other, the animals or the environment – despite the clear advances made in science, literature, technology, philosophy and religion. Featuring a star-studded cast acting as co-narrators, celebrities like Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren and countless others explain why it’s more important than ever for human beings to work together – and what might be possible in a harmonious world. 

Available on Amazon Prime now.

Down To Earth With Zac Efron

This eight-part series follows the actor as he travels around the world discovering healthier and more sustainable ways to live. From Sardinia and Iceland, Efron learns about everything from eco-villages to the tap water system, and what we as human beings can do to play a more active role in the preservation of the planet. 

Available on Netflix now.

My Octopus Teacher

Nominated at this year’s Oscars, this unexpected hit from 2020 follows a year in the life of filmmaker Craig Foster, who forges a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest. As part of the film, Foster describes the effect his relationship with the octopus had on him, specifically in regard to the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature. It also shows how this translated into Foster creating a deeper bond with his son.

Available on Netflix now.

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