We live in a Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon world. Americans want access to more content and information than ever before, and they want it now. However, it's also become increasingly difficult to access that content in conventional ways. The brick-and-mortar stores are evaporating, and a night-out to the multiplex requires more time and energy (and money) than ever before. If this cinema-seeking culture is trying to also remain carbon-conscious, then perhaps video-on-demand could be its salvation.
That's why, in honor of this year's Earth Day, we're highlighting a selection of eco-friendly feature films through a medium that provides hardly any carbon footprint. All you need is the power you use from a computer, or a hi-def television. No paper tickets, no gas/oil usage, no extra air conditioning, and no energy-sucking snack bar (unless that's what you have in your home but that's another matter). So, you and the environment win: having immediate access to entertainment while simultaneously saving the trees and preserving the oil.
We put all breed of films online this way every day, but we're hoping that a few environmental features can provide both education and entertainment. For example, Joey Carey and JJ Beck's documentary Greasy Rider is more than your ordinary road trip film. Beck and Carey take a 1981 Mercedes Benz, running on vegetable oil, across our great nation while interviewing eco-thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Morgan Freeman. You don't have to get inside any car to see the film now, as it's available for free on Hulu and SnagFilms.
Seemingly every day, we see news stories about the energy crisis. Through independent film, however, it seems like a topic as common as "Peak Oil" can take on new meaning and greater depth. That's certainly the case with Adolfo Doring's Blind Spot, a haunting look at our world's dependency on burning fossil fuels. You can watch it now on Dailymotion, and take action by doing more than emailing a petition; you can send cinema. Documentaries have always been a source of education and activism, but in today's connected online climate, there are more tools and more power at one's finger tips.
The stories can be as big as the entire globe, or as personal as a natural spring in Austin, TX. In Laura Dunn's award-winning documentary, The Unforeseen, folks like Robert Redford and Willie Nelson speak out about the destruction of hill country in the Lone Star State as real estate developers move in to tear down. No terrain destruction needed to see the film; it's now on iTunes and Amazon VOD.
Sometimes, though, the stories of environmental plight can be satirical and amusing. That's the case with Mark Leiren-Young's The Green Chain, a faux-documentary about a controversial battle between loggers and environmentalists in the woods of Canada. Shot like The Office, the film divides story lines from various perspectives to offer a holistic look into the issue of deforestation. The entire feature film, a hit at many festivals, is now streaming for free on YouTube.
If anything, these tales highlight just how many lives are impacted by environmental debates. Not only that, Earth Day isn't just an American event, nor should it be the only day of the year we consider our carbon. Media is quickly becoming more efficient in its production, so why not implement the same thoughts in its distribution?