Saving a dying planet. Ecological movies during 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity

Alarming data from scientists about the state of our planet is reflected in the documentaries included in the Climate for change section of the 17th Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival. The full program and tickets are available on

The movies will compete for the Green Warsaw Award, which is sponsored by the City of Warsaw. This award, pioneering among Polish festivals and given to the best movies on ecological themes, started in 2008. The festival will take place in seven cities between September 4th and 18th: Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdynia, Katowice, Poznań, Lublin, and Bydgoszcz. The online part of the event is between September 19th and October 4th

Fight for the environment

Four ecological movies presented during the Climate for Change section show different ways of saving our planet. “Wood” (dir. Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan, Michaela Kirst, Ebba Sinzinger) answers the question of why 20 million cube meters of wood are illegally obtained from Romanian forests. Who really makes money on that? Alexander von Bismarck is the director of a non-governmental organization called the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Together with an international team, he infiltrates big companies all around the world, to uncover how they produce and sell illegally obtained wood, making a fortune. A different unfair fight is being fought in “Sea of Shadows (dir. Richard Ladkani) for the endangered species in the Gulf of California. The movie crew follows a group of renowned scientists, ecologists and activists, who, in the face of government indolence and corruption, have to challenge Mexican cartels controlling illegal totoaba and porpoise fishing operations. This suspenseful documentary thriller has been produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. The heroes of “Action” (dir.  Iwo Kondefer) prepare for a mission that aims to highlight a different kind of ecological threat. What is it? The audience will find out during the screening. The master of the documentary genre, Erwin Wagenhofer paints a less dark picture in “But Beautiful”, where the heroes of his story do not fight an ecological disaster, but rather try to change their surroundings to live more ecologically and do something for their neighbors. 

How to understand nature?

The Heroes of “Spaceship Earth” (dir. Matt Wolf) and “My Octopus Teacher” (dir. Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed) want to learn the rules of the natural kingdom. The former tells the story of a group of ecologists and philosophers, led by John Alen. In the early 1990s, they organized a huge scientific undertaking called „Biosphere 2”. The project was meant to recreate the Earth’s major climate zones in microscale (jungle, desert, lowlands, and ocean with a coral reef) together with animals, birds, and insects that inhabit them. The scientists entered their “Biosphere 2” (the Earth being “Biosphere 1”) in the Arizona desert for two years. The movie “My Octopus Teacher” shows a much more intimate relationship. Eight years ago, Craig Foster started diving alone (and with no wetsuit) in the cold waters of the Atlantic off the coast of South Africa, not far from his home. One day he began the observation of a young octopus (or was he the one being observed?). Foster visited it every day, gaining the trust of his new friend. The small octopus started revealing its secrets to Foster, as he started learning the rules of the wild ocean world.

When we destroy our planet, we destroy ourselves

The movie “Rebuilding Paradise” by the Oscar®-winning director Ron Howard shows what’s going to happen if we don’t start acting on climate change. On November 8, 2018, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, the most tragic fire in California’s history devastated the small town of Paradise. 85 people lost their lives in the fire, and 14 thousand houses turned to ash, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee. The famous director decided to immediately go to the affected site. He stayed with the locals much longer than the TV crews reporting on the tragedy… Yet, it’s not just climate change that will inevitably affect our future. “The Last Male on Earth” (dir. Floor van der Meulen) documents the process of species extinction. In March 2018, in the Ol Pejeta nature reserve in Kenya, the last male northern white rhino passed away. His name was Sudan and he was 42 years old. There’s only one female left in the world, with no possibility of reproduction. The movie shows the last years of Sudan’s lonely life in captivity, where he was constantly under guard by armed security and scientists.