Oct 22, 2021

Cancel the Apocalypse: Here Are 41 Documentaries to Help Unlock the Good Ending

By Films For Action / filmsforaction.org
Cancel the Apocalypse: Here Are 41 Documentaries to Help Unlock the Good Ending
Stop imagining the apocalypse; start imagining the revolution.

Our present moment is saturated in dystopian, apocalyptic fantasies of the future.

As the late Mark Fisher said, "It's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” We can envision a thousand ways that humanity might destroy itself and the rest of the world, but positive visions of the future remain severely lacking in comparison. Why is that?

The Dark Ages led to the Renaissance. Feudalism led to capitalism. No era remains stagnant forever. But there's an invisible meme in our culture today that says capitalism is the greatest economic idea humanity has ever invented and it will never be surpassed. That's why a thousand dystopian visions of the future all imagined that capitalism stayed the same, our economic paradigm never evolved... and then the world was eventually destroyed. Could the two be connected? Is our failure to imagine something better than capitalism going to be what actually leads to "the bad ending" for humanity? 

What this points to, in our view, is a crisis of imagination.

Humans at heart are storytellers, and we enact the stories we tell ourselves. As we've written before, our culture is enacting a story that's destroying the world. If humanity is going to unlock "the good ending," we've got to imagine it first. We've got to imagine ten thousand localized versions of it. That's how things change. 

Fortunately, visions of a more beautiful, compassionate, regenerative future already exist. But since they're not being broadcast daily on the evening news, we've got to dedicate a little more energy to broadcasting them ourselves.

This is what this list of films is for. These films decided that the apocalypse is canceled. Climate change is canceled. Biodiversity loss is canceled. A comeback of this scale has never been attempted before, but that's why it's going to work. Ya dig? The people in these films aren't listening to the folks that say it's too late. They're imagining the future they want, not the future they're afraid of, and they're bringing that future into being.

Whether we're ultimately successful is not the point, and beyond anyone's ability to truly know. The point is that our true nature calls us to choose determination over defeat, and courage over despair. 

We hope these films inspire the former - that place in your heart that knows a better world *is* possible, and is ready to make it happen.

 

Planet Local: A Quiet Revolution
51 min · Planet Local: A Quiet Revolution, a film by the international NGO Local Futures, shows a quiet and transformative revolution emerging worldwide.
Bioregional Living: A Permaculture Guide to Food and Energy Independence | Andrew Faust
31 min · In this 30 minute video, Andrew Faust shares his inspiring vision for greater food and energy independence. It's a guide to feeding and providing power for our local communities in ways that are not just "sustainable" but truly...
Tomorrow: All Over the Globe, Solutions Already Exist (US-Only)
120 min · “Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment”. — Paul HawkenWhat if telling a story that gives hope by pointing out solutions was the best way to solve the...
2040: Join The Regeneration (US-Only)
91 min · Award-winning director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted...
2012: Time For Change
85 min · This film presents an optimistic alternative to apocalyptic doom and gloom. Directed by Emmy Award nominee João Amorim, the film follows journalist Daniel Pinchbeck, author of the bestselling 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, on a quest...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
92 min · Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the...
The Economics of Happiness
65 min · Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction...
The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?
61 min · Opening with a powerful ‘deep time’ perspective, from the beginning of the Earth to our present moment, BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's new film recognises the fundamental unsustainability of today’s society and dares to ask...
The Evolution of Ecological Consciousness | Andrew Faust
109 min · Permaculture designer Andrew Faust gives us an inspiring and heady narrative about the evolution of all life and human consciousness on Mother Earth. 
Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future
85 min · Living the Change explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to...
A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
79 min · A Simpler Way follows a community in Australia who came together to explore and demonstrate a simpler way to live in response to global crises. Throughout the year the group built tiny houses, planted veggie gardens, practised simple...
The Nature of Cities
40 min · THE NATURE OF CITIES follows the journey of Professor Timothy Beatley as he explores urban projects around the world, representing the new green movement that hopes to move our urban environments beyond sustainability to a regenerative...
Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life
60 min · Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment...
Money & Life
86 min · Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous opportunity?  
A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil
51 min · Cities should be a solution not a problem for human beings. The city of Curitiba has demonstrated for the past 40 years how to transform problems into cost-effective solutions that can be applied in most cities around the world. A...
India's Healing Forests: Come Home, Be Healed
51 min · All our knowledge comes from nature and yet nature is a source of many mysteries.
InterReflections: A Story about The Greatest Revolution of Our Time
165 min · InterReflections is an experimental, mixed genre narrative feature film by Peter Joseph, adapted from his book The New Human Rights Movement. The ambitious, nearly 3 hour work challenges not only contemporary thinking about society, it...
Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas
95 min · From Venezuela's Communal Councils, to Brazil's Participatory Budgeting; from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across the hemisphere -- this documentary is a journey, which takes...
Within Reach: Journey to Find Sustainable Community
87 min · Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than...
Communities Of Hope: Discovering the Ecovillages of Europe
29 min · COMMUNITIES OF HOPE is a film born from a quest to discover a regenerative culture.
Shift Change: True Stories of Dignified Jobs in Democratic Workplaces
70 min · At a time when many are disillusioned with big banks and big business, and growing inequity in our country, employee ownership offers a real solution for workers and communities. SHIFT CHANGE visits thriving cooperative businesses in...
Imprint
75 min · What can one person do? What can a group of people do? What do we want to leave behind? In the film "Imprint" we visit 13 projects in 13 different places where committed groups work for a vibrant future. A personal and poetic depiction...
A New Story for Humanity: Change the Story, Change the World
102 min · A New Story For Humanity presents a beautifully and sensitively woven tapestry of the rich diversity that is the human family. Featuring interviews on the essential topics of our time: from cosmology to ecology, from ancient wisdom to...
In Transition 2.0: A Story of Resilience & Hope in Extraordinary Times
66 min · This film is an inspirational immersion in the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. There are stories of communities printing their own money, growing food...
Zeitgeist: Moving Forward
162 min · A feature length documentary by Peter Joseph that presents the case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society.
Feeding Ourselves
96 min · Feeding Ourselves weaves intimate stories from the hopes and convictions of rural BC farmers and producers as they navigate undercurrents of uncertainty with our food system. Their commitment to local food culture inspires us to...
School Circles: Every Voice Matters
89 min · School Circles is an independent documentary that explores the practice of democratic schools in the Netherlands. The film shows students, teachers and staff members coming together to dialogue, discuss proposals, mediate conflicts and...
A Bold Peace: Costa Rica's Path of Demilitarization
90 min · 70 years ago Costa Rica abolished its army and committed itself to fostering a peaceful society. It has been reaping the benefits ever since.
Singapore: Biophilic City
44 min · A whirlwind week in Singapore exploring the amazing story of how Singapore came to be one of the most 'biophilic' cities of the world, on the cutting edge of ecocity design and innovation. Did you have any idea? There has been...
Rundown Apartments Reborn as Food-Forest Coliving Agritopia
55 min · In 2007, Ole and Maitri Ersson bought the rundown Cabana apartment complex in the city and immediately began to de-pave parking spaces to make space for what today is a huge permaculture coliving space and urban food forest. Today, the...
The Hardest Thing I've Ever Loved: Creating a Transformative Culture
36 min · This 36-minute documentary follows the lives of 5 young explorers on their journey through the 5-week Ecovillage Design Education program in Switzerland, which navigates today's challenges as opportunities to build a regenerative future...
Ancient Futures:  Learning From Ladakh
59 min · Ladakh, or 'Little Tibet', is a wildly beautiful desert land high in the Western Himalayas. It is a place of few resources and an extreme climate. Yet for more than 1,000 years, it has been home to a thriving culture. Traditions of...
The Commons: Reclaiming What Is Ours
110 min · The Commons is a documentary film about communities re-asserting sustainable futures using consensus, equity and shared resources – ancient Commons principles. The film shares the increasing privatization and destruction of commons...
The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy
105 min · The global economy is in crisis. The exponential exhaustion of natural resources, declining productivity, slow growth, rising unemployment, and steep inequality, forces us to rethink our economic models. Where do we go from here? In...
The Next American Revolution: Beyond Corporate Capitalism & State Socialism
47 min · While there's been no shortage of commentary about the structural crisis plaguing the American economic and political system, from wage stagnation and chronic unemployment to unchecked corporate and state power and growing inequality...
Prout: Economic Democracy in Practice
30 min · Economics of Prout covers the basic economic principles of Prout, which offers a viable alternative to the materialistic, anti human philosophies of Capitalism and Communism.
What's a Colloquium? An Oral History of the Natural Building Movement
76 min · A small band of natural building enthusiasts and outlaws met in a field over 20 years ago at something they called a ‘colloquium’. The movement they created has grown uncontrollably ever since; reviving and innovating ancient building...
Hackers for Freedom
55 min · "Hackers for Freedom", this 55-minute long documentary takes us to meet with those who, from India to the United States via Europe, are experimenting with the emancipation tools of "free software" in order to bring concrete solutions in...
Regreening the Desert with John D. Liu
48 min · "It's possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems with the use of permaculture design principles and techniques."
Together We Grow
39 min · “This beautiful film is the perfect antidote to the cynical narrative that says people are inherently selfish... This film will melt your heart. Guaranteed.” – Rob Hopkins, author; co-founder Transition Network
We the Power | The Future of Energy is Community-Owned
39 min · A film about the citizen-led community-energy movement in Europe and the visionaries lighting the way. 

 

What films would you add to this list? Let us know.

So far here's what you've recommended:

 

Fantastic Fungi
80 min · This is the film of the century!- Films For ActionWhen so many are struggling for connection, inspiration and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world. Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie...
The Biggest Little Farm
92 min · The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. Through dogged perseverance and embracing the...
The Twelve: A Tale of Wisdom & Unity
75 min · “The Twelve” tells the story of twelve spiritual Elders from around the globe who gather at the United Nations in New York to create a unique ritual for Humankind and planet Earth. By interviewing each one of them in their home...
Renewables Can't Power Capitalism, But They Can Power Ecosocialism
24 min · This is a fantastic video essay. Sit back, relax, and enjoy it like a podcast for some serious knowledge gems.

 

 

PS. What are these bad and good endings we mentioned? Here's a snapshot:

The bad ending: globalized, unfettered capitalism powered by fossil fuels triggers a series of climate change feedback loops that destabilize civilization and lead to 10,000 generations living in a permanently impoverished world, where most of the world's biodiversity went extinct, and humanity's worst impulses were magnified by scarcity, war, disease, and famine.
 

The good ending: humanity takes back control of their governments and enacts measures to prevent the corporate capture of "the people's house" forever, rapidly transitions to 100% renewable energy, and prevents society from descending into "strong man" totalitarian fascism by advancing a raft of democratic socialist programs.

From there, countries around the world transition further towards an ecologically regenerative, cooperative degrowth economy based on the economics of happiness, with thousands of localized variations supported by myriad experiments in direct democracy and local self-governance.

The worst climate change tipping points are averted, and humanity becomes a regenerative, healing presence on the Earth. Measurements for freedom, happiness, health, equality and self-determination across the world are higher than ever thought possible during previous eras.

 

*Note: we could have written the "good ending" in 100 different ways because we don't think there's one good ending. The good endings are infinite. It's up to each of us to present our vision of what that looks like. Work it into being. Refine it. Synthesize it with other great endings. And then we'll see what happens! The future is unwritten, and we can all make a contribution, in collaboration with others. The point is to start locally because that's where changes have a visible impact. It's also the level of scale where we have the most agency to see our efforts bear fruit.


What's Films For Action's vision for a better world?

Our inner fire burns for a world that's based on trust and cooperation rather than fear and competition. 

We believe that the primary nexus of focus for our efforts will come from the transformation of cities - culturally, ecologically, and economically. We envision a future where cities have become not just sustainable, but ecologically regenerative, just and thriving places to live for both humans and the rest of nature. What is inspiring to us is knowing that the solutions necessary to make this happen already exist. Whether in Lawrence, Kansas, where Films For Action got started; in Curitiba, Brazil; or in Samso, Sweden - transformational solutions already exist. They are in development all over the world, by millions of people and thousands of organizations.

This movement has no name - no "ism" to tie us all together. There is no single manifesto that articulates our vision in a single language. In its place, we have a thousand different ways of articulating this vision, spoken in the words of every language. However, the vision we share of a better future is common. We just need to connect the dots.

We support the Defend the Sacred manifesto and the Economics of Happiness. We support the 10 principles of Radical Ecological Democracy. We support the Earth Charter, the Next System Project, the Leap ManifestoTransition TownsThe Zeitgeist Movement, Bioneers, Ecocities, the philosophy behind permaculture, solarpunk, non-violent communication, localization and many more like-minded expressions of what we believe represents a common-shared vision of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

This idea that "I am because you are" - that "your happiness is my happiness" - this is the guiding principle of love, of Ubuntu that is what keeps our feet moving and our hearts in action. We are all one human family in relationship with each other and the rest of the community of life on Earth. We seek power with, not power over.

We celebrate the diversity of peaceful cultures that exist across the globe while recognizing our underlying unity. We stand against the homogenization of the world in all its various forms - this toxic belief in the 'one right way,' which has been responsible for all of the colonialism, conquest, and subjugation we have seen in the past.

We believe that the old way should not be replaced with a new best way (which would be a repeat of the old way) - but rather 10,000 new and ancient ways of living. There is no one solution to the world's problems. There are 10,000 solutions, 10,000 ways of life - and we need them all.

But do you know what we need most of all? We need you. We need people who have come alive, people who are pursuing their passions and sharing their gifts, people who are dreaming of a better world and putting their dreams into action.

They say many hands make light work, and we need all of us to help grow our 'movement of movements' in whatever way feels right for each other. We need both a diversity of tactics and a diversity of efforts. We need people challenging the old and building the new, in all the different ways this is possible. The more we can see this and support each other and see how our efforts complement each other, the stronger we'll be.

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