The Four Excellent Environmental Films That Got Oscar Nods The Four Excellent Environmental Films That Got Oscar Nods

The Four Excellent Environmental Films That Got Oscar Nods

by Ben Jervey

January 31, 2011

As I'm sure you're well aware, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have just released their Oscar nominations. I was a bit startled—happily so—to see that an impressive 40 percent of documentaries nominated for the Academy Awards are somehow environmentally-themed.


In the world's largest garbage dump, on the outskirts of Rio de Janiero, a community of catadores, or "scavengers," spend their lives picking through the refuse for recyclable, reusable, and even edible materials. WASTE LAND follows artist Vik Muniz from Brooklyn back to his native Brazil, where he connects with the trash-pickers, helping them create striking, vivid images of themselves out of garbage that he then photographs. (Muniz gives all the money raised from the sale of the portraits to the subjects.) The images, according to the filmmakers, show "both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives."

Again, all of these films are poignant, challenging, and wonderfully rewarding to watch. What's more, I've heard from friends who work in the "industry," and everyone is saying that this year was a really strong one for documentaries, which makes this accomplishment all the more impressive. Huge congrats to all of the nominees. I, for one, will be watching the Oscars this year for the first time in probably a decade.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
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The Four Excellent Environmental Films That Got Oscar Nods