Humanity is at a crossroads when it comes to water. More severe droughts and floods as well as growing demands on our water supply are forcing us to rethink how we manage this vital resource. Much of this soul searching has been spawned by thoughtful documentaries like those listed below. As Rachel’s Network champions solutions to water challenges in Milwaukee for our Fall Retreat, watch these great films and get inspired to act.


Mission Blue

Called “Her Deepness” by The New Yorker and The New York Times, and a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Rachel’s Network Advisor Sylvia Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer. She has led more than 60 expeditions and logged more than 6,000 hours underwater.

In 2009 Earle was awarded the TED Prize and granted a wish to improve the world. Earle’s wish was to convene an extraordinary gathering of scientists, philanthropists and conservationists for a TED conference at sea in the Galapagos called “Mission Blue.” Her hope was to raise awareness of the need to protect the world’s oceans, our life support system, from ourselves. The film highlights Earle’s life’s work and follows the increasingly urgent international effort to build awareness about the state of our oceans.



This film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. We see massive floating abalone farms off China’s Fujian coast and the construction site of the biggest arch dam in the world – the Xiluodu, six times the size of the Hoover. We visit the barren desert delta where the mighty Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean, and the water-intensive leather tanneries of Dhaka. The viewer is immersed in a world defined by a magnificent force of nature that we all too often take for granted- until it’s gone.


Shored Up

When Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast, it was a wake-up call to a new reality for coastal communities. People have always flocked to the seashore, but as global warming and more extreme weather events become the new reality, coastal cities will have to adapt to an increasingly volatile paradigm. We travel to the heart of this climate change controversy– communities in New Jersey and North Carolina where politics, economics and science collide.



This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds. DamNation’s majestic cinematography moves through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.


Last Call at the Oasis

The global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century. We can manage this problem, but only if we are willing to act now. Last Call at the Oasis is a powerful documentary that shatters myths behind our most precious resource. This film exposes defects in the current system, shows communities already struggling with its ill-effects and highlights individuals championing revolutionary solutions during the global water crisis.



Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car? and I.O.U.S.A., this timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of the bottled water industry — an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water.


Blue Planet

More is known about the surface of the moon than the deep oceans on Earth, yet the sea constitutes two thirds of our planet. Chronicling the mysteries of the deep, coastline populations, sea mammals, tidal and climatic influences and the complete biological system that revolves around the world’s oceans, The Blue Planet is the definitive exploration of the marine world.


Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Blue Gold follows people around the world as they fight for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war”. A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Will we survive?


Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Within months of that first trip to Iceland, the photographer conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey. With a band of young adventurers in tow, Balog began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers.


A Thirsty World (La soif du monde)

Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s film focuses on one of the major challenges to human survival: water. Today, as the world’s population increases and the impact of climate change worsens, water has become one of our planet’s most precious natural resources. Filmed in 20 countries, A Thirsty World reveals the mysterious and fascinating world of fresh water through spectacular aerial images shot in regions that are difficult to reach and rarely filmed


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