Environment Trends & Culture - October 6th, 2009

by Danielle Rippingale

The 22nd annual Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is just a couple of weeks away (October 17–25), and this year’s theme, ‘Action for Earth,’ expands on last year’s ‘Ecology’ theme. Films have great power to engage and raise public awareness about the state of our environment and the importance of preservation of our natural resources.

Green initiatives by TIFF saw last year’s guests welcomed with a green carpet (instead of the traditional red), all films screened using ‘green’ power, and various initiatives were launched, such as the ‘natural TIFF’ category, which featured films with the theme ‘coexistence of nature and human beings.’

Featuring 300 films screened over nine days, the festival will open with the world premiere of Jacques Perrin’s Oceans, the cinematography of which penetrates the mysterious and fascinating marine world like never before. The event closes with Disney/Pixar’s wonderful 3D-animation film Up. As a general rule, all of the films will be shown with English and/or Japanese subtitles. Venues include Roppongi Hills and theaters, halls, and other facilities in the Tokyo metropolitan area. For more information visit

If you’ve seen Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and want to see more thought-provoking eco-films, check out these standouts, including freely distributed documentaries from Mofilms (


An award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st century―the world water crisis.

Return to the Wild:

Set in the northern Rockies, this documentary seeks to address the issue of how man and predator can co-exist, in the hope of finding a balanced solution that addresses the needs of ranchers, wildlife supporters, hunters, and most importantly, the wolves themselves. View and download for free at

Ice People:

This film takes you on a journey to one of the earth’s most seductive continents―Antarctica, and conveys the vast beauty, the claustrophobia, the excitement, and the stillness of an experience set to nature’s rhythm.

Freedom Fuels:

Another short film from Mofilms that gives an in-depth look at renewable fuel sources, such as bio-diesel, ethanol, and vegetable oil. It explores the interaction of the petroleum industry and alternative fuels over the last 150 years, and examines the global impact that bio-fuels can have on our future. Download for free at

Up The Yangtze:

This documentary gives a moving account of the young people and families whose lives are affected by the construction of the colossal hydroelectric Three Gorges Dam in China. Incorporating rare live footage, “this is The Love Boat meets Apocalypse Now,” says Director Yung Chang.

Justicia Now!:

This is a documentary about Chevron Texaco’s toxic legacy in the Northern Ecuadorian region of the Amazon rainforest, and a courageous group of people called Los Afectados (the affected ones) who are seeking justice for the ensuing cancer, sickness, and death in the largest environmental class action lawsuit in history. 

The film also includes appearances by Daryl Hannah and Stuart Townsend. Download this 31-minute film for free by visiting

Who Killed the Electric Car?:

This movie chronicles the life and mysterious death of General Motors’ electric EV-1, examining the cultural and economic ripple effects caused by its conception, and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

Everything’s Cool:

In a time of disinformation, global warming messengers spread the message about the gap between scientific understanding and political action.

The Cove:

Although initially rejected by TIFF, this 2009 award-winning documentary was reconsidered and will be screened at the festival. The film uncovers how the fishermen of Taiji, Japan, driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in an unseen hunt.

Green Glossary

Global citizenship is the concept of citizenship that embraces the moral and ethical principles that respect the rights of all global citizens, regardless of race, religion, or creed, and refrain from action that hinders individual well-being and degrades the environment.

Photo credit:
Photo courtesy of the 2009 Tokyo International Film Festival