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Sustainability Films for the Social Sciences: Policy

A list of films exploring various aspects of sustainability of interest to social scientists. All films are held by Woodruff Library, Emory University. Reflects holdings through April 2010.

Sustainability Policy

Films that address politics and policies governing environmental practices

Policy Sub-Categories

  • Air
  • Chemicals
  • Climate Change
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Land Management
  • Nuclear Waste
  • Urban Planning
  • Water

Sustainability Films

Who Killed the Electric Car?


Indigenous People Address


UN Climate Change Conference

Policy Films



Living world (The) [videorecording] : environment and development / a film by Dola Bonfils ; director, Dola Bonfils ; producer, Lise Lense-Møller ; script and research, Dola Bonfils, Knud Vilby ; produced by Magic Hour Films APS in co-production with Centre for Science and Environment ... [et al.]. [2005]

Summary: Anil Agarwal from India and Knud Vilby from Denmark discuss air pollution. Anil Agarwal points out a World Bank report which gives the horrifying fact that 7500 people die every year because of air pollution. Shows how the Centre For Science and Environment in New Delhi is working on its campaign against air pollution. Also focuses on the views of international policy makers--do they stress ecology or only economy?



Smog Inc. a Centre for Science and Environment production]. Centre for Science and Environment, [2005] 

Summary: While India chases the American dream of a car for everyone, it is paying with its health. Cities across the country are choking from vehicle exhaust, and are unwilling to pay for emission controls or invest in programs to curtail pollution. This short video takes an incisive look at the science and politics of vehicular pollution in India.

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Pesticides and pills: for export only/ reported by Robert Richter; produced by Robert Richter; writer/reporter, Robert Richter; a production of Robert Richter and the Televisision Laboratory at WNET Thirteen. Richter Productions 1981.

Summary: Documents the fact that large chemical and pharmaceutical companies sell to underdeveloped countries pesticides and pills banned from use in the United States and Europe.



Future conditional [videorecording] / producer,Marilyn Weiner ; director-writer, Hal Weiner; Screenscope production in association with South Carolina ETV. Screenscope, [2005]

Summary: Investigates the link between environmental change and the future health of the planet, a future conditional on how we cope with the spread of toxic pollution. In the Arctic, animals and humans are suddenly plagued with rising levels of hazardous chemicals: DDT, PCBs, dioxins, and mercury. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, tariff-free factories have been poisoning the soil and air for more than a decade, and local communities in Tijuana struggle with contaminated water while their backyards have become toxic playgrounds for children.In Uzbekistan, the world's fourth largest inland body of water, the Aral Sea, has become the site of what the United Nations calls man's greatest ecological disaster. In the United States, a Latin neighborhood in San Diego celebrates an environmental victory, while only 150 miles away, the people of Palm Springs may be living in the path of a toxic storm of dust.

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Breathing easy [videorecording] : what home buyers and sellers should know about radon / United States Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Environments Division, Office of Air and Radiation.[2005?]

Summary: This DVD covers the basics, including radon science, the lung cancer risk, home inspection, building a new home radon-resistant, testing and fixing a home, disclosure, state radon offices, hotline and web resources, and key radon numbers, e.g., EPA's action level and the U.S. indoor and outdoor averages. The primary audiences are home buyers and sellers, and real estate sales agents and brokers. Home inspectors, mortgage lenders, other real estate practitioners, and radon services providers will also find the video helpful.



Trade secrets [videorecording] : a Moyers report produced by Sherry Jones ; written by Bill Moyers and Sherry Jones ; producer, Jackson Frost ; directed by Joseph Camp ; a production of Public Affair Television, Inc. in association with Washington Media Associates, Inc. 2001 television program

Summary: This documentary exposes the 40 year history of the American chemical industry's supression of information regarding the threats to public health by synthetic chemicals being introduced into the environment at all levels. Addresses the danger to public health by the continued use of approximately 9000 of the 15,000 mass produced chemical substances that have never undergone toxicological study in the United States. Followed by a panel discussion moderated by Moyers including industry spokesmen and both environmental and medical experts.

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 Le monde selon Monsanto [videorecording] / Arte France, Image & compagnie en co-production avec Productions Thalie, L'office national du Film du Canada et de la WDR ; un film de Marie-Monique Robin ; documentaliste, Anne Gelli ; produit par Amélie Juan.. [et al.].Arte vidéo, [2008]

Summary: Monsanto Company is the world's leader in agricultura chemicals, seed and genetically modified crops well as being one of the most controversial companies in industrial history. This film uses hitherto unpublished documents and testimonies of victims, scientists and politicians to expose Monsanto's lack of care in protecting the environment and the health of those exposed to their products. Shows how the company promoted such products as Roundup (glyphosate), bovine growth hormone, and genetically modified plants.

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More men in black / Doordarshan presents ; PSBT Public Service Broadcasting Trust ; direction, Sudheer Gupta ; produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust for and in partnership with Prasar Bharti Corporation. 2005.

Summary: Documentary film about the struggle of 10,000 migrant oil-reclaimers, many from Allahabad, working to clean and recycle toxic black-oil from the drains of industrial Delhi.

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Poisoned dream (The), May 19, 1980 [videorecording] director, Kevin W. Matthews ; written by Melynda Jarratt, Kevin W. Matthews producer, Tom Perlmutter ; produced by Barna-Alper Productions Inc. and Connections Productions Resources Inc.[2003]

Summary: Activists, Lois Gibbs, Barbara Quimby and Patti Grenzy, and research scientist Dr. Beverly Paigen, discuss their four-year political battle to have their community evacuated.

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Climate Change


Heat [videorecording] / produced and reported by Martin Smith ; written by Martin Smith ; a Frontline co-production with RAINmedia, Inc. ; a production of WGBH Boston.[2008]

Summary: Under pressure from governments, green groups, and investors, big businesses, such as the oil and coal companies, electric utilities, and automobile manufacturers, are promising to reshape their approach to the environment, climate change, and carbon emissions. Shows how some corporations around the world are fighting to fend off new regulations while others are repositioning themselves to meet these challenges. Visits the melting glaciers of the Himalayas, Chinese coal companies, Indian SUV makers, and American oil giants, among other locations.

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Inconvenient truth (An) [videorecording] / Paramount Classics and Participant Productions present ; directed by Davis Guggenheim ; produced by Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns.Paramount, c2006

Summary: Former Vice President Al Gore explains the facts of global warming, presents arguments that the dangers of global warning have reached the level of crisis, and addresses the efforts of certain interests to discredit the anti-global warming cause. Between lecture segments, Gore discusses his personal commitment to the environment, sharing anecdotes from his experiences.

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Who killed the electric car? [videorecording]/Electric Entertainment, a Chris Paine Fil; written and directed by Chris Paine; produced by Jessie Deeter. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2006

Summary: Investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future


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Oil on Ice [videorecording]/a Dale Djerassi/bo Boudart Production; porduced and directed by Dale Djerassi and boBoudart; writer Stephen Most.
Oil and Ice Partners; [Oley, PA:Bullfrog Films [distributor], 2004

Summary: A documentary connecting the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to decisions America makes about energy policy, transportation choices, and other seemingly unrelated matters. Caught in the balance are the culture and livelihood of the Gwich'in people and the migratory wildlife in this fragile ecosystem. Discusses the conflict between the oil industry and environmentalists over the future of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.





Hungry for profit. Part I and II, [videorecording]/from Richter Productions and the Television Laboratory of WNET/Thirteen, Robert Richter Productions, 1984.

Summary: A documentary showing how agribusiness has created large, mechanized plantations oud of small, peasant farms which grow profiatble export crops despite local food needs. Tells how this situations actually increases the amount of hunger for some in the Third World

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Future of food (The) [videorecording]/Lily Films presents; directed, produced and written by Deborah Koons Garcia; produced by Catherine Lynn Butler.

Summary: Documents the trend of unlabeled genetically-modified foods which have become increasingly prevalent in grocery stores. Unravels the complex web of market and political forces that are changing the nature of what we eat. Explores organic and sustainable agriculture as alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture.



Land Management


Bandits & backhanders [videorecording] / narration writer, Pratap Pandey ; produced & directed by Pradip Saha ; a United Nations Environment Programme/WWF Films production made in association with TVE..[200

Summary: Explores some of the ways corruption is systematically destroying India's environment. When there is large scale corruption in the nature management sector,people lose respect for nature over a long time. Takes viewers to look at irrational policies (not based on
scientific understanding, but on vested interests) in management of rivers, floods, forests, and urban planning; and demonstrates the results of such distorted practices.

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Nuclear Waste

Arid lands [videorecording] / Bullfrog Films presents ; Sidelong films ; produced and directed by Grant Aaker and Josh Wallaert ; story by Josh Wallaert.[2007]
Summary: A documentary about the land and people of the Columbia Basin in southeastern Washington state. Plutonium produced at the Hanford nuclear site was used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The Hanford nuclear site is currently the focus of a large
environmental cleanup.     



Subsidies and the Environment [videorecording]; a televised dialogue/produced by the electronic Media Center, the World Bank. world Bank 1997.

Summary: A panel discussion on improving the environemnt through reducing subsidies.


Urban Planning


Collision course [videorecording] / producer[s] Indira Mansingh, Luciana Burlamaqui ; directors, Rajiv Rai, Daniel A. Rubio ; produced by TVE. Bullfrog Films, c2008.

Summary: Examines road traffic accidents as a public health issue, focusing especially on efforts by political activist Harman Sidhu to improve road safety measures in his native India and Brazil.

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Flow [videorecording] : for love of water / a Steven Starr production in association with the Group  Entertainment ; directed by Irena Salina ; Water Group.Oscilloscope Pictures, c2008.

Summary: "Builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis ... begging the question: Can anyone really own water?"--Container.

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After the storm [videorecording] / co-produced by EPA and the Weather Channel. Washington, DC : U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, [2006]       

Subject: Water quality management--United States--Handbooks, manuals, etc.--Interactive multimedia.

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Trembling waters[videorecording]/a film by Gener Bernofsky and Paul b. harte; a production of world wide film Expedition. Video Project. 1999.

Summary: documents the grandeur and serenity of the Okefenokee national wildlife Refuge and its flora and fauna. it presents the feelings, judgements and actions of viors, neighbors and long time environmental activists to its possible demise by the hands of the DuPont co., who hoe to develop a titanium mine scheduled to be built for 30 miles next to the park.



Tapped [videorecording]/Atlas Films presents; executive producers, Michael Walrath, Michelle Walrath; produced by Sarah G, Gibson, Stephanie Soechtig. Bullfrog films, 2010.

Summary: "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? Stephanie Soechtig's debut feature is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water... From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table. A powerful portrait of the lives affected by the bottled water industry, this revelatory film features those caught at the intersection of big business and the public's right to water"--Film website.



Water, the drop of life. Part 6, The endless search [videorecording] / a Swynk production in coproduction with NOB Broadcasting Service Corporation ... [et al.]; series director, Peter Swanson ; series producer, Joost van Loon ; writers, Bob Field, Katherine Duetch Tatlock.

Summary: Discusses how improved water management, water conservation campaigns, and revolutionary techniques of water use can lessen the consequences of scarcity, and how technical innovations that create a stable production of fresh water out of sea water, brackishwater, and even waste water are needed. Visits th Johnson Space Flight Center which is developing new technologies that may one day help us preserve water both in space and on Earth. Discusses reverse osmosis, a promising method for reducing the cost of
desalination. Examines how the Japanese harvest many varieties of seaweed, and how farmers along the coast of Europe and North America may farm native sea vegetables on a larger scale in the future.
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Water, the drop of life. Part 5, Water, war and peace [videorecording] / a Swynk production in coproduction
with NOB Broadcasting Service Corporation ... [et al.]                 

Summary: Discusses why three immense river systems like the Nile in Egypt, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya in Central
Asia were dammed. Explores the role that water plays in world crises, wars, and peace negotiations in the past, present, and future.

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Water, the drop of life. Part 4, A price to pay [videorecording] / a Swynk production in coproduction
with NOB Broadcasting Service Corporation ... [et al.]                     

Summary: Examines how the nature and politics of water transportation impact a growing number of people and enterprises around the world who depend on reliable water delivery. Visits the Massai in the Rift Valley in Africa where the ritual of water transportation is
at the very core of life, and Santiago, Chile where an increase in water prices will help fund the decontamination of local rivers. Discusses the controversial issue of water pricing in diverse communities throughout the world, the prices charged by traditional water bearers in a bustling enclave in India, and the transition from governmental control of water to privatization in Great Britain.
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Arsenic [videorecording] : treatment technology showcase / produced by United States Environmental Protection Agency.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, [2006]

Summary: An introduction to treating drinking water for arsenic.

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Cherrapunji : rain, rain everywhere but not a drop to drink / Doordarshan presents ; Public Service Broadcasting Trust ; director, Madhumita Chakraborty. Public Service Broadcasting Trust, [2004]

Summary: Documentary looks into the paradox of drinking water scarcity in Cherrapunji, known as one of the wettest places on earth.

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 Fresh waters flowing [videorecording] / Video Project presents ; directed, written and edited by Alan Honick; produced by Alan Honick and Katherine Michaels Video Project, [2002]

Summary: Demonstrates the importance of a stream's biological integrity, and shows how measuring biological integrity can be a powerful tool for maintaining and restoring the health of watersheds.

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Tap into prevention [videorecording] : drinking water information for health care providers / written by John Balbus, Vince Clews, and Sherri Umansky. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water,  [2004]

Summary: Discusses water treatment methods (coagulation, filtration, disinfection), sources of chemical and microbiological contamination, and ways sensitive populations can ensure safe drinking water. Includes case studies of Cryptosporidium contamination, lead in school drinking water, and nitrates and E. coli in rural wells..

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The water front [videorecording] / Red Lizard Media presents a film by Liz Miller ; director, producer ...Liz Miller.
Bullfrog Films, [2008]

Summary: "What if you lived by the largest body of fresh water n the world but could no longer afford to use it? Residents of Highland Park, Michigan, known as the birthplace of the auto industry, have received water bills as high as $10,000; they have had their water
turned off and are struggling to keep water, a basic human right, from becoming privatized. The Water Front
is the story of an American city in crisis, but it is not just about water. The story touches on the very essence of our democratic system and is an unnerving indication of what is in store for residents around the world facing their own water struggles"--Container.

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