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Weather Alert: Hurricane Watch Documentaries

Documentaries to Watch Before, During or in the Wake of a Hurricane


Hurricanes and other severe weather events seem to be striking with increasing frequency. They always put us into a state of suspended animation, with civic services cut to a minimum, stores closed and people retreating to their shuttered homes or evacuated to safehaven shelters.

Wherever you weather the storm, you'll want to prepare by provisioning -- food stuffs, fresh water and a generator or a lot of battery power.

Listen closely to news and weather reports, then make a list of essentials and stock up.

And, while you're at it, include some weather watch documentaries.

No, they're not essential, but they will give you a new perspective about the weather disturbances and what causes them, and you may pick up some interesting tips about what you can to to prevent, prepare for and recover from the storm that's heading your way.

Here, in alphabetical order, are my suggestions (and please feel free to leave comments with your suggestions, too):

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Paramount Classics
An Inconvenient Truth is basically a concert film, the genre that documents a performance. But, instead of seeing a rock star or stand up comedian belting music or one liners, we meet Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States. Mr. Gore is presenting the slide show in which he delivers the down and dirty about global warming--the most pressing environmental issue of our time. Of course, global warming impacts weather, so this film is a must see for weather weather watchers.

Arctic Tale (2007)

Fox Searchlight
Arctic Tale uses authentic footage of arctic wildlife -- of a walrus pup and polar bear cub, to be specific -- to give us intimate close up views of how global warming is disrupting the breeding, feeding and migration cycle of artic animals and endangering their species. With two lovable critters leading the way, the film swims directly and deeply into disturbing environmental issues-- like global warming and pollution and, most especially, the shrinking arctic ice.
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The Axe in The Attic (2007)

Courtesy 'The Axe In The Attic'
The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina caused the largest internal migration in American history, as people fled the floods that washed away entire neighborhoods in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Lives were entirely uprooted. Katrina victims became refugees in their own country, scattered across the United States, relying on family, friends and the kindness of strangers to make temporary homes for themselves and their loved ones. Many families have still not been reunited. The Axe in The Attic is a compelling investigation of the American Diaspora, a civic and social disaster that must not be repeated.

Colony (2009)

Beekeepers haul their wooden bee hive boxes across the US, providing an essential service to farmers who rely on honey bees to pollinate their crops. However their enterprise is now threatened by a mysterious phenomenon called 'bee colony collapse disorder,' marked by the death and disappearance of millions of bees. Nobody has identified the cause, but it may well be weather related. Bottom line: no more bees, no more pollination, and a serious threat to food production around the globe.

Dive! Living Off America's Waste (2009)

First Run Features
America processes more food than can be consumed by regular grocery store managers, which results in a huge amoung of wasted nutrition. Filmmaker Jeremy Seifert, who feeds his own family by 'dumpster diving,' shows us how to retrieve completely good, still fresh, still packaged meat and produce from disposal bins outside of the stores that have just dumped foodstuffs with expired sell-by dates. You, too, can stock up!

Earth Days (2009)

The American Experience/Zeitgeist
Exploring the reasons behind the establishment of 'Earth Days' and defining its mission, filmmaker Robert Stone interviews a special tribe of environmental movement elders -- Stuart Udall, Denis Hayes, Paul Ehrlich, Pete McCloskey and Rusty Schweickart among other activists, politicians and forecasters -- who give testimony about advances made by conservationists during the 1960s and 70s, and then lead us to an understanding of what happened to bring us to our current situation -- on the brink of environmental disaster. Yes, the number of weather disturbances is increasing.

The Eleventh Hour (2007)

Warner Independent Pictures
Actor and filmmaker Leonardo DiCaprio takes us on a tour of weather-related environmental catastrophies, showing how drought, famine, flooding, hurricanes, acid rain and the highest average temperatures in history are clues to humanity’s future--and possible demise--on this fragile planet we call home.

FlOW: For Love of Water (2008)

Oscilloscope Pictures
From the documentary’s opening moments, director Irena Salinas engages us with a beautifully photographed montage of babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, melting icebergs and surfer-worthy ocean waves. Over the refreshing images and soothing audio, the title FLOW quickly appears on the screen, followed by its expanded version For Love Of Water. We are then reminded that water is essential for human life and well-being, and we are informed that millions of people--babies, in particular--die from lack of fresh water every year. Fresh water is in short supply, and companies like Nestle, Vivendi, Thames, Suez, Coca Cola and Pepsi are quickly privatizing what there is of it.

Into Eternity (2010)

The scenario doesn't have to do with nuclear warfare bringing civilization to an end in a nuclear inferno. It's about the disposal of everyday nuclear waste, the kind that comes from fueling nuclear power plants, and nuclear submarines and that sort of thing. Plus disposal of nuclear material from armaments that have been decommissioned in an attempt to prevent the advent of a nuclear inferno. The question is: will it work?

The Island President (2011)

Samuel Goldwyn Pictures
The island nation of the Maldives -- an archipelego of 1200 islands situated off the coast of Southern India -- is at risk of drowning if our planet's oceans continue to rise as a result of climate change. That is an eventuality that Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives and the character referred to in the title of The Island President, is determined to prevent. This documentary chronicles his efforts.

Surviving Progress (2012)

First Run Features
Surviving Progress is a very convincing thesis documentary that questions whether humankind's tecnological advances -- and they are coming more and more rapidly -- are, indeed, progress, or are they 'progress traps' that can lead to the demise of the species. The film, based on Ronald Wright's insightful nonfiction book, A Short History of Progress, presents convincing arguments that technology if not used appropriately and in moderation can lead to adverse conditions and the collapse of civilization -- if not the actual demise of humankind. The discussion is timely and vital.

Water Wars: When Drought, Flood and Greed Collide (2009)

Film For Thought/Cinema Libre
According to a recent World Bank study, the demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent within twenty years. By presenting an overview of recent flooding, drought, and other water-related disasters in Bangladesh, India and New Orleans, director Jim Burrough's Water Wars: When Drought, Flood and Greed Collide presents a prescient look into the future of fresh water access and control, which many believe will be the cause for World War III.

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