12 Movies To Inspire Action & Change

What Movies Motivate You? These Films Are All About Standing Up For What You Believe In

Now that summer is official, it’s time for some movie suggestions. Watching movies can be a great way to get inspired or educate yourself on a new topic.

This list includes a mix of drama and documentaries about water, pollution, strong women, and the beauty of our planet. These are some of my favorite movies from the last few years. Pop yourself some organic popcorn and invite a friend or two over if you like!

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet (2020)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Celebrated naturalist David Attenborough reflects upon the defining moments of his lifetime and the devastating changes he has seen. The film addresses some of the biggest challenges on our planet, providing a snapshot of global nature loss in a single lifetime. It offers a powerful message of hope for future generations as Attenborough reveals the solutions to help save our planet from disaster.

There’s Something in The Water (2019)

This documentary follows Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures. The film takes its name from Ingrid Waldron’s book on environmental racism, There's Something in the Water.

You can listen to a conversation I had with Emmy-nominated actor/director Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page) and Ingrid Waldron about the film here.

Where to Watch: Netflix, Apple TV

Dark Waters (2019)

A legal thriller starring Mark Ruffalo, who plays an attorney risking his career and family to uncover a dark secret hidden by one of the world’s largest corporations and to bring justice to a community dangerously exposed for decades to deadly forever chemicals. The film is based on Robert Bilott’s real-life case against the chemical manufacturer DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. 

You can listen to me talk with Rob here or read his book, Exposure.

Where to Watch: Amazon

The Devil We Know (2018)

Dark Waters is the Hollywood version of this story. In this investigative documentary, directed by Stephanie Soechtig, you meet the residents of Parkersburg, West Virginia, where the DuPont facility that manufactured Teflon was located, and follows the personal stories and health issues of several people who worked at the facility.

Where to Watch: Amazon

Radium Girls (2018)

A drama based on a true story about a group of factory workers in the 1920s, who advocate for safer work conditions after some of their colleagues become ill from radium exposure.

After the movie, you can watch this conversation I moderated on "forever chemicals" and the film with executive producer Lily Tomlin, producer/co-director Lydia Dean Pilcher, Brenda Hampton of Concerned Citizens of North Alabama, Kiya Leake of Women’s Earth Alliance, and Sierra Club's Sonya Lunder.

Where to Watch: Netflix

The Bleeding Edge (2018)

The U.S. has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet medical interventions have become the third leading cause of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. This groundbreaking investigation into the world of medical devices is from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (2013)

A profile of Anita Hill, the law professor who challenged Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and thus exposed the problem of sexual harassment to the world. Academy Award winner Freida Mock crystallizes the sexist power dynamics in the room that day and unravels the impact of that lightning-rod moment in Anita Hill's life and the broader discussion of gender inequality in America.

Where to Watch: Amazon

Last Call At The Oasis (2011)

Academy Award winning director Jessica Yu’s documentary looks at the growing global water crisis, from the drying up of Lake Mead to the fight to keep herbicides from tainting drinking water. So much in this film is still relevant today.

Where to Watch: Amazon

Tapped (2009)

A documentary, directed by Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey, that takes a deep dive into the bottled water industry and its long-term effects socially, economically and ecologically. The filmmakers focus on industry giants such as PepsiCo and Nestlé Waters, visiting a town containing a Nestlé factory as well as running tests on the bottles the company uses for its products.

Where to Watch: YouTube (here)

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2008)

Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil, as the source of human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. This award-winning documentary directed by Sam Bozzo is based on the book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke.

Where to Watch: Amazon

North Country (2005)

A drama starring Charlize Theron inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company. It was the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.

Where to Watch: Amazon

Whale Rider (2002)

Based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana, a 12-year-old Māori girl whose ambition is to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather Koro Apirana believes that this is a role reserved for males only.

Where to Watch: Amazon

Have you seen any of these movies? Want to add one to the list? Share your ideas in the comments below.