Enclave SDG 17 films to understand the SDGs and awaken ecological and social awareness

  • By:jobsplan



17 films to understand the SDGs and raise ecological and social awarenessNetflix Promotional image

News Cinema SDGs

A review of some of the most emblematic titles in the history of cinema: from recent releases like Don't look up to classics like The Boy by Charles Chaplin or Umberto D. by Vittorio De Sica.

27 January, 202202:54
David G. Maciejewski@dgmaciejewski

Cinema, being an audiovisual art, is the most effective channel to transmit ideas and feelings. It can also become a powerful promoter of social complaints. On other occasions, especially through tragedy, it can awaken individual and collective consciousness. Some authors, aware of their influence on the masses, have been able to capitalize on the cinematographic potential with the aim of turning their films into vehicles of social transformation.

Because cinema is, above all, an art capable of changing the world. Directly or indirectly, it has influenced human lives since the Lumière brothers first projected an image on that legendary Capuchin Boulevard in 1895. And throughout its different stages, genres and topics, the Seventh Art has dealt with all the topics that one can imagine, among them the 17 Sustainable Development Goals on which ENCLAVE ODS has an impact time and time again.

Fritz Lang may have had no idea of ​​sustainability when he filmed Metropolis back in the twenties, but that did not prevent his film from becoming an icon of modernity that today, thanks to its visionary and innovative spirit, reminds us of the importance of SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure). Vittorio De Sica probably did conceive of his Umberto D. as a plea against poverty, and that is why today it is easily associated with SDG 1 (End Poverty). Without going any further, the recently released Don't Look Up by Adam McKay for Netflix, although it is shot as an allegorical satire, is clearly aligned with the spirit of SDG 13 (Climate Action).

These are just some of the examples of notable films that we can associate with the SDGs. The titles are many, perhaps too many to collect in a single list. That is why this selection falls short: it is only an infinitesimal part of a vast cinematographic world that we can use as an element of ecological, social, economic, industrial and even political awareness.

SDG 1: Umberto D. (1952)

Vittorio De Sica conceived Umberto D. as a critique of the devastating consequences that fascism and the Second World War had on Italian society. It is one of the films that best portrays the need to put an end to poverty: the story of a mistreated helpless old man who, together with his small dog, lives badly in the dirty and indifferent streets of a post-war Italy that has left his most vulnerable citizens.

Carlo Battisti in a scene from 'Umberto D.', by Vittorio de SicaRizzoli Film Still from the film

SDG 2: The Boy (1920)

A film that is over a hundred years old but is still very current. Charles Chaplin is one of the few filmmakers to transcend the barriers of time, and his influence on popular culture never wanes. It is difficult for someone not to have heard of him. With El Chico, a story in which the director recalled his own childhood, full of poverty, misery and hunger, he reflects on the importance of having a committed society that ends hunger in the world.

Charles Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in a scene from 'The Kid', by Charles ChaplinFirst National Picture / A Contra Corriente Film frame

SDG 3: The Father (2020)

The Father, one of the most recognized and award-winning films of 2020, emphasizes the importance of taking care of the health of others but, above all, reflects on how fundamental it is to understand the problems of others –in this case, senile dementia– to raise awareness and empathize with those who suffer from all kinds of diseases. Health and wellness are essential to prosperity.

Anthony Hopkins in a scene from 'El Padre', by Florian ZellerA Contracorriente Films Promotional image

SDG 4: Madadayo (1993)

The latest film signed by the teacher Akira Kurosawa is an impeccable reflection on the influence that a teacher can have in the lives of his students. With well-trained, charismatic and influential teachers who not only explain the subjects to their students but also motivate them day by day with their passion, a stronger society is achieved, prepared to navigate the labyrinth of labor and human relations. For this, access to a decent and quality education is essential. In Madadayo, the students go out of their way to take care of the old retired teacher who made them better people and succeed in life.

Scene from 'Madadayo', by Akira Kurosawa, with several of its leading charactersKurosawa Production Co. / Dentsu Inc / Tokuma Shoten / Daiei Eiga Film still

SDG 5: In the land of men (2005)

A feminist drama inspired by true events about the life of Josey Aimes, an abused and single woman who returns to the small Minnesota town where she was born. There she decides to earn a living working in the iron mines, an environment led by a strong male presence. Aimes decides to raise her voice on the machismo that surrounds her and starts a revolution of women workers to achieve the necessary gender equality and labor rights.

Charlie Theron in a scene from 'Land of Men', by Niki CaroWarner Bros. / Participant Media Frame from the film

SDG 6: Dark Waters (2019)

Another film inspired by real events that tells the story of lawyer Rob Tillot, a man who put the American chemical giant DuPont in front of the ropes, which was dumping perfluorooctanoic acid, a dangerous toxic waste, in Dry Run, a landfill near an area inhabited rural area near your company. The liquid effluent from the dumped waste reached the population and caused dozens of intoxications, some of them fatal. Dark waters recalls the importance of a system of access to clean and healthy water.

Mark Ruffalo in a scene from 'Dark Waters,' by Todd HaynesKiller Films / Participant Media / Focus Features Promotional Image

SDG 7: Chernobyl (2019)

Although it is a television miniseries, its format is intended to be consumed as a five-hour movie. The series explores the devastating consequences that Chernobyl had both for the local population and for the nearby countries over which the toxic cloud spread. Filmmaker Craig Mazin reminds us, once again, that nuclear energy, despite being infinitely better than fossil fuels or gas, carries certain dangers that could be devastating for humanity. That is why he urges promoting and financing sustainable and non-polluting energies.

Image from the HBO miniseries 'Chernobyl', created by Craig MazinHBO Promotional Image

SDG 8: Blue Collar (1978)

Militant and extremely social film written and directed by Paul Schrader (screenwriter of Taxi Driver) that explores the lives of three workers in a car factory suffocated by the exploitation of their bosses and helpless by unions dependent on the elites. Blue Collar poses a brutal demystification of the American dream and attacks wild capitalism and its direct consequences on the mental health of the most disadvantaged social classes. Decent work and economic growth, Schrader points out, can only be achieved if society is fairer and more equitable and workers are legally represented.

(From left to right) Yaphet Kotto, Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor in a scene from 'Blue Collar', by Paul SchraderTAT Communications Company Still from the film

SDG 9: Metropolis (1928)

A film that denounces the tyranny with which totalitarian systems exploit the masses. Metropolis is an extremely modern film for 1928. In it, Fritz Lang recreates the great skyscrapers of the future with an overflowing imagination and presents an ultra-advanced technological world that even includes human robots. Industry, innovation and infrastructure, in addition to the need for workers to have fair working conditions, are key axes for human development. Metropolis reminds us to what extent the imagination of the filmmakers of the twenties resembled how the contemporary world was going to be.

Futuristic scene from 'Metropolis', by Fritz LangU.FA Frame from the film

SDG 10: Earth in a trance (1967)

Brazilian film, belonging to the Cinema Novo movement of which its director, Glauber Rocha, was the architect, which focuses on how political chaos generates social inequality and discontent that is the perfect breeding ground for extremist populisms that present themselves as guarantors of order. Tierra en Trance places the viewer in the fictional city of Eldorado, which is actually Brazil, shortly before the 1964 coup d'etat. of violence, illiteracy, cowardice and empty moralism, and recalls that the reduction of inequality – which must be exercised from political institutions – is the only guarantor of freedom and stability.

Jardel Filho (c) in a scene from 'Tierra en trance', by Glauber RochaMapa Filmes Still from the film

SDG 11: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)

Another movie inspired by incredible true events. This time the story moves to Malawi, in Africa, and follows the life of a teenager, William Kamkwamba, who developed a sophisticated wind energy system with which he managed to give electricity to a water pump that allowed the improvement of irrigation in the city. and save his community from a serious drought, in addition to generating drinking water for the rest of the neighbors. Through this type of inventiveness –although in this case they are born of precariousness– it is shown that many areas could bet on non-polluting renewable energies to maintain the sustainability of their cities and communities.

Maxwell Simba in a scene from 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind', by Chiwetel EjioforBBC Films / BFI Film Fund / Blue Sky Films / Netflix Promotional Image

SDG 12: Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Art and essay film belonging to the so-called 'Qatsi Trilogy' directed by Godfrey Reggio that managed to become a cult work thanks to the shocking pessimistic portrait it made of the excesses of globalization, the consumption system and the growth of cities . There is no narrator. There are no characters. Just a succession of images that speak for themselves: cities packed with vehicles, frenetic asphalt jungles and rampant pollution. Koyaanisqatsi, which literally means "life out of balance", is a call to action to fight for responsible production and consumption before it is too late.

Scene from 'Koyaanisqatsi' by Godfrey ReggioIRE Production Film frame

SDG 13: Don't look up (2021)

Acid satire about two scientists who try to alert the world about the arrival of an asteroid that will end the human species. Despite the seriousness of their discovery, both are received with indifference by politicians, journalists and citizens. With the excuse of the meteorite, Don't look up builds a clever allegory about the lack of climate action. The film asks us a very simple question: Will we act before it's too late?

(From left to right) Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from 'Don't Look Arrina', by Adam McKayNetflix Promotional Image

SDG 14: Big Blue (1988)

Shot in the spectacular Greek archipelago that includes the Cyclades Islands, The Big Blue is as much a love letter to the sea as it is to scuba diving. The story of rivalry between two freediving competitors is the least of it: Luc Besson's passion for the underwater world is what makes this film an essential film for nature lovers.

Jean-Marc Barr (l) and Jean Reno (r) in a scene from 'The Big Blue', by Luc BessonGaumont Still from the film

SDG 15: Dersu Uzala (1975)

"Man is insignificant compared to the vastness of nature." It is one of the many phrases with which Kurosawa watered the seeds of wisdom that sprouted in Dersu Uzala, a film about a Russian soldier who strikes up a strong friendship with a Siberian hunter, Dersu, who has ancient knowledge about human beings, nature and life. Respect for the life of terrestrial ecosystems is what helps this peculiar hunter to survive in an inhospitable environment. He believes that killing an animal, if not in strict self-defense, is a soul curse. "The human being has forgotten that he is also part of nature."

Maksim Munzuk (r) and Yuriy Solomin (l) in a scene from 'Dersu Uzala', by Akira KurosawaMosfilm / Atelier 41 / A Contracorriente Films Still from the film

SDG 16: Twelve Angry Men (1957)

In addition to being one of the best arguments against the death penalty, Twelve Angry Men, by the great Sidney Lumet, is a necessary film to keep us alert to possible improvements in the judicial system. Eleven men are sure that a young man is guilty of murder; one, without being in favor of his innocence, simply doubts and investigates the case thoroughly. Peace, justice and solid institutions, Lumet seems to anticipate, are essential for the proper functioning of democracy. Otherwise, you run the risk of the entire system breaking down.

The cast of '12 Angry Men', by Sidney LumetMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / Orion-Nova Productions Promotional Image

SDG 17: Tipping Point (1964)

What would happen if we were not able to form alliances to reach the objectives proposed by the United Nations? Lumet also has his particular vision on this matter: it would be an absolute disaster. Here there are no half measures or satires like the one proposed by Kubrick in Red Telephone? We flew to Moscow: the chaos would be irreparable. The filmmaker shot the film in the middle of the Cold War and his pessimistic vision went through the nuclear apocalypse, sponsored by the lack of political dialogue between nations, but seen from the eyes of the 21st century, Punto limit is more similar to Don't look up than others movies about the 'missile crisis': either we act in a coordinated way or the consequences will be incomprehensible for the human being.

The cast of 'Boundary Point,' by Sidney LumetColumbia Pictures Promotional Image

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