Documentary Films

All films start at 3 PM Films may change without notice due to circumstances beyond our control.

Please note: Many of these documentary films are available for loan through the McGill Library system (Redpath Library downtown and/or Macdonald campus) or through the FREE download on the KANOPY website.


June 18: Empty Oceans, Empty Nets :The Race to Save Marine Fisheries (PBS, 2002):  A documentary exploring the declining state of fishing and how communities of fishermen, scientists and environmentalist restore them. Many marine scientists agree that the conduct of the global fishing fleet is now the number one human activity threatening the health of our oceans. Throughout the ages, the world has enjoyed a vast and unlimited ocean, yielding abundant seafood. But increasing demand, new technologies, and burgeoning coastal populations are straining the limits of the ocean’s ability to sustain healthy fish populations. Narrated by Peter Coyote, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets is a powerful documentary on the rapidly declining fish harvests of the world. 

AND Oceans (Disney, 2010). Journey in to the depths of a wonderland filled with mystery, beauty and power. Oceans is a spectacular story, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, about remarkable creatures under the sea. It's an unprecedented look at the lives of these elusive deepwater creatures through their own eyes. Incredible state-of-the-art-underwater filmmaking will take your breath away as you migrate with whales, swim alongside a great white shark and race with dolphins at play.

Museum closed 25 June and 2 July

July 9: Arctic Tale (2007). Arctic Tale, an animal-centric documentary, uses unadulterated authentic footage to capture close up impressions of a walrus pup and polar bear cub. With these lovable tykes 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. 

July 16: Sushi: The Global Catch (2012)
Though it’s summary describes at a documentary about the history of sushi, this film actually explores the impact of sushi consumption on the ocean and it’s potentially devastating effects. From humble
beginnings as a simple food sold by Japanese street vendors, sushi has exploded into an international phenomenon in the past 30 years. SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH is a feature-length documentary shot in five countries exploring the history, problems and future of this popular cuisine. Much of sushi's rich cultural tradition that began in Tokyo is changing as raw fish now appear from cities like Warsaw and New York to small towns worldwide. But what is the cost? Will the worldwide hunger for sushi continue to grow until wild fish vanish, or will new technology like aquaculture keep plates full? Can sustainable sushi restaurants satisfy consumers or will competition for declining resources drive prices so high that only a few can afford raw fish?
AND Moana

July 23: Vancouver Island: River of Life (2015). Vancouver Island, running along Canada's southern West coast, has the richest Pacific wildlife, thinks to the ideal fishing grounds for salmon, who produce abundant eggs in its many rivers and lakes, the tiny surviving percentage reaching the ocean trying to return there, spawn and die five years later. They cater for many predators, from egg-eating birds to vultures, eagles and black bears, and even fertilize the trees enough to grow thrice as fast. Seals, giant octopuses and orca (killer whales) are among the marine predators enjoying the abundant seafood. 
AND Paddle to the Sea (NFB).

July 30: Before the Flood (2016). A devoted environmentalist, actor Leonardo DiCaprio was named the United Nations Messenger on Climate Change in 2014. He's by no means a scientist, but his tremendous fame affords him the global platform and unfettered access required to effectively advocate for the preservation of our planet. With great determination and investigative curiosity, DiCaprio embraces this challenge through the format for which he is best known: the cinema.
The feature-length documentary Before the Flood represents the fruits of his efforts to educate himself and others on this pressing crisis. The film takes a sweeping and all-encompassing view of the slowly building catastrophe that is global warming. DiCaprio plays inquisitive host to many of the world's top climate scientists and assorted leaders who have remained at the forefront of the issue. 
AND St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea (NFB) 

August 6: Moving Art: Oceans (2014) 25 minutes. The Moving Art series makes nature into art by combining beautiful cinematography and music, so chances are you won’t learn much from this 25-minute film. But you will get a chance to enjoy the majesty and beauty of the ocean in images.
AND Arctic Ocean (National Geographic) 25 minutes. Crowning the top of the world, the frozen Arctic Ocean provides an unlikely home for a spectrum of enchanting creatures. Above the ice and below, beluga whales, narwhals, bowhead whales, walruses, and murres prosper. Narrated by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle.
ND 20000 Leagues Under the Sea

August 13: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie . This feature documentary profiles the life and work of world-renowned Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist David Suzuki on the occasion of his last lecture in 2009—a lecture he describes as “a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die.” As Suzuki reflects on his family history—including the persecution of Japanese Canadians during WWII—and his discovery of the power and beauty of the natural world, we are spurred to examine our own relationship to nature, scientific knowledge, and sustainability throughout modernity and beyond.
AND Cries from the Deep (NFB)

August 20: Great Lakes, Bad Lines (2016). Many environmental documentaries recount the aftermath of a grave disaster. Great Lakes, Bad Lines is refreshingly different in this regard. The film concerns the inevitable erosion and malfunction of Enbridge Line 5, a Canadian-owned pipeline that stretches across over 500 miles and transports 23 million gallons of oil through much of Michigan's Great Lakes on a daily basis. The line was built over 60 years ago, and is in urgent need of repair. Experts agree that something needs to be done, or the region will inevitably suffer one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recorded history. The film is a convincing and proactive effort to raise awareness and provoke change.
AND The Whale (Director Suzanne Chisholm)

August 27: Chevron vs. the Amazon. The oil industry giant Chevron began operating in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest in 1964. Over the course of thirty years, this majestic environmental wonder became the victim of unregulated corporate abuse and greed. By the time the corporation vacated the area in 1992, their toxic footprint had brought about 1700 times more damage to the environment than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in the United States. Empire Files host Abby Martin visits the scene of the crime in Chevron vs. the Amazon, and uncovers the extent to which the criminal acts of industry have spoiled the riches of a tropical paradise. The Amazon plays host to hundreds of thousands of unique species of plant life, insects, animals, as well as an equally diverse human population. All of this came under threat when Chevron established operations in the region over 50 years ago.

Sept. 3: Museum closed