Thanks in large part to Al Gore, environmental documentaries have moved from low–rent anonymity to bankable cinema. These three DVDs get the entertainment/inspiration balance right.
Brave New West
For nearly 20 years, Ed Abbey groupie Jim Stiles has been railing against the commercialization of the American West with controversial, hand–drawn cartoons in the Canyon Country Zephyr, his self–published, Moab–based newspaper. This funny, frank film profiles the flannel–clad curmudgeon and his one–man fight to save the landscape he loves. $25; highplainsfilms.org
New Mexico–based “biotect” Michael Reynolds—who’s never met a bureaucrat (or a hairbrush) he likes—lost his architect’s license due to his kooky earthship–building ways. So he took them abroad. Garbage Warrior follows Reynolds to India and Mexico, where he teaches locals in natural–disaster–devastated towns how to rebuild cheaply, creatively, and beautifully, with trash. $25; garbagewarrior.com
Alaskan fishing families are struggling to save their salmon stocks from a planned 15–square–mile copper–and–gold mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed. The audience favorite at Telluride Mountainfilm, Red Gold lets the brawlers on both sides tell the tale—from the corporate mine advocates with a fortune to gain to gun–toting, fish–fed old–timers with everything to lose. $25; feltsoulmedia.com