Films that Have Changed My Life

Robin Greenfield standing shirtless, with
ActivismCold Climate ResourcesConsciousnessEnvironmental Racism / IntersectionalityFeatured PostsFreedomHealthy, Happy LivingIntentional LivingJustice and EqualityOur Dear Friends in Service to Earth and HumanityPersonalRacial Equality and JusticeRobin’s TransformationSimple LivingSustainable LivingTips and How To'sTop Recommended Resources

In 2011, a personal revolution began in my mind. I came to realize that the way I was living was not in alignment with my beliefs. I realized that nearly every action I was taking was causing destruction to Earth, to humanity and to the plants and animals we share this home with. I learned that I was not only complicit to systems of oppression and exploitation but actively participating in and supporting these systems. I quickly decided that it was time to radically transform my life.

This realization came through numerous sources of knowledge, but at the heart of the realization were the films I was watching and the books I was reading. These resources opened my mind to a substantially different reality of the world that I thought I knew.

The films and TV series I’ve shared here are some that have affected me the most. Many of these films shook me to my core and taught me that so much of what I believed simply wasn’t true. During this period of self-education, I spent many late nights thinking, “What am I going to do? My foundation has crumbled beneath me. My life is not what I thought it was. The United States is not what I thought it was. The world as I know it is not the world as it truly is.”

Those nights of questioning quickly turned into days and nights of developing a new way forward and acting on this scheme. Over the next two years, I made over 100 changes in my life to live with truth and integrity. The films I was watching and the books I was reading were not just sharing the problems of the world, they were also sharing the solutions. I decided to embrace the solutions whole-heartedly.

I have many of these films – and the people behind them – to thank for the life that I live today.

I’ve created this resource page for those of you who are also on this journey of breaking free from oppressive, exploitative systems. It’s for those of you who are seeking truth; for those of you who want to move forward in a new way – a way of living in harmony with Earth, humanity and our plant and animal relatives.

My Top Five

These are five of the top films that have influenced my life and that I recommend to every single human:

The Story of Stuff Series
Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
Zeitgeist: The Movie
Food Inc

The Early Influences

This section includes 22 of the films and movies I watched during my period of awakening from 2011 to 2015 as well as a few films and movies I had watched prior to 2011.

Zeitgeist: The Movie
Zeitgeist completely rocked my world and left me thinking, “What the heck do I do now?” It woke me up from my sleepy state in which I thought everything was alright. I was actually shocked to the point of questioning how to go on with my life. After a few restless nights, calm returned to my body but I was changed forever. Note: There seems to be legitimate evidence that not everything in Zeitgeist is factual. With that being the case, I recommend watching the film with an open but critical mind. I do, however, believe that overall the message accurately depicts the time we live in.
Watch the full film here
Watch the trailer here

What the Bleep Do We know?
The title says it exactly, “What the heck do I really know”? I realized that everything in my life is just a matter of perspective. This documentary taught me that the human brain has been wired to perceive and react in a certain way from our own previous experiences. It stimulated me to question what reality really is. What the Bleep Do We Know?  is deep. I’m still not ready to go as far down the rabbit hole as the filmmakers did on this topic, but the few inches I went in was mind altering.

“The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but be in the mystery.”
Watch the trailer here

Food Inc
This documentary shook me up and completely changed the way I look at food. I learned that most of our food is controlled by a few corporations that only care about money and have billions of dollars to control the laws in their favor. These corporations do what it takes to stay in power, increase their power and kill the competition. This documentary inspired me to change the way I eat and after this I began eating much more local, organic, whole foods.
Watch the trailer here

“We are all animals of this planet. We are all creatures. And non-human animals experience sensations just like we do. They, too, are strong, intelligent, industrious, mobile, and evolutional. They, too, are capable of growth and adaptation. Like us, first and foremost they are Earthlings. And like us, they are surviving. Like us, they also seek their own comfort rather than discomfort. And like us, express degrees of emotion. In short, like us, they are alive.”

Earthlings taught me just how inhumane our current society is to animals. I started to realize that animals are not inferior, rather they are just different. In many ways, I believe they are superior to us in ways that most of us do not comprehend. This film helped me to overcome my ignorance as to how my life was harming animals. I’d like to note that this film might pose veganism as the only solution, but I don’t believe that to be the case. There are other alternatives. I have written extensively on that here.

“A change is inevitable. Either we make it ourselves or we will be forced to make it by nature itself. The time has come for each of us to reconsider our eating habits, our traditions, our styles and fashions, and above all, our thinking.”
Watch the trailer here
Watch the full film here

The Story of Stuff Series
The Story of Stuff is an eight-part web series that helped me to understand how much destruction I was causing as a consumer. I learned that the United States makes up just 5% of the world’s population but uses 30% of the resources. Only 4% of our original forests remain. 40% of our water is now undrinkable. Over 75% of the worlds fisheries are overfished. The USA and other industrialized nations go into developing nations and take their natural resources to create our stuff, displacing people from their land. We create four billion pounds of toxic chemicals per year in the USA, not including the factories we’ve sent overseas. I also learned about planned and perceived obsolescence which makes us consume more, externalizing costs that allow us to have cheap stuff, and that national happiness has gone down since the era of mass consumption began.

One of the very impactful videos in the series was The Story of Cosmetics, which largely inspired me to adopt a natural personal hygiene.
Watch the full 8 video series here

[One Percent] of the Story
For a long time, my life revolved around making a lot of money. For the most part, I put desires first with the money I earned. I did give a small amount to charity, but in 2011 I was introduced to 1% for the Planet and was inspired to start using my business for good. I watched this film dozens of times and each time was inspired to use my business as an outlet to affect positive change. I went above and beyond 1% in my first year and donated 5-10% of my total business revenue to environmental non-profits. Now I’ve vowed to donate 100% of my media income to nonprofits.
Watch the short film here

Planet Earth and Life
Planet Earth simply inspired me to go out and see the world. It, along with other nature series, opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and inspired me to be a part of it. The more I see of the world, the more of a desire I have to protect it. Planet Earth is simply stunning and has inspired many people to protect the Earth that we love.
Watch the Life trailer here
Watch the Planet Earth trailer here
Watch the full series of Planet Earth here

Supersize Me!
I used to eat a fair amount of fast food. In high school, I worked at Hardee’s and ate countless hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. For about a decade, I really enjoyed McDonald’s ice cream cones, even trying them in every country I went to. But learning about the havoc that these fast food companies wreak on both humanity and the environment has forced me to completely boycott them.
Watch the trailer here

The World According to Monsanto
“We are going to talk about the production model of GM Soybeans promoted by Monsanto. It’s a true multinational company. It’s everywhere in the world. Its’ objective is to control all of the world’s food production through farmer-less farming. The result is that Monsanto is depriving us of our food sovereignty, of our ability to feed ourselves without depending on anyone else. That is why we say that we must fight for our independence, for our land. We must fight for our communities, our families, and our country.”

This is a quote from the film that struck me the most. After watching The World According to Monsanto, I decided that I would no longer purchase GMOs.
Watch the full film here
I was also inspired and informed about GMOs by Seeds of Death.

Food Matters
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

More and more throughout my transformation, I started to lose trust in the pharmaceutical industry. Far too much money is involved and there are too many ulterior motives to trust these multi-billion dollar corporations. We are being sold products that we don’t need and, rather than making us more healthy, it is often detrimental to our greater wellbeing. Good health is often quite simple and most problems can be avoided by taking care of our bodies. When in doubt, use nutrition, not prescriptions.

If the companies actually made us healthier then we wouldn’t have to buy their products any more. What’s their business incentive in helping us to become truly healthy?
Watch the trailer here

Into the Wild
I deeply respect Christopher McCandless. This movie inspired me to simplify my life and to live a genuine life. I learned a lot from Christopher and can deeply relate to his desire for truth. I also recommend reading the book, which is a much more accurate portrayal of his life.
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau
Watch the trailer here

Forrest Gump
This is my all-time favorite movie. Forrest inspires me to be a human of integrity and take on the world with a positive attitude.
Watch the trailer here

180 Degrees South
This is one of the most inspirational documentaries that I’ve ever watched. Every time that I watched it, I had trouble sleeping as my mind raced with ideas for adventures and travels. The film also reintroduced me to Patagonia, which inspired me to use business for good, bring integrity into my purchasing habits, and support grassroots organizations fighting for the preservation of Earth.
Watch the trailer here

The Motorcycle Diaries
I watched this way back when I was in college and it inspired me to explore other cultures and fueled my desire to travel through Latin America. Traveling has been one of the best investments I made with my money. Experiencing other cultures has helped me to be more understanding and accepting of others and to embrace our greater humanity.
Watch the trailer here

After watching Blackfish, I will never step foot in Sea World again. More importantly though, I learned how intelligent whales and dolphins are and realized how absurd it is for us to cage them for our entertainment. I think it’s only a matter of time before the human race catches up with this understanding and follows through.
Watch the trailer here

Baraka and Samsara
Both of these films showed the world to me in a way that I had never seen it before. The food sequence in Samsara was utterly shocking. To watch these films is like walking in the shoes of dozens of people from different walks of life. Of course, true experience is always the best, but from the comfort of your living room there are few better ways to see the Earth.
Watch the Samsara trailer here
Watch the Baraka trailer here

Fed Up
This is definitely a film the industrial food industry does not want us to see. At the time of watching, I had already changed the way I ate, but had I not, this film would have started the transformation. Childhood obesity is something that really hits me in the heart and this shows how childhood obesity has gone from nearly non-existent to the new normal in just a few decades. The government is largely responsible and it’s time they start truly serving Americans as we expect them to.
Watch the trailer here

Plastic Paradise
There is no “away”. Once plastic is created, it is on this Earth for as long as most of us can truly fathom. This film really shows the importance of quitting the single-use plastics.
Watch the trailer here

Gandhi has been one of the absolute greatest inspirations to me and this movie deeply impacted me. I am following in the footsteps of Gandhi and intend to refer to his work as long as I live. This film is an amazing way to introduce yourself to one of the world’s most influential men.
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Watch the trailer here

When the credits came on in the theater, I sat in my seat and cried for about 20 minutes. This movie is a portrayal of what I think could happen to Planet Earth if we continue down the destructive path we are on today. Even though this is a Hollywood movie, there is a largely accepted scientific theory that the movie is based on. This movie rocked me.
Watch the trailer here

Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey
I recommend looking beyond what is around you, beyond the borders of your country, and beyond the planet we call home. It’s once you start to take in the reality of the seemingly infinite cosmos that you realize humans are not the center of the universe. My importance in the grand scheme of life has grown smaller and smaller over the years. I can’t share it any better than Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, so I simply recommend watching this series. My life is not the same after watching this in 2014-2015.
Watch the trailer here

Films Watched 2016 and After

“The documentary, 13th explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African Americans. The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13th refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.”
Watch the trailer here – Watch for free on YouTube

I also recommend reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

I’ve shared many more films and books for Black liberation here

I watched Selma as I was traveling through Alabama in 2016 deepening my knowledge on the Civil Rights Movement. It was an extremely powerful film to watch. I recommend this film to anyone beginning their journey in understanding the movement of Black liberation.
Watch the trailer here

The Butler
This movie is based on the true story of Cecil Gaines, who served eight presidents as the White House’s head butler from 1952 to 1986.
Watch the trailer here

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
“When Donald Trump said, “This election is rigged”— he should know.
His buddies rigged it. Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck, the secret purge list that helped steal the 2016 Election. Crosscheck is controlled by a Trump henchman, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, who claims his computer program has identified 7.2 million people in 29 states who may have voted twice in the same election–a felony crime. The catch? Most of these “suspects” are minorities—in other words, mainly Democratic voters. Yet the lists and the evidence remain ‘confidential’.”
Watch the trailer here

“The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official.”
Watch the trailer here

You’ve probably heard about child sex abuse in the Catholic churches, but you might not know the details, the extent or the story of the journalists that uncovered the worldwide cover-up by the Catholic church. Spotlight brings you deep into this story and follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team in their investigative journalism to expose this story in Boston and ultimately worldwide.
Watch the trailer here

Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore brings us his perspective on September 11th and it’s a very eye opening perspective to learn from. This documentary opened my eyes more to some of the things going on in American politics.
Watch the trailer here

The True Cost
I recommend this documentary to anyone who wears clothes. It is likely to change the way you think of them.
Watch the trailer here

The Big Short
“It’s all an illusion…run by a bunch of idiots. In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting. Burry bets against the housing market by throwing more than $1 billion of his investors’ money into credit default swaps. His actions attract the attention of banker Jared Vennett, hedge-fund specialist Mark Baum and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men make a fortune by taking full advantage of the impending economic collapse in America.”
Watch the trailer here

Chasing Ice
My jaw consistently dropped throughout this film. If you are looking to understand climate change in more depth, then this film is a must watch!
Watch the trailer here

Culture High
Get informed on medical marijuana in the USA and its effects on the entire world. I strongly believe that legalizing marijuana would have incredibly beneficial effects worldwide and this documentary really hits home on these thoughts.
Watch the trailer here

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
Quite possibly the most inspired I’ve ever felt at the end of a documentary. Eat your greens my friends!
Watch the trailer here

He Named Me Malala
Malala is one of the most inspirational people that I have come across in the last few years. This documentary really inspired me to stand up for what is right. Her story of standing up for women’s rights is truly incredible and rightly so is being followed by many women around the world.
Watch the trailer here

Just Eat it
As much as half of all the food produced in the USA is wasted, while one in seven Americans are food insecure. Just Eat It is an incredible documentary that explains the issue of food waste better than anyone else ever has in a feature film, and in such an interesting way. If you want to be educated on food waste, there is no quicker way to get up to speed on the issue.
Watch the trailer here

Awake: The Life of Yogananda
This is the biography of Paramahansa Yogananda who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. “The documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west, and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.”
Watch the trailer here

Living on One Dollar and Salam Neighbor
Bot of these documentaries are an emotional and educational look into life that many in Western countries can hardly fathom. Living on One Dollar takes us to rural Guatemala where Chris and a few friends aim to live on just $1/day to give us a glimpse of what life is like there for the many people around the world who live on just $1/day. In Salam Neighbor, they live in a Syrian refuge camp for a month to show us what life is like there and bring attention to the human rights issues there.
Watch Living on One Dollar trailer and Salam Neighbor Trailer

Racing Extinction
“In Racing Extinction, a team of artists and activists expose the hidden world of extinction with never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the planet. Two worlds drive extinction across the globe, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The international wildlife trade creates bogus markets at the expense of creatures that have survived on this planet for millions of years. And the other surrounds us, hiding in plain sight — a world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes these two worlds in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it.”
Watch the trailer here

Gasland is one of the most comprehensive and concise resources on the internet for understanding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – a very destructive method of extracting natural gas and oil. Anyone wanting to understand where their energy comes from and the impact it has on people and the planet would benefit from watching this.
Watch the trailer here

Requiem For the American Dream
Requiem for the American Dream is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive, on the defining characteristic of our time – the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality – tracing a half-century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority – while also looking back on his own life of activism and political participation. Profoundly personal and thought provoking, Chomsky provides penetrating insight into what may well be the lasting legacy of our time – the death of the middle class, and swan song of functioning democracy. A potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed, Requiem is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.”
Watch the trailer here

Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price
“The documentary argues that Wal-Mart underpays its workers, paying them an average of $17,000 per year (in 2005 dollars).  According to the interviews, these wages are too low for employees to afford Wal-Mart’s health insurance, so management counsels workers to apply for government programs such as Medicaid instead. [Director Robert] Greenwald also claims that Wal-Mart hires undocumented workers for their cleanup crews, paying them well below minimum wage. Other criticisms of the retail mega-chain include Wal-Mart’s anti-union practices, its negative effect on mom and pop stores and small communities, insufficient environmental protection policies, and its poor record on worker’s rights in the United States and internationally. Scenes filmed abroad document factory workers in Bangladesh and China creating Wal-Mart goods for as little as 18 cents an hour.”
Watch the trailer here


“How might your life be better with less? Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life – families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker – all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.”
Watch the trailer here

Where to Invade Next
“Filmmaker Michael Moore visits various countries to examine how Europeans view work, education, health care, sex, equality, and other issues. From cafeteria food to sex ed, Moore looks at the benefits of schooling in France, Finland and Slovenia. In Italy, he marvels at how workers enjoy reasonable hours and generous vacation time. In Portugal, Moore notes the effects of the decriminalization of drugs. Through his travels, we discover just how different America is from the rest of the world.”
Watch the trailer here

Blood Diamond
Watch the trailer here

Chasing Coral
“Beneath the waves, coral reefs are dying on a massive scale. These scientists and filmmakers are fighting to stop it.”
Watch the trailer here

Gender Revolution
This documentary “explores our evolving understanding of gender identity, speaking with transgender and intersex individuals about their experiences.” I recommend this documentary to anyone who wants to be more understanding and accepting of different gender identities and especially those who are just beginning their journey.
Watch the trailer here

Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
Inhabit is a feature-length documentary introducing permaculture: a design method that offers an ecological lens for solving issues related to agriculture, economics, governance, and so on. The film presents a vast array of projects, concepts, and people, and it translates the diversity of permaculture into something that can be understood by an equally diverse audience. For those familiar, it will be a call to action and a glimpse into what’s possible – what kind of projects and solutions are already underway. For those unfamiliar, it will be an introduction to a new way of being and a new way of relating to the Earth. For everyone, it will be a reminder that humans are capable of being planetary healing forces.”
Watch the trailer here

SEED: The Untold Story

“Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshiped and treasured since the dawn of humankind, SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. SEED features Vandana Shiva, Dr. Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbrell, Winona Laduke and Raj Patel.”

Watch the trailer here

Biggest Little Farm

The Biggest Little Farm chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.

Through dogged perseverance and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the Chesters unlock and uncover a bio-diverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons, and our wildest imagination.”

Watch the trailer here

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

“In this unique feature documentary, titled David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, the celebrated naturalist reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime and the devastating changes he has seen. The film addresses some of the biggest challenges facing life on our planet, providing a snapshot of global nature loss in a single lifetime. With it comes a powerful message of hope for future generations as Attenborough reveals the solutions to help save our planet from disaster.”

Watch the trailer here

A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity

“Follows a community in Australia who have come together to explore and demonstrate a simpler way to live in response to global crises. Throughout the year, the group builds tiny houses, plants veggie gardens, practices simple living and permaculture principles, and discovers the challenges of living in community.”

Watch the full documentary here. Watch the trailer here.

Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future

“The film explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative way.”

Watch the trailer here

Artifishal – The Fight to Save Wild Salmon

Artifishal is a film about people, rivers, and the fight for the future of wild fish and the environment that supports them. It explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature.”

Watch the full documentary free here

DamNation – The Problem with Hydropower

“This film explores the evolution of our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of wild rivers.”

Watch the full documentary free here


“An unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s really going on in our world by following the money upstream – uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives.”

Fast Food Nation

“An examination of the health risks involved in the fast food industry as well as its environmental and social consequences.”

How to Change your Mind

“It showcases what psychedelics teach people about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression and transcendence.”

Doing Time Doing Vipassana

“This is the story of an ancient meditation technique named Vipassana, which shows people how to take control of their lives and channel them toward their own good.It is the story of a strong woman named Kiran Bedi, the former Inspector General of Prisons in New Delhi, who strove to transform the notorious Tihar Prison and turn it into an oasis of peace. But most of all it is the story of prison inmates who underwent profound change, and who realized that incarceration is not the end but possibly a fresh start toward an improved and more positive life.”

Awake: The Life of Yogananda
“AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.”

Other Resources

Films for action – This website has a plethora of films to facilitate you on your path to becoming a world-changing human being.

Resources for Education and Inspiration:

Robin Greenfield’s Book Recommendations
50+ People to Listen to and Learn from
Films that Changed My Life
Nonprofits I Recommend and Support
Social Media Pages I Recommend to Follow
YouTube Channels I Recommend to Watch
Black Liberation Resources
Indigenous Sovereignty Resources

This page was created on 12/07/2023 and was last updated 12/08/2023

Follow Robin on social media

Featured Posts