Understanding environmentalism as a feminist media concern: documentary filmmaking, argumentation, advocacy and industry

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Over the last two decades, documentary filmmakers have increasingly turned their attention to environmental issues, whether the climate crisis, pollution, threats to the biosphere and its species or the effects of resource extraction. Women consistently play key roles in environmental documentary filmmaking, whether behind or in front of the camera. This essay explores the nexus of documentary filmmaking, women and environment. It examines the Australian documentary sector, tracking changing pathways of opportunity for women working in documentary production, particularly in relation to the causal connections between the rise of philanthropic funding and environmental documentary. The discussion investigates two recent examples, Wild Things (2020) and The Leadership (2020), exploring how they might reward an analysis that connects environmentalism and women. Tracking the convergence of a number of factors, including the gendered composition of the documentary sector, the rise of “impact documentary” with its changed conceptualisation of audiences, and the gendered profile of environmentalism, this article argues that contemporary documentary filmmaking is a significant site for understanding the environment as a feminist concern.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • activism
  • Australia
  • Documentary
  • environment
  • feminism
  • film industry
  • impact

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