Fanny Armstrong's "The Age of Stupid" provides an appropriate place to start. Her hybrid doc posits a future devastated by climate change, and a lone archivist - Peter Postlethwaite - who looks back to our present for its causes. The mix of real stories against a nightmarish but all-too-possible future scenario forces audiences to confront the ticking clock before permanent damage is done for generations to come.
One such cautionary tale is revealed in Chris Perkel and Georgie Roland’s "The Town That Was." Centralia, PA was once an active mining town - until an underground anthracite coal fire decimated the town. The fire has been burning since 1962, leaving the the environment hopelessly polluted, and just eleven residents.
Another micro level look at a community struggling to survive comes in Hanson Hosein's "Independent America: Rising From Ruins." The film explores the economic apocalypse facing smaller stores against the rise of big box stores. The specific case of a post-Katrina New Orleans demonstrates both the possibility of mom and pop stores and local economies to have a resurgence, and the political reality that has hampered community efforts to reclaim a sustainable way of life.
Pete McGrain's "Ethos: A Time for Change" looks at the larger issues that are contributing to the seemingly inevitable downward spiral of modern-day society. Exploring how systemic flaws are contributing to the growth of poverty, inequality, pollution, and war, the film champions the possibility of new ideas to turn things around.
In the same vein, João G Amorim's similarly subtitled "2012: Time for Change" presents an alternative to doomsday scenarios. Conversations with a range of experts and celebrity activists suggest consciousness-changing paths for sustainability and continued future.
Finally, Rudy Poe's "Imagine It!"</a> and Steven Latham and Daphne Zuniga's "The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED" both share this positivity, providing access to innovative thinkers whose inspirational ideas put in practice have the potential of changing the world for the better.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Indiewire @ Hulu Docs" is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu's Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, Shorts & Panel Programmer for DOC NYC, and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).