SciFi shorts for geography teaching

After coming across some great scifi short films recently, I thought they might also be useful in geography teaching – both at university and in schools. Unlike full-length films, they could be used to introduce topics at the beginning of a course, to break up really long lectures or to serve as quick discussion hooks.

JONAH from Factory Fifteen on Vimeo.

Jonah seems ideal for stimulating discussions about tourism, globalisation and economic trajectories. Can there ever be a benign tourism? And, if yes, under what conditions? What role does tourism play in development and what are potential alternatives?

FUTURESTATES is a series by independent channel ITVS. It can sometimes be a bit too didactic, but provides a great selection of topics and questions. The above film imagines one potential trajectory for gated communities where parents genetically engineer their children to fit into their conservative society. ‘White’ is another good one that discusses climate change and race in a new light: dark skin (melanin) has become a sought after commodity.

Payload from Stu Willis on Vimeo.

In ‘Payload’, Australia has become a smuggler haven. Despite its brevity, the film covers a staggering number of issues including class, gender, poverty, human and organ trafficking, prostitution, smuggling, (food) security, education and corruption.

The treatment of piracy in Somalia in the form of a commercial (for Turkish appliance company Vestel) should make some disturbing or at least curious watching for post-colonial and geopolitics researchers.

Beautifully shot, Pumzi touches on a variety of themes, including future water and energy shortage, climate change, related wars, surveillance societies, politics of scientific research, ‘green’ approaches and the unequal (media) representation of world views.

Alive In Joburg – Neill Blomkamp from Spy Films on Vimeo.

The predecessor to District 9, this short comments on xenophobia, racism, speciesism, inhumanity and related infrastructure.

This is obviously just a small selection. If you have any other recommendations, feel free to post them below.


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