With all the righteous and warranted fervor in the air at the moment, it’s difficult to imagine what the world will look like 20 days from now, much less 20 years. But Aussie actor/filmmaker Damon Gameau spent three years working on 2040, a documentary exploring the best-case scenario for the world he hopes to leave for his daughter, Velvet.

Framed as a letter to his only child about what her life might be like when she gets to be his age, Gameau takes great pains to lay out every major aspect of daily life and how our current existential, ecological crisis could irrevocably alter it. But rather than doomsaying about the tides and climate change, he takes a more optimistic approach and talks about the many tangible, plausible options available to us as a society to prevent the nightmares from coming true.

Instead of relying on sci-fi concepts or leaning too heavily in the direction of the theoretical, Gameau merely extrapolates existing tech and practices and outlines the ways in which they could potentially coexist for a more sustainable, eco-friendly existence than the one we’re all sharing at the moment. But it’s the specific way this information gets organized that represents the beauty in this brand of hopeful prognostication

Gameau interviews a ton of kids and asks them about the future they want to see, all their answers being delightfully precocious and positing things like sending all the world’s trash to a special “rubbish dimension” or planting a special tree that grows meat instead of fruit so animals don’t have to die. Then, he extracts the basic human decency in their ideas and talks with experts about how those “pie in the sky” dreams could become reality.

At first, it feels like this experiment is going to be too focused on the ins and outs of each technology, as when Gameau explores solar energy and the way it has been successful in developing communities. It’s fun to theorize about science, sure, but this documentary asserts that the root cause of why we don’t already have many of the solutions isn’t because we can’t but because few of them are naturally conducive to the way capitalism currently functions. Luckily, Gameau does an incredible job of outlining the kind of political changes necessary between now and this potential “then” for our planet to be a livable place for Velvet and not a barren husk.

By not shying away from the thornier aspects of the conundrum and doing the homework with the eggheads, this could easily devolve into a boring and repetitive talking-heads affair, but the central conceit of cutting back-and-forth between the present day and that future year allows room for some fun. Gameau ages himself and his wife, shows slice-of-life snippets from Future Velvet’s daily routine and employs a fair share of illustrative background animation to bring this dream to life. Cutesy SFX like having Gameau and an expert seated on a giant wind generator are used sparingly but effectively.

All in all, 2040 is a thoughtful, charming documentary about the future we can have for ourselves and our descendants if we start working together to properly regulate the corporate forces that have brought our planet to the brink. That it gets across so much vital information without lecturing or pandering is a feat. This a very transitional year for the world, and it’s pleasant to watch a film that’s so positive but not afraid to tackle difficult facts head-on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

She Dies Tomorrow

Seimetz has, above all else, made a thrilling, pseudo-horror film about the inescapability…