- 2040. Starring: Damon Gameau, and Zoe Gameau. Also, Eva Lazaro, and Davini Malcolm. Directed by Damon Gameau. Rated G (General). 92 min.
This is an Australian documentary, that explores a range of suggested solutions on environmental issues with a particular focus on climate change. In the film, award-winning Director (Damon Gameau) - an Australian actor, turned documentary director - interacts individually with his 4-yr. old daughter, Velvet (Zoe Gameau), hoping that the year 2040 will bring her a brighter future. It is the result of 8 months research, and he interviewed over 100 professionals in the climate field.
2040 is the 40th. year of the 21st. Century. In the year 2040, Gameau will be 64 yrs. of age, and Velvet will be 25. Gameau thinks he might be too old to fully appreciate possible changes occurring around him in the year 2040, but he thinks Velvet will be at an age to optimally experience the positive impact of changes introduced now. The year 2040 is also the year of especially significant events scheduled to occur. It is the year, for example, when diesel and petroleum cars will be banned by France and the United Kingdom, and the year when Amsterdam aims to be fossil fuel-free.
The film is concerned primarily to orientate its viewers to a future that is positive. It pointedly embraces the best solutions that Gameau sees available to the world at the present time. He wants to drive his planet adaptively into the future, but that will only occur, he says, if we implement possible solutions quickly. Gameau’s future world is structured around what the world would look like if his solutions were put in place, and he maps out a pathway - involving advances in the grid connection of solar panels, regenerative agriculture, and marine permaculture - that he thinks will lead us to a more sustainable and equitable future.
Knowing that his 4-year old daughter will inherit the world he is envisaging, the film shows Gameau consulting with influential change-makers, who he thinks will pioneer the best solutions. He delivers his advice with humour and candour; uses simple animation to illustrate the points he wants to make; and he appeals frequently to the views of the young. The film aims to be informative and educational. Gameau’s end goal is to inspire action as well as change. He wants to enthuse, not alarm people, who might be listening to what he is saying, and he is convinced that it is the young (now), who will be the most responsive to change in the year 2040.
Gameau believes strongly in climate change, but he knows that not everyone agrees with him. Viewers’ opinions aside, the documentary is innovative in style, and construction. It looks at specific solutions available to cope with what Gameau views as environmental threats, and Gameau structures the film pointedly as a visual letter to his 4-year old child. He blends standard documentary, archival footage with visual effects and dramatically-mounted visual sequences - to communicate a positive, rather than a depressing, vision of the planet for his young child.
The documentary communicates a humane and compassionate view of the planet’s problems. It calls for political and corporate action, and encourages communities to communicate and contribute their own visions and ideas. The film is utopian in its vision, and always hopeful. The chief fault of the documentary lies in Gameau predicting that our best selves are needed to save the planet, but that may not be true. The film is an idealist’s vision of a healthy Earth in the year 2040, and no one can be certain that our planet will be as he describes it at that time. However, the documentary argues forcibly that we can make a real difference to this planet’s future, and it communicates his messages in an entertaining, though, at times, provocative, way.
Gameau doesn’t give the arguments of climate-change deniers a great deal of attention. He believes strongly that it is time to move the deniers aside, and let the change-agents through. But no matter what opinions exist on the thrust of this film, it calls us to positive thinking about the issues. This is a movie that is bound to get viewers talking actively and energetically about what “change” might mean 21 yrs. from now, if we followed Gameau’s advice.
Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Released May 23, 2019