Damon Gameau’s speculative documentary-of-sorts is an accessible and particularly optimistic view of what the future might look like if we all do the right thing now – which, it must be said at the moment, perhaps looks more than a little unlikely.
Gameau, an actor of note (he was in Rolf De Heer’s The Tracker, for example), became a director and quite the activist after 2014’s That Sugar Film, which was also around the time that his daughter Velvet was born, and he started to wonder what our world might look like in her 20s.
Damon appears and narrates as he walks through, at first, what’s surely his own house, and he explains his intentions for the film. We see him, his wife Zoë and young Velvet in their backyard while he discusses his inspiration and how he undertook a trip to investigate how positive change might be implemented around the world, as light FX and animation are used to, for example, make reference to the melting of the polar ice caps, as he peers into his freezer.
Eva Lazzaro appears as the future Velvet while notable experts (Dr Kate Raworth, Paul Hawken, Toby Seba and others) turn up to talk to Gameau and to camera (sometimes in unexpected places). There are a lot of graphs and technical statistics, most of which are handled cautiously so as not to baffle or frighten younger audiences, who tend to understandably find all this simply too hard to deal with, and clever use of bright humour certainly helps.
A tendency to shy away from grim terms like ‘environmental catastrophe’, ‘climate change’ and ‘mass extinction’ is also evident, and there is a point where it’s a little hard not to think this filmmaker is maybe being a little too idealistic. But there are some powerful points as well, and Gameau is right when he says, over and over, that everyone should get involved, so check out the tie-in book and madmanfilms.com.au/2040film to do so.
And maybe it isn’t too late. Let’s hope so.
2040 (G) is in cinemas now