Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"This is a grand vision, grandly executed, and like the solutions it depicts it exists today." | Photo: Courtesy of EIFF

2040 is an achievement, managing to create an affirming and positive documentary about climate change that does not shy away from the challenges. Opening with an astonishing digitally enhanced tour of Damon Gameau's home. That personal presence informs 2040, that's when his daughter Velvet is due to be 25, and this film is addressed to her. Not apostrophically, directly - it's slightly jarring to be called darling by a film, never mind half a dozen times, but it's part of the charm.

Following Gameau as he visits various schools, countries, we meet those who will live in the future, those who are building things that exist now that will meet various climate related challenges. Nothing here is science fiction, save for a phone/drone hybrid thrown in to avoid a selfie stick, and even then there's an autonomous camera being crowdfunded as I write this - probably more than one.

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There are good interviews - a discussion of microgrids is interesting enough that I'll be commending it to my sibling who lectures on a related subject. There's international travel and a message about both carbon off-set and reforestation and I don't want to say too much because you should go and see this. It's a treat. Gameau's charm would probably carry a weaker film but this is beautifully constructed - I say nothing here is science fiction because all the things depicted are real, exist now, but there's hypothetication and projection to depict the cities and streets of 21 years hence.

There's crisp digital work - some interviewees are made tiny (shades of Downsizing) and streets are reformatted to carry new forms of public transport, autonomous vehicles, parks and parties. There's also a wee suggestion that goth might see a resurgence in time for Dario Argento and HR Giger's centenaries and the sesquicentennial of The Portrait of Dorian Gray which might amuse some. Not least that latter because in the 'future' sequences Gameau appears as his future self, grey hair an indicator that he has no attic picture to age in his stead. Unless the film itself counts?

There are some nits to pick - I could talk about issues with double coincidence of wants and debt, I could express concern about the film's reliance on doughnut economic theory, a first school dance seems to break with the future history already depicted but I'm scratching around in wormy soil looking for where problems used to be. This is a grand vision, grandly executed, and like the solutions it depicts it exists today. There's a website whatsyour2040.com that's worth visiting, it's linked at the end of the film. A film that you should watch.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2019
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2040 packshot
The intrepid creator of the documentary That Sugar Film sets off on another journey, this time to scour the world for solutions and measures to combat climate change.
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Director: Damon Gameau

Writer: Damon Gameau

Starring: Damon Gameau, Eva Lazzaro, Zoe Gameau, Davini Malcolm, Damon Gameau, Eva Lazzaro, Zoe Gameau, Davini Malcolm

Year: 2019

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Australia


BIFF 2019
EIFF 2019

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