2040: Documentary Review

Our resident reviewer Ashwini was lucky enough to preview the thought-provoking and empowering documentary "2040" - which hit cinemas across Australia today.

“From little things, big things grow” can be aptly used to describe tiny seedlings turning into enormous trees or young children maturing into full-grown adults, but what if this saying was applied to climate change and sustainability? What if little changes we all made during 2019 could create a thriving oasis in 2040?

In his latest documentary venture 2040, filmmaker Damon Gameau poses this question to his audience and adequately provides real-life examples of how little changes we make today can hugely impact our future.

What sets this film apart from other shocking environmental documentaries is Gameau’s direct vulnerability and focus on future generations. 2040 is first and foremost a personal journey and labour of love as Gameau invites viewers into his own home and implores us to feel his responsibility of creating a healthier, happier planet for his young daughter Velvet’s future.

Not only does this portray Gameau as a humorous down-to-earth Australian bloke, but it also works as a direct plea for audiences to wake-up and smell the coffee of climate change being an individual at-home issue affecting all of us. As we watch Velvet get her tiny hands grubby while planting outside, and listen to Gameau state “Earth is our collective home we are renting from future generations”, it is clear this film is a visual directive for shifting the climate change conversation from present to future.

During his mission to find real-world examples of people effecting change now Gameau shares incredible stories from Bangladesh, Singapore, Australia, North America and Sweden where technology, ride-sharing, farming, marine permaculture and food wastes are being revolutionised.

In Bangladesh, we are inspired by 23-year-old product manager Neel Tamhane of startup company ME SOLshare that has successfully brought power and electricity to thousands in rural villages through an affordable, sustainable solar energy trading model.

In Australia, we are urged to think about food choices as a farmer changes his agricultural approach, using plants instead of chemicals to cultivate nutrient-dense soil and foods for healthier animals, people and the environment.

In Massachussets, we are surprised to learn how something as dismissible as seaweed can actually be used as biofuel, as an innovative biologist exposes the versatile and humble underwater algae.

All these examples work effectively to paint a picture of the potential future and slowly, but surely, change-maker Gameau pieces together sustainable visions of 2040.

Where residents control the switches of energy and power, ideas of food consumption have eaten away at unhealthy options and changed into a healthier approach, ride-sharing has driven out an overpopulation of cars and resulted in more community-owned vehicles, and urban food farms have sprouted in place of disused parking lots.

And of course, to make us feel even more responsible for changing today’s dystopia to 2040’s utopia, father and director Gameau shamelessly uses a teenage actress to portray his daughter Velvet in these flash-forwards of the ideal world 21 years from now, where all the possibilities are innovative and hopeful.  

A visually-rich documentary using facts, frameworks, leading voices, children’s opinions, animation and most importantly, family, 2040 is an adequately inspiring tool for adults like us to recognise our accountability as guests of today’s world and purveyors of tomorrow’s future.

Gameau’s bid to disrupt the norm and lead a movement from within all our homes is a successful reminder of how a combined effort of small changes can make the biggest difference.

Catch 2040 at all major Australian cinemas and remember to visit whatsyour2040.com to begin a better future today.

Ashwini Saseedaran

Thanks for visiting Perth Underground! I’m Ash - a reading, writing, exploring woman who loves asking the most absurd questions at random times. I love Perth almost as much as I love my dog (which is a lot). My natural habitat is wrapped in a blanket, with an almond milk chai, a good book, sticky notes, jazz music and my Cavoodle curled up next to me. If you’ve got something weird, wacky and wonderful to share about Perth then I’m the girl who wants to tell it to the world so don’t forget to drop me a line!