Many parents wonder what kind of world their children will inherit. The question played on filmmaker Damon Gameau’s mind so he did a deep dive. The result is “2040,” a relentlessly upbeat documentary about what a sustainable, environmentally aware world would look like in twenty years when his daughter Velvet will be 25 years old.
Crew in tow, Gameau heads off for a worldwide trip to study how various countries are utilizing already existing technology to combat climate change. But instead of heading out with a head full of thunder, he brings a tone we don’t often hear in the enviro discussion, optimism.
Using inventive talking head interviews mixed with cute kids, animation, humour and CGI recreations, he’s looking for answers to difficult questions surrounding the mass assembly of cars, the over-harvesting of land, beef production and other hot button topics. An exercise in what he calls, “fact-based dreaming,” the idea is simple, What would happen if we used already existing technologies and systems to improve the planet? It’s a question designed to inspire, not alarm the viewer. He uses real life examples of these technologies at work—i.e., a micro-grid solar-power sharing in Bangladesh—to show the world of possibilities that exist on the planet.
Gameau is an entertaining host in the mold of Michael Moore, a documentarian who is also part comedian. He’s the spoonful of sugar that keeps the movie’s scientific information at eye level. He’s an amiable presence, although an erotic yoga scene feels out of place and even inappropriate.
“2040” is clear, simple and uplifting in its message and even supplies a hopeful, dramatized glimpse at what the world could look like when Velvet (played by Eva Lazzaro) is an adult. That Utopian vision of the future is all the more interesting in that it is based in technologies and systems that already exist.