- James Mottram
- 11 November 2019
Damon Gameau directs and stars in this hopeful documentary about creating a brighter future
No, this is not a prequel to Wong Kar-wai's 2046. Rather, with 2040, Australian actor-turned-director Damon Gameau delivers a hopeful documentary about a subject that has grown increasingly worrying these past few years: the health of the planet. The date in question – just 21 years away – is when his daughter Zoë will turn 25. And, like any parent, Gameau is concerned about the state of the world she will inherit.
Led by An Inconvenient Truth and The 11th Hour, most eco docs have understandably been full of doom-laden prophecies. But Gameau, who previously gave us 2014's That Sugar Film, tries a different tack, imagining a future where science has saved mankind. This isn't total fantasy either, with the writer-director-presenter focusing on existing tech designed to ease the burden the population has put on Earth.
With its globetrotting structure, the film takes Gameau all over – and some of his discoveries are certainly eye-opening. In Bangladesh, for example, there is a network that shares its solar-powered energy between homes hooked up to the grid. Brilliant idea. As is the use of seaweed to absorb dangerous carbon emissions, a technique being developed off the East Coast of America. Innovations like this, even if still in their infancy, leave you with hope.
While there is a certain naïve quality to 2040, it would make for a marvellous teaching aid. Gameau uses colourful, attention-grabbing visuals that will surely go down well in the classroom and may even merit school trips to the cinema. But, whether adults will consider this worthy of their time is another matter; Gameau is a charming-enough host, though lacks the gravitas of someone like David Attenborough. Still, a positive voice like his deserves to be heard.
General release from Fri 15 Nov.