A still from the film 2040 featuring Byron Shire residents, filmmakers Zoe and Damon Gameau and their daughter Velvet.
A still from the film 2040 featuring Byron Shire residents, filmmakers Zoe and Damon Gameau and their daughter Velvet.

What sort of lives will we have in 2040?

After busting myths around healthy food and revealing one of our most dangerous modern addictions in his award-winning documentary That Sugar Film, Damon Gameau has set his sights on a much broader issue.

The Byron-based actor and filmmaker tackles the issues of climate change, population growth and sustainable living in his new film 2040.

The 92-minute film is an audiovisual letter from Gameau to his daughter, Velvet, who is about to start school, and a reflection about what life she will be living in the year 2040 - when Gameau will be 64.

The film is a hybrid feature; it shows what the world could be like in 2040 and goes looking for seeds of that possible future in today's world, while highlighting obstacles but also exposing potential solutions available now.

With growing reports of climate change distress in children overwhelmed by dire environmental projections and news reports, Gameau was conscious of presenting an optimistic vision.

"Many films, seminal films, have told us about the dire situation we currently find ourselves in. Spanning ecological disaster to cultural collapse, these films have raised awareness and created a groundswell of people desperate for change. But with more and more images of destruction and suffering filling our news feeds, this is the narrative we are showing our children and, sadly, these images overwhelm and paralyse us from taking action. I believe there is room for a new story, a story that focuses on the solutions,” he says.

A still from the film 2040 featuring Byron Shire filmmaker Damon Gameau and US scientist Brian Von Herzen of the Climate Foundation.
A still from the film 2040 featuring Byron Shire filmmaker Damon Gameau and US scientist Brian Von Herzen of the Climate Foundation.

"This film is not a utopian fantasy; it is an exercise in what I call 'fact-based dreaming'.

"What started out as a film about reversing global warming and lowering emissions quickly became a story about strengthening communities, improving the quality of food and soil, embracing cheaper and cleaner energy and transport, plus restoring habitats and ecosystems.”

Like That Sugar Film, 2040 is more than a film. The documentary is the first of a number of related projects.

"We are part of an organisation called Good Picture. They choose six films and put you in touch with a whole group of philanthropists,” he says.

"I had to pitch the idea of the film at the Opera House in Sydney a couple of years ago and basically people put up their hands to support the idea with an impact campaign, so they don't give you money for the film's production; they give you money to really develop tools off the back of the film.

"We've been able to develop a free lesson plan for Year 5 to Year 10 students in schools across the country.

"We have a website (whatsyour2040.com) which is like a portal that is going live next week that will allow people to make their own climate plan.

"We've teamed up with different organisations around the world (to work with) people who want to do something about the environment. They answer a series of questions and they get a personalised plan.

"This platform is also a hub for solutions and video content, so it will become almost like a media platform for more positive solutions-based content.”

The documentary isn't even in Australian cinemas yet, but it's already making waves around the world. 2040 has been selected by the United Nations to be screened at an international environmental meeting in New York in September.

2040 opens in cinemas on May 23.

STARS: Damon Gameau, Zoe Gameau, Eva Lazzaro, Davini Malcolm.

DIRECTOR: Damon Gameau

RATING: G

REVIEWER'S LAST WORD: Gameau offers some clever re-branding and positive language to soften the cynicism that environmental discussion brings out in most people.


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