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The Latest Climate Change Documentary Tells A Positive Story. Here's Why That's Important.

22/04/2017 08:32

"Information was recently published announcing the potential demise of the human race."

The opening lines of recently-released documentary Tomorrow are bleak; citing the infamous study published in Nature several years ago, which spelled out our doom if we did not galvanise quickly to combat climate change.

Despite the sinister opening, Tomorrow, released nationwide on April 21, aims to set itself apart from other climate change documentaries, which present the problem - but offer no viable solutions.

The film is directed by Cyril Dion and actress Mélanie Laurent, and follows their journey around the world discovering small communities doing big things.

"We put on screenings to try to increase the word of mouth," Dion tells me. "We tried to get people into theatres because most of the time when people are in the theatre they feel hope afterwards and they want to share the feeling.

"It is really good to gather people in a room to experience the movie together because afterwards people talk to each other and see what they can do."

From urban farms in Detroit, USA, and growing roadside fruit in Todmorden, England, to lush permaculture systems in rural France and the touching pride of garbage workers in San Francisco who treat their rubbish as if it's gold, the film proves the power truly lies with the people.

The selling point of Tomorrow, is that its filmmakers don't know everything - they are just like us. All they know is they want to do something to make a difference. They are out to discover and to learn, and they take their audience on the journey with them.

"I have been an activist and I was fed up that the audience for these kind of films is always other activists," Dion explains. "We are just talking to each other. It took us nine months to edit the movie because we were very careful to make it interesting to everyone, not just activists.

"So many people started doing things after they saw the movie that we started a whole new section on the website called the Day after Tomorrow."

The film presents indisputable facts, such as the amount of money the San Francisco Hilton hotel saves by recycling, and how much one small packaging business made by investing in renewable energy and sustainable practices. So if the stories of prisons teaching inmates transferable employment skills such as installing solar panels and growing vegetables, or one town planting herbs, fruit and vegetables, which are free to pick as soon as they're ripe, in every single available green space, doesn't move you, then the narratives of financial success certainly will. After all, we all know how well money talks.

The film is slowly making its way around the world via independent theatres. Dion, who was present after the screening I attended in Los Angeles for a Q&A, explained his reasoning behind the bespoke screenings - he wanted to start a conversation.

"We screened the film in a town just outside Lyon in France. After the screening, people in the audience, who didn't know each other, congregated in the foyer to talk about what they could do. They wanted to meet up to discuss ideas. One guy said he lived 15 minutes away, and invited everyone to his flat on Saturday afternoon. I later found out 45 people turned up - and they had to separate into groups as they couldn't all fit in his living room. The next meeting there were 120 people, the meeting after that, 260 - and now there are around 300 people who belong to this group, who are working towards making a real change in their community."

The film had a visible effect on the LA audience I watched it with. Instead of asking Dion questions afterwards, audience members stood up and thanked him for bringing it to the city, and spoke about what they wanted to achieve when they left the theatre - and how it had already inspired them to start thinking about solutions.

The recurring narrative of Tomorrow is one of hope. And it's an important change in tone; the climate change discussion is overwhelming, and quite frankly, terrifying. And it's all too tempting to bury your head in the sand when it comes to taking action. Hopefully this film will inspire people to take action - and make the changes governments and big businesses are too afraid, or too profit-driven, to make.

To find out more about how you can bring Tomorrow to a screening theatre near you, click here.

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