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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Tomorrow – hopeful documentary about how to save the planet

Inspired by a scientific report announcing the possible extinction of humans this century, filmmakers portray grassroots sustainability initiatives that, with sufficient resolve, can be replicated elsewhere

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 7:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 10:50am

3.5/5 stars

A film crew go on a global quest for solutions to save the planet in Tomorrow, an intellectually stirring French documentary that has enjoyed surprising box-office success in its native country. While it is hard to overstate the widespread pessimism currently plaguing France, audiences from any culture should be able to learn from some of the potentially world-changing ideas paraded in this informative feature.

Co-directed by Cyril Dion and the popular French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, By the Sea ), who were shaken into action by a report in the journal Nature announcing the possible extinction of humans before the end of this century, the film scours the world for projects that inspire changes from the grass roots and offer sustainable alternatives to the current systems.

Ostensibly a reaction to climate change, this best documentary winner at 2016’s Cesar Awards begins with a chapter on agriculture, citing urban agriculture as a saving grace for the American city of Detroit. From there, the documentary goes in unexpected directions with its four subsequent chapters, focusing on pioneering initiatives respectively in the loosely connected realms of energy, economy, democracy and education.

Dion and Laurent travel wide and far for the unusual success stories, going from Totnes in southwest England (the Transition movement), to Todmorden in northern England (the Incredible Edible movement) and Bristol in the west of England (the Bristol Pound), and on to far-flung regions in France (a permaculture project), Finland (unconventional educational system), Iceland (the Kitchenware Revolution) and India (participative democracy).

Accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack by the Swedish singer-songwriter Fredrika Stahl, Tomorrow offers hope in the form of ecological, social and economic measures that are already working wonders in various parts of the world. Although many of these models would take great resolve to replicate, the implied message is clear: if we take action now, the world is not completely doomed yet.

Tomorrow opens on July 28

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