The world premiere of Damon Gameau’s innovative documentary 2040 at the Berlin International Film Festival has elicited strong interest from international buyers and hugely positive responses from audiences.
The producers, Good Thing Productions’ Nick Batzias, Anna Kaplan and Virginia Whitwell, held off on doing pre-sales, figuring they would get better deals after the premiere in the Kplus section of the Generation program.
A three year self-described labour of love, 2040 takes the form of a visual letter from the filmmaker to his four-year-old daughter Velvet, showing her what the year 2040 could look like “if we simply embraced the best solutions that exist today.”
“We have had discussions with various platforms and distributors,” Gameau tells IF on the line from Berlin. “Platforms are very open to having event screenings because they understand people want that experience. We are talking to a heap of people. There are some good options out there, including Netflix, National Geographic and Apple TV, which has started to buy documentaries.”
Teenagers and young adults who belong to German climate action groups were especially enthusiastic about Gameau’s new approach to tackling the environmental crisis and asked lots of questions in a Q&A session.
The film cites numerous examples in the fields of renewable energy, transport and agriculture to show that sustainable living is possible. Animated sequences demonstrate his belief that harmful CO2 emissions can be slashed to create a more livable world.
“We are re-framing the story and putting forward solutions as a way to motivate action, rather than being negative,” he says.
“We are in a dire situation. Filmmakers have a large role to play in shining a light on these topics and portraying a different world which we could move into. We need a lot more filmmakers to do that if we are going to turn this mess around.”
Asked about the Morrison government’s failure to adopt a national energy or climate policy, he says: “It is disappointing, which is one reason why we are disillusioned with our leaders. They are the least authentic, the least noble and the least visionary.”
During the shoot he interviewed almost 100 children aged from 6-11 to find out what kind of world they would like to see in 2040, describing the responses as both inspiring and concerning.
In addition he consulted numerous experts in areas as diverse as farming, aquaculture, civic design, transport and education. What started out as a film about reversing global warming and lowering emissions evolved into a broader story about strengthening communities, improving the quality of food and soil, embracing cheaper and cleaner energy and transport, plus restoring habitats and eco systems.
“By doing these things, we will naturally heal the environment,” he says. He has not shown the film to his daughter and does not plan to until she is a few years older.
Madman Entertainment will release the doc on May 23 as part of a national tour of Q&A screenings, as happened with Gameau’s That Sugar Film. The key crew includes DOP Hugh Miller, editor Jane Usher, music Bryony Marks, production designers Luke Bubb and Carrie Kennedy and casting director Alison Telford.
Documentary producer Kim Ingles is joining Good Thing Productions to work as an associate impact producer for 12 months, mentored by Anna Kaplan, thanks to support from Film Victoria.