In a deluge of apocalyptic movies and documentaries focused on the world’s environmental crisis, the French documentary Demain (Tomorrow) is a breath of fresh air.
During its private viewing in Alliance Française de Manille on May 15, 2017, organized by the D’Aboville Foundation (DAF), members of the press, World Wildlife Fund, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Embassy of France, came together not to assail the destruction of the world, but to celebrate the ways in which people all over the planet are trying to save it.
Demain remains to be relevant two years after its initial screening, and just a year ago, won the 2016 César Award for Best Documentary Film. It was also presented at the Semaine de la Critique at the Cannes Film Festival, and exceeded a million entries in France –– an impressive feat for a documentary film.
Next week, the documentary will also be shown at the 2017 Cannes Festival Positive Cinema Week, as selected by well-known French economic, social theorist, and founder of Positive Planet, Jacques Attali.
As of date, Demain has been distributed to 30 countries, and through DAF, has now reached the Philippines.
While it talks about man’s irresponsible consumption and the continuous rise of the planet’s water levels, as with all documentaries preceding it, Demain treats its audience as equal. It holds the planet’s deterioration as a known fact, and instead of being preachy, focuses on finding ways to turn things around. Until the end, it succeeds in instilling in the audience a sincere sense of hope.
“This movie shows agricultural solutions, green energy solutions, monetary and local economies solutions and civil society mobilization solutions. It shows that it is possible to reinvent, in every domains of our society,” Hubert d’Aboville, the founder of DAF, said in his speech.
Filmmakers Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion traveled across the globe not to look for problems but to look for solutions –– bike lanes in Copenhagen; mandated composting projects in San Franciso; an unorthodox but effective public school in Finland; citizen-made currency in Bristol; wind turbines in Iceland; and so on. As we get to know the individuals behind these projects, we are presented with a common denominator –– social responsibility does not start with grand schemes, but with a mere willingness to change things, to take matters into our own hands.
The documentary is divided into five chapters: Agriculture, Energy, Economy, Democracy, and Education. Everything is broken down into pieces that are easy to digest, and provides answers to questions that are so simple but undoubtedly important, that we don’t even find the time to ask: How is money created? How much food do we need?
But certainly, the most compelling part of the documentary can be found in the last three parts. More than going green, we can emancipate ourselves from the decade-old problems of economy, democracy, and education. Demain gives proof from all over the world that citizens, if empowered, are capable of rising above politics and corporate interests.
From an envelope factory in Lille that reinvests its profits instead of paying shareholders, to the people of Iceland who pioneered activism to stop political breakdown and drafted their own constitution, down to a pariah in India who successfully broke the unjust caste system in his community through representative democracy.
Ultimately, this refreshing take on the challenges we face in trying to keep our planet alive breathes new life on what it means to “save the world,” and what kind of future we hold for ourselves.
If we are willing to change things and take matters into our own hands, Demain shows that we can decide on what our tomorrows would be like.