At the beginning of "Tomorrow," a new environmental documentary by French filmmakers Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion, the message seems incredibly alarmist. The filmmakers bring in a pair of scientists who say that we have 20 years to start turning things around when it comes to climate change or else the world will face another extinction-level event. However once they're finished explaining the stakes, the rest of the film's running time is spent seeking solutions in a genuinely helpful way. Most documentaries focus on important questions, allowing the audience to seek out the answers, but "Tomorrow" exists to give its viewers choices about their future instead of frightening them into change.
The film is broken down into five chapters, set in a number of global locations.
Chapter One: Agriculture
Detroit, Mich, has quickly begun working toward becoming a food sovereign city, with 1,600 urban farms located throughout the metropolis. On average, food travels 1,500 miles from where it's grown to where it's consumed, which continues the cycle of massive amounts of carbon emissions. Cities across the globe have begun committing to growing most of their own food locally. There are still 6,000 acres of wasteland in Detroit that farmers are looking at for more urban farms.
Chapter Two: Energy
In this section the film asks if we could realistically exist without oil and focuses on how countries around the world have found innovative ways to use renewable energy such as wind, water and solar power. The water cycle of the Earth is changing because of global emissions, so cities including Copenhagen have switched to burning biomass instead of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, 67 percent of the population of Copenhagen lives without an automobile. The local government focuses on creating infrastructure that promotes walking and biking. By 2025, the city will be entirely self-sufficient in regard to clean energy.
Chapter 3: Economy
This section introduces the idea of Ecolonomy: saving money while staying green, re-localizing economies and treating currencies like ecosystems that need diversity. Monetary monocultures have caused 208 financial crises since 1970, according to the film, positing that when the primary function of a business or corporation is serving shareholders, the business will never focus on existing inside of its environment in a way that isn't disruptive.
Chapter Four: Democracy
Iceland's people protested so tirelessly against their financial institutions and corrupt government practices that the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet resigned, proving that a real and functioning democracy is something that can still exist in this world. That November, 25 citizens were elected to write a new constitution. Their main theme: "How can we make our representatives responsible for what they do and how can we keep our government transparent?"
Chapter Five: Education
This section looks at Finland as a bastion for education. The country puts so much effort into making sure education is a priority that it makes the American education system look profoundly depressing. Their systems teach children how to learn so they can become more autonomous and free thinking.
"Tomorrow" is unlike any documentary I've ever seen. The entire film can be summed up in the idea that we're all in this together. As soon as an environment, whether it be financial, biological or agricultural, stops working within its constraints, then it is doomed to fail. We're all in this together, whether we like it or not, so maybe it's time we finally act like it.
Dir. Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion