2040 FilmReview

This flash documentary attracted my attention as it explicitly describes itself as focussing on regeneration rather than conservation, protection, sustainability etc. That is it overcomes the two main principles of dominant environmental narratives; assuming people are by default exploitative and that the living environment or ‘resources’ are zero-sum and finite.

Regenerative agriculture and agroforestry have slowly been gathered momentum, but applying a regenerative approach to not only the nonhuman living environment, but electricity distribution, economics, transport etc is less common. This documentary goes there with the recognition that we need to not only enrich nonhuman life but also ourselves and our societies.

The documentary never explicitly says we need to get rid of capitalism, neoliberalism or demands political system change. Instead, it indicates this more subtly, even a quick cutaway to the word ‘degrowth’ momentarily appears. This should be no surprise as the examples explored are from around the world but the heart of the documentary is properly Aussie as is its director. And the regenerative focus is born out of the permaculture movement with its Aussie roots. The permaculture movement being one of the most experimentally engaged, productive and future facing ways of engaging the living environment, but lacking explicit political teeth.

From this standpoint the documentary will work for many, and that is good and perhaps good enough. If you are not a multispecies ethnographer, regenerative expert, but interested in healthy futures you should definitely see this or organise a community screening.

Its not quite a documentary for me, however, as it is sort of undecided about whether to own it politics and face power. Perhaps this is why I feel it somehow lacks a punchiness and grit, in doing so relying on being carried by the Aussie enthusiasm of its presenter meeting people doing great work but interviewed in a ‘talky head’ way.

That said, this film is meant to be accompanied with community screening and organising suggesting, if this is being consciously done, the potential for community building not dichotomised as for or against the system or inside or outside the system. If that is the case, very interesting.

But coming back to my own interests, and these points aside, it does not grasp the alterity of life as seen beyond a modernist (darwinian, dualist, atomistic, anthropocentric) gaze.

A rich more-than-human perspective, alongside some other things, will inform the required fundamental system change. I think the director knows this, but first offers this taster of regeneration that can appeal to a mass consumer audience.

What he does not know how to do (although dies indicate and signal it), however, is that archaeological, historical, pluralistic and indigenous perspectives need not be primitivist (I guess he is wisely trying to avoid neoprimitivism), but are fundamental to realising the future the director seeks. In sum, this would mean it would then deal with the messy spaghetti of reality towards realising a better future for all. Grasping that through film would be an real test for a film maker.

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