Monday, January 11, 2016

Demain de Cyril Dion et Mélanie Laurent

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Demain is an unlikely film and as a film, it’s nothing special. It’s a very conventional documentary with nothing memorable in its mode of address, and much of its subject matter will not be new to a lot viewers. But unusually, for a mainstream documentary playing at the UGC cinemas in Paris to full houses over the holidays, Demain has left me thinking and inspired.

While it critiques the governments, institutions and mechanisms that perpetuate the destruction of the planet, social crises, and economic alienation, the film is inspiring for its choice to offer solutions. Demain is a film about what we can do, rather than who we need to hate. The film is about so much more than the imperative to recycle and regenerate all of our own energy, waste, and lifestyle. In addition to the creative solutions of making our own money, creating economies that generate income for those who work within them, growing our own food, choosing green and sustainable lifestyles, Demain convinced me of the reason we don’t already. It’s in the interests of governments--particularly in America--to perpetuate the use of fossil fuels, battery fed chickens and, in Europe, to make donations of billions to Greece, rather than teaching them how to build a self sustaining economy. Perhaps Demain is idealist, but it showed me how the systems of food and energy and money and education are an extension of the alienation of capitalism as it has developed over the last century. The further we are from the source of production--whether it be energy, food, money or government--the less control we have over our own lives. Isn’t that interesting? The more ecologically friendly we live, the more choice we have in our lives. And it is only because we are told that malls and cars, money and tax regulations brings us freedom that we continue to choose the easy, unhealthy and detrimental to the environment options.

I was also interested to see that the communities that have adopted the measures suggested by the film are mostly not in the financially prosperous West. The exceptions were found in Basel, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries where governments make choices not based on the pressures of high unemployment, poverty and fluctuating currencies.  In Detroit and Brixton, Bristol and Todmorden in the UK, the investment in healthier, cleaner, greener communities, makes them low on the national interest list. As the film suggests, for other governments, the price of endorsing such changes would be politically and economically too high. This, in itself, makes me applaud Obama for his attempts to raise ecological awareness and reduce the world’s carbon footprint.

If you are interested in how all this is argued, that's a good reason to go and see the film. 

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