When the topic of climate change comes up, people are either armed with the latest damning statistics, ready to deny its existence, or caught somewhere in the middle between acknowledging the need for action and mustering up the energy to do anything themselves.
Co-directors Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent are gunning for that last category with their documentary Tomorrow.
After gaining significant traction upon its release in France two years ago, selling more than one million movie tickets and winning the 2016 César Award for best documentary, Tomorrow has come stateside with a new approach for addressing climate change and the apathy that comes with it. Instead of relying on the scare tactics of natural disasters, Tomorrow relentlessly digs past the surface of climate change into agriculture, energy, the economy, democracy, and education, threading it all together to show that because of the complexities of the problems at hand, there are no immediate solutions, just a guiding point toward reevaluating decisions.
“I’ve been an activist for the last 10 years and I co-founded an ecological movement in 2006. For years I had the feeling that we couldn’t really mobilize people in the right way because we were asking them to quit many things, like to quit eating meat, quit taking baths, and so on. It was not really efficient to make them move and act,” Dion says. “I wanted to show that everything is connected and that we cannot address, for example, the problem of agriculture without thinking about energy. I wanted to explore these connections and also as a way to build the story because I didn’t want the movie to be a catalog of solutions one after another—I wanted the movie to be really pedagogical.”
Dion credits two things that set Tomorrow into motion: a terrifying study in the journal Nature that dated the extinction of mankind to occur before the end of the 21st century, and environmentalist George Marshall’s book Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate.
“He’s explaining that when we hear terrible news and something bigger than us, the brain is just trying to defend itself by refusing the news and diving into denial,” Dion says. “I had the feeling that we needed some new vision for the future something that could emphasize the creativity and the energy of people. And if we could put it together in a new story for the future, maybe that would be more efficient than only showing the catastrophes.”
Dion and his crew traveled across the world to spotlight ideas like urban farming, permaculture, and community currency that, if applied on a broader scale, could provide the world with a better framework for actual progress. Tomorrow debuting in the U.S. feels prescient given the Trump Administration’s seemingly steadfast desire to torpedo the Environmental Protection Agency and Obama’s legacy in fighting climate change. Much like the impact Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth had in raising awareness of the dire state of global warming, Dion is aiming for Tomorrow to spark a movement, starting at the absolute ground level.
“We need to start something where we live, in our neighborhood, in our day-to-day lives, in our jobs, just to try to be able to take back some power in our world and on our destiny,” Dion says. “That’s the reason why I think we need a a big vision, like something that we can follow and try to figure out how we can implement something here and now.”
Learn more about Tomorrow and its initiatives here.