• Interviews

Documentary Filmmaker Damon Gameau Focuses on “Regenerating Australia”

In 2019, Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau produced the acclaimed documentary, 2040, structured as a visual letter to his then-four-year-old daughter Velvet to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us.

As Earth Day 2022 approaches, Gameau will be returning to the Gold Coast Film Festival in Queensland – where 2040 premiered – to introduce his new 17-minute short film, Regenerating Australia. Set on New Year’s Eve, 2029, a news anchor is looking back at the decade that could be if Australia transitions to a fairer, cleaner more community-focused economy. We see what a high-speed rail network connecting regional areas and cities would look like, what large scale wind, solar, battery, and hydrogen projects would do for hundreds of thousands of employees, and we look at the impacts of landscapes coming to life when regenerative agriculture and reforestation programs combine with Indigenous knowledge and fire ecology to bring more people back onto the land.



The film is presented by WWF-Australia, the country’s leading conservation organization, and their ‘Innovate to Regenerate’ funding challenge will invite local communities and experts to establish regenerative projects and provide $2 million in seed funding to collaborate with investors and donors to help the best ideas get off the ground.

Now the father of two daughters, the award-winning writer/director of That Sugar Film and 2040 talks about what he thinks is achievable.

Three years ago, you presented a very hopeful look at the future in 2040. So far, how’s it going?

Unfortunately, since then, our biggest economies have subsidized about $3.5 trillion in fossil fuel expansion so it’s extraordinary we’ve just gone directly the opposite way.

What kind of response did you receive from 2040?

We knew it was an experiment at the time to see if we could use that more hopeful narrative to try and motivate people into action. We managed to raise over a million dollars to build a seaweed platform in Tasmania, which is underway. We’ve helped about 550 farmers to move into more regenerative soil practices because they saw the film, and we had 55,000 teachers download the curriculum material to almost two million kids across Australia.

Why do you think 2040 had such an impact?

I think with everything that’s going on in the world right now, people just need solutions. They need hope. They need to see the possibilities and not just get lost in this nihilism of, ‘it’s all too hard.’ 2040 has a life of its own now, on streaming platforms and iTunes all over the world and the link to the website offers in-depth explanations of those solutions and ways that people can take action. We are giving no one an excuse not to get involved.

Why is it so difficult to help the planet if the solutions already exist?

There’s this huge industrial economy we’ve created over the last 300 years and so many policies to protect the incumbent system. People are making huge amounts of money in the status quo so they don’t want to give up that power, but governments can do it if they really want to. I’m optimistic we are going to see rapid change very quickly, especially as the weather events just get worse and worse. We’re seeing all these tornado events in America and more floods in Australia and the Antarctic is warmer than normal, so I do think the weather is going to nudge a huge amount of the population to demand change in the next decade.



What do you see as the role of filmmakers in this mission?

My film is more a reaction to the ones that I was seeing with more apocalyptic, scary feelings. I kept disengaging and switching off. The solutions narrative is hopelessly underrepresented in the film industry. People care but they don’t know what to do and that’s where storytellers are important. It’s an emotional moment to watch my films and imagine what it would be like to live in that world of solutions. If it becomes more tangible, then you want to strive for it.

And apocalyptic films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Dune are not depicting a future we want to live in?

It’s crazy because we’re so saturated with that content that it’s a big ask to then try and get people to spend 90 minutes after a busy day at work to watch a film about horrific fires and animal loss and coral bleaching. But if you can say, ‘there are solutions here that will make your life fundamentally better and healthier and bring vitality to your community. Why don’t you come and check it out,’ then I think we’ve got a better chance of inviting everyone into that space.

What would be one thing you’d suggest for anyone reading this who wants to contribute to positive change in the world?

It’s different for everyone. If you go to the 2040 website, there’s a button that says, ‘activate your plan’ and we ask you some questions about who you are and what your interests are and where your passions align and what kind of work you do and how much time you have. And then we come up with five or 10 different things you could do, based on your personal preferences, because then you’re more likely to see it through. Our next platform launching soon will be called Regenerators, with a beautiful video featuring Jeff Bridges and a lot of other people committed to this regeneration movement.



Regenerating Australia focuses on the top five solutions heard throughout their listening campaign:

  • Valuing, amplifying, and adhering to First Nations knowledge
  • Decentralized decision-making with more community involvement
  • Regional investment that creates local jobs and economic activity
  • Community-led clean energy projects and localized food systems
  • Regenerative farming and land management practices.

For more information on how to be part of the solutions featured in 2040 and Regenerating Australia, go to: