It’s easy to become depressed about the state of the environment these days. Between constant headlines about the effects of global warming and an administration in the US that seems to be on a quest to roll back all environmental regulations, it’s not an encouraging scenario. INVENTING TOMORROW, the new documentary from Laura Nix is an antidote to that gloom or at least a ray of hope.
Centered around the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) INVENTING TOMORROW follows four groups from different parts of the world. All of them have solutions for pollution issues that affect the areas they live in.
Shofi Latifa Nuha Anfaresi are from the island of Bangka in Indonesia. Along with Intan Utami Putri (who was unable to attend the due to college entrance interviews) they have a plan to filter out the toxins from offshore dredge mining. Toxins that are killing off the fish other islanders rely on.
Fernando Miguel Sanchez Villalobos, Jesus Alfonso Martinez Aranda and Jose Manuel Elizade Esparaza have come from Monterrey Mexico with what might be the most ambitious project. A paint that can absorb air pollutants.
Bangalore India was once known as “The City of 1,000 Lakes” now there are less than 100, most of them badly polluted. Sahithi Pingali has turned to crowdsourcing to track and hopefully revert the damage in the remaining lakes. Something that must be done if the city itself is to remain viable.
Jared Goodwin from Hilo Hawaii is tracking the distribution of debris and pollutants from tsunamis. He does this by measuring arsenic levels in local ponds and the rate it leeches into the soil.
Nix begins the film with a look at the contestants on their home grounds. We get to meet them and see first hand the problems they’re trying to combat. Then we get to see them at the contest, pitching their projects to the judges. One thing that really comes through is that it doesn’t matter where the kids are from is just how much in common they have. From two Muslim girls, (complete with headscarves) quoting Taylor Swift to the Mexican boys worrying about the impression they’ll make on girls from other countries, teens will be teens.
The completion segment of the film has an interesting feel to it. It is about who will win and who will lose, but it doesn’t have a strong winners and losers feel despite the stakes. It feels more like a celebration of what is being accomplished, You’ll probably have picked a favorite and be hoping they win but it’s not an us vs them kind of feeling.
INVENTING TOMORROW is an entertaining and informative film that arrives in selected theaters August 31st.