INVENTING TOMORROW gets 7/10 Bright future

Directed by Laura Nix


If you’ve got a cynical view on the youth of today, or you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, this documentary may burst your pessimistic bubble. As Inventing Tomorrow shows, there are extremely talented and clever people working on how to reduce the damage done to the planet we live on – and they’re only teenagers! Imagine how talented and clever they’ll be when they’re older.

Inventing Tomorrow sets its sights on six teenagers from India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Hawaii as they prepare their presentations for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where the brightest teenage students go to present their projects, inventions, and innovations. The teens shown here are researching ways of reducing environmental issues that are significant to their particular part of the world.

These clever young scientists-in-the-making examine contaminated lakes, dig up troublesome dirt in parks, and inspect waste management on illegal mining boats, gathering information and solutions for environmental disaster to present amongst 1800 finalists from 75 countries for the top gong award.

Keeping a keen eye on these teens at work, they certainly subvert the stereotype of this age group, showing them not to be lazy, self-obsessed social media addicts, but instead as a bunch of bright young minds dedicated to their scientific and philanthropic enquiry. This documentary never dumbs itself down enough for the audience, instead forcing them to keep up with the scientific jargon (you’ll at least pick up on the relative gist).

There is little to complain about here, even the understated nature of this documentary feels appropriate, as it gives more room for the substance of these students’ works, rather than any miscellaneous drama that may revolve around them (which there’s little of).

The only major fault is this documentary lacks a cinematic quality, with hardly any moments feeling more than televisual (or even outside of an online documentary quality), despite the insistence on lots of shallow lens work to capture the faces of the students. The one striking image here is of the foam building up in the Indian creek, which then blows out into the busy city of vehicles and pedestrians, who act only slightly perturbed.

Inventing Tomorrow may seem limited in its appeal, but it will endure throughout time as an essential documentary about the plight of young activists trying diligently to amend the world’s environmental issues. Seeing how the parents and grandparents react to the success of these prodigies, whether or not they win anything at this science fair, shows a much unseen side of the enthusiasm and optimism of young folks and their families around the globe.


Inventing Tomorrow plays at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, March 19 to Sunday, March 24, 7:30pm, and at UWA Somerville from Monday, March 25 to Sunday,  March 31, 7:30pm.

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