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A 'powerful' documentary: Jess Barnard reviews 'DEAR FUTURE CHILDREN'

A 'powerful' documentary: Jess Barnard reviews 'DEAR FUTURE CHILDREN'

'A beacon of hope,': Chilean activist, Rayen | DEAR FUTURE CHILDREN

3 min read

An inspiring snapshot of the personal stories of three young activists fighting for change in Chile, Uganda and Hong Kong, Franz Böhm’s insightful film is an emotional watch

“Not raising our voices will risk our future.” This is the message from a generation with nothing left to lose. Dear future children is an inspiring snapshot of young people today, giving essential insight into the injustice and anger fueling young activists across the globe.

In the face of systems and leaders that have abandoned our generation, this documentary explores the journey of three young activists in Chile, Uganda, and Hong Kong. The young women guide us through their different lives, but uniting them is fear for their futures and the sense of personal sacrifice of their youth to fight for what they believe in. 

Hilda, a climate protester, struggles to navigate her role and responsibilities as the founder of “Fridays for Future” in Uganda, and presents us with the ugly parallels of the climate crisis. While some of the world's poorest people with the smallest climate impact are being told to change their ways to protect the planet, world leaders and the countries most responsible fail to act, time and time again. Hilda's frustration at our “talk and no action” is a timely reflection echoed by anyone who just witnessed COP26.

A beacon of hope is Rayen, a determined Chilean young working-class woman who has been inspired by her father and the conditions of the people around her to join protests for justice and put an end to inequality. Chileans, still reeling from years of the Pinochet dictatorship, continue to be subject to brutal security and military force, with 400 citizens suffering serious eye injuries, with many permanently blinded, in a single protest. Rayen tells us of the growing anger and unity among the people, and with 1.2 million Chileans joining the February 2019 protests, she rightly warns, “You cannot ignore the young people and the working class.”

The personal stories are powerful but the documentary falls short of providing any deeper meaningful discussion about the political issues

Tempting as it is to feel heartened to see young people fighting for change, this documentary painfully reminds us of the cost of activism and the brutality protesters can be treated with. “When they killed him, they killed half of my life,” the mother of Abel Acuna tells us through tears, her 29-year-old son killed while protesting in Chile, one of many young activists who have lost their lives.

The personal stories behind the activists are powerful and emotional viewing, but the documentary falls short of providing any deeper meaningful discussion about the political issues, at times relying on CNN clips to contextualise the stories of these countries and their struggles. For centuries, the world's wealthiest countries have colonised, backed dictatorship regimes, and directly caused the climate breakdown. The documentary shies away from providing this narrative, leaving it feeling like a missed opportunity to amplify the causes in the hearts of the activists and deliver a call to action.

It is crystal clear from these activists, and recent movements such as Black Lives Matter, that young people across the globe are taking to the streets to bring about the change they want to see. Violent oppression and increased police powers will not make young people (or their demands) go away – Dear Future Children is a testimony to that.

Jess Barnard is chair of Youth Labour

Dear Future Children is directed by Franz Böhm

Broadcaster: now showing in selected cinemas  – and also in 80 Odeon Cinemas on Tuesday 23 November for one night only


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