Every once in a while there’s a film that will stick with you for a long time. “Dear Future Children”, Franz Böhm’s debut feature length documentary about three young activists from Chile, Hong Kong and Uganda certainly will have that effect on many and rightly so. This is an important film, that comes at a critical time. The doc tackles youth activism through the lens of young filmmakers on topics that concern us all, no matter your age or gender. Democracy, social injustice and climate change are at the core of what these young women and countless others, young and old are fighting for or against.
You may have read the news on Hong Kong’s extradition bill and the protests in 2019 and the passing of the bill that came into effect on July 1st 2020, the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China. Did you know that “on June 30, police commanders were told in a training session that anybody seen waving an independence flag or chanting for independence should be arrested, a police source said — as should anyone found in possession of independence flags” (source).
It is not surprising for the viewer that Pepper’s story ends in exile, as so many others, she had to leave Hong Kong and in the end she feels that it was “all for nothing”. Not for nothing. The world will – must – remember, esp. in the light of the end of the two systems in 2047, when the original agreement between the UK and China about “one country, two systems” expires.
The stories of these three young women are real, the way it is shown to us is as real as it gets. We are there with Pepper in Hong Kong, we are there with Rayen in Chile and with Hilda in Uganda. We follow them and we see and hear what they experience. That’s quintessentially what makes this documentary so powerful. The immediacy, the rawness, the honesty. In our interview with the director Franz Böhm, he indeed confirms that nothing was rehearsed or staged, nor does the viewer get that impression at any point. It’s not a commentary or interpretation, it’s what happened and keeps happening.
Rayen at one point stares at posters of the victims of the protests in Santiago and says: “I don’t want be the next face on this wall”. Many lost their lives, why did it have to come to that? At least now Chile will rewrite its constitution and there is hope that change for the better will come with it.
Still, lives have been lost, families destroyed and in the wake of the Pandora papers leak one cannot help but wonder, why it always has to end in bloodshed, before real change happens… don’t answer that. Just look back at the past 5000 years of humanity. If you are interested, I can recommend this book: “Sapiens: A brief history of humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.
Their struggle concerns us all and as Hilda says, “you may feel like your beds are comfortable now” and when teachers tell you that “climate change is God’s plan” and that “you can do nothing about it”, I think you will have a reaction to this when you watch. It should make you feel uncomfortable in your bed. It should also make you want to act now, so your future children actually have a comfortable bed on this planet…
Dear Future Children is telling the story of these three young women and the staggering personal impact of their political activism. It will be opening in theatres on Friday, October 15th and on VOD Friday, October 29th. The documentary is directed by Franz Böhm and won the Hot Docs Audience Award at Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, 2021.
Check out our interview with the director Franz Böhm here!