On Monday, a screening of the César award-winning documentary “Tomorrow” was held at Stanford and introduced by filmmaker Cyril Dion. Dion explained that his film, co-directed with actress Melanie Laurent, has roots at Stanford.

The inspiration for the documentary, which follows Dion and Laurent on a journey around the world, highlighting grassroots efforts that local communities are implementing to respond to environmental change, was a 2012 paper in the journal Nature co-authored by Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve directors Tony Barnosky and Elizabeth Hadly. The scientists are featured in the opening of the film discussing their finding that if changes are not made to the world’s predominant way of life, the planet is approaching a “tipping point” after which unalterable changes to climate and biodiversity will be experienced at a scale unprecedented in human history.

"What I saw on this journey is that human beings are really capable of the worst, but also really capable of the best." said Dion on what he learned traveling the globe looking for local solutions. 

Following the film, which received a standing ovation by around 300 attendees, Dion joined a panel including Barnosky, who is also Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, Nicole Ardoin, Professor of Education at Stanford, and special guest Robert Reed from Recology in San Francisco who was also featured in the film. Hadly, also a Professor of Biology at Stanford, moderated the discussion which centered largely around the world’s food system and the need for sustainable modifications to production. Questions for the panelists were sent via Twitter at #TomorrowSU.

“If all of the farmland that is devoted to feeding cows were devoted to growing crops, food production would increase by 50 percent” said Barnosky during a discussion about how eating meat impacts global food security. "One thing you can do is eat less meat and it pains me to say that because my dad was a butcher."

“I know documentaries are meant to connect with people but I had no idea how much I would connect with this one,” said Kira Smiley, an Earth Systems undergraduate and member of Students for a Sustainable Stanford.

The film involves five chapters, including agriculture, energy, economy, democracy, and lastly, education. The portion on education looked at Finland’s innovative approach to teaching without a focus on standardized testing or long school days.

“As a Finnish citizen and someone who has studied food systems, works with environmental education, and is part of an interdisciplinary environment-related major at Stanford, Cyril's film spoke to me on many levels,” said Smiley ’17.

The film has been shown at the Paris climate talks and other major events around the world. The screening at Stanford saw many members of the Palo Alto community, which helped highlight the film’s message of community and inclusion.

“It was inspiring for me to see science—especially science produced so close to home—translate into direct passion and action,” said Emma Fisher ‘17, also an Earth Systems major and member of Students for a Sustainable Stanford. “The film was captivating because it went beyond what I have come to expect from ‘climate change movies.’” 

Overall, the film promotes a hopeful message that ordinary people can effect real change.

“Stop being a slave of the system. Start to be here on this planet for a reason,” said Dion on what a difference an individual can make to environmental causes.

The screening of “Tomorrow” was sponsored by Students for a Sustainable Stanford, the Department of Biology, the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Camera As Witness (CaW), the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Vice President for the Arts, and Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

See recent reviews in The New York Times & The Los Angeles Times.