With a title like “Living in the Future’s Past,” one could easily be tricked into think it’s just another ecological documentary, slanted to tell only the story the filmmaker wants told and to cast blame at everyone in the audience.
That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.
If fact, “Living in the Future’s Past” director Susan Kucera said that a concerted effort was made to do exactly the opposite, and instead tell a more nuanced, thought-provoking story. The goal: say what needs to be said without pointing fingers or being heavy-handed.
"Living in the Future's Past" director Susan Kucera filming.
"I think most great documentaries share a certain intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness,” she said. “They document rather than preach and they are willing to follow the story wherever it leads.”
Where this story leads is down a path that provides insight from politicians, physicists, neuroscientists, psychologists, biochemists, and pretty much everyone in between … including producer and narrator Jeff Bridges.
Rather than focus solely on where we’re at as a world/planet/civilization and who’s done what wrong to lead us there (I say “solely” because that’s certainly a part of it, but not the entire thing), they instead look at relationships between man, beast, planet, science, nature, etc. and allow the viewers to answer the question of, “What kind of future would you like to see?” for themselves.
Creating the backdrop for this unique storytelling model, the film’s imagery is stunning and can also be credited to Kucera. In addition to her director’s hat, she also served as a producer on the film and is its cinematographer.
Susan Kucera capturing images for "Living in the Future's Past."
While the film has been in the works for a while, the imagery on display has been in the works for even longer. Some were shot specifically for this project, while others were collected over the years through her travels, including many shot in her own backyard.
As if top-notch visuals and a unique voice aren’t enough, “Living in the Future’s Past” has an advantage that not many other documentaries have – Jeff Bridges.
Bridges’ involvement in the film, Kucera said, wasn’t planned in advance. In fact, when they first approached him, his role was to be much more singular.
“We were looking for a narrator,” she said, noting that he looked at what they had and liked what he saw. “He said he would do it as long as he could also serve as a producer.”
Susan Kucera and Jeff Bridges, producers of "Living in the Future's Past."
That not only helped give the film its distinctive voice (literally), but it also attached a recognizable name to it – a name that’s known and respected in both Hollywood and humanitarian circles.
Adding that documentaries – this one included – don’t get much of a production budget, much less a huge marketing budget, Kucera said that Bridges’ involvement put the film in front of media outlets that most other documentaries don’t get the luxury of.
In addition, because of the educational aspect of it, the film is not only playing festivals and conferences, but schools are also expressing interest in showing it to students.
“Living in the Future’s Past” opened in select cities on October 5, with additional cities joining in for a one-night only national screening on October 9. Select cities will have additional screenings October 10-11. Find showtimes and tickets here.
An image from "Living in the Future's Past" shot by the film's director, Susan Kucera.