Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, June 24: MISCONCEPTION
Jessica Yu’s re-examination of myths around overpopulation debuted at Tribeca in 2014. Other fest berths have included IDFA, AFI Docs, Sedona, and Seattle’s Women in Cinema, among others.
Working from the findings of master statistician Hans Rosling, who has been debunking popular beliefs about out-of-control population growth at TED Talks and other forums for some time, Yu profiles three individuals in a microcosmic exploration of the theme, which ultimately rests on access to family planning and reproductive rights for women. Noting that 80% of the world demonstrates sustainable reproduction – essentially parents replacing themselves by having an average of two children – the film focuses on the other 20%: Cases where the population rate is too low, such as China and its once-longstanding one-child policy; or too high, in typically underdeveloped regions, where women still often bear a large number of children. After a teaser about governmental policies that incentivize couples to either procreate (in Russia) or to become sterilized (in India) – depending on population needs – Yu breaks her film into three discrete chapters. The first focuses on a Chinese man who is desperate to marry before he turns 30; the second, on a Canadian woman whose zealotry against abortion leads her to lobby developing nations to resist family planning policies; and the third, on a Ugandan journalist who profiles lost and abandoned children. Combined with often unnecessary narration from Kyra Sedgwick, this structure makes the project feel more suited to episodic broadcast than a fully-realized feature, despite the intriguing nature of Rosling’s data and the overarching subject matter.