English filmmaker Jade Jackman travelled the world to capture 13 individuals, aged 15 to 25. They are part of Gen Z. They live in Cape Town, London, Singapore, Maryland, Rio De Janeiro, Canada, Mumbai and the UAE. They are a generation who are defined by their fluidity.The Future is Fluid is the product of one month of hectic work and travelling, a document of a specific moment in time across a generation, across the world. It’s just premiered at The Sundance Festival, in partnership with Chime for Change, an initiative by Gucci which is part charity, part vehicle for social change. This film marks a new chapter in the project, which was initially launched in 2013 with Beyonce and Salma Hayek. The charity’s future projects include everything from zines to films to supporting young female politicians in Hong Kong and Brazil and combating gender-based violence in Italy.
“Every person is created equal,” Gucci’s Alessandro Michele said about the project. “We all have the power to use our voices to stand up for what we believe in. The fearlessness of this generation to express themselves gives me hope that a future of freedom and equality is possible.”The film explores the concept of fluidity not only in its message but its structure too. It’s a hybrid between documentary, music video and fashion film. Fluidity is most obviously discussed around the themes of gender and sexuality, but it is also there in how the short film moves from studio shots to someone’s bedroom to a rugby field. Even the language is fluid, slipping between English, Portuguese, and Italian. At the film’s core are ideas of self-awareness, integrity, tolerance and, maybe most importantly, freedom. Freedom to love, the freedom to express and be yourself whichever way you see fit, the tolerance to accept and include others.In a world increasingly in conflict, with leaders promoting division, hate and fear, the message Gen Z are giving in this short film is that it doesn’t have to be that way. They offer a way out and show courage in being open to discuss new ways of being and living together. This can come at a high price, as the story of Gabe, a 23-year-old trans woman of colour living in Rio de Janeiro, shows. Gabe and her friends have been victims of homophobic violence, yet she has the courage “to carry on screaming my own story out loud”, as she puts it in the documentary.Coincidently, before my trip to Sundance I had been reading the work of Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who created the concept of liquidity to describe how he saw today’s society and its future -- a world where everything and everyone are in constant flux, from personal identity to work to relationships. His advice was that to thrive in a state of continuous change, one had to be willing to go with the flow, to be adaptable and comfortable everywhere in the world.Looking at the current state of world, you quickly see that the rise of right wing populism, conservatism, transphobia, homophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric draw their strength from rigidity and fear. Binary systems, intolerance and isolationism are our lived, political experience; they are not some distant dystopia. This same rigidity and fear led us to atrocities like slavery, the Holocaust, and religious wars.Fluidity, as expressed by the cast of Gen Z in this short film, is a philosophy which includes rather than excludes, it promotes awareness of the self, it expands the limits of what it means to be human. The message is one of love, respect, integrity and tolerance. Can we afford not to listen?