Meet passionate teenage innovators from around the globe who are creating cutting-edge solutions to confront the world’s environmental threats


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​RECOMMENDED ★★★ - Video Librarian | OFFICIAL SELECTION - Sundance Film Festival | Peabody Award Winner

Environmental Studies • Science & Engineering • Sustainability Studies • Youth • Leadership

Date of Completion: 2018 | Run Time: 55 & 87 minutes​​ | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript Director & Producer: Laura Nix | Producers: Diane Becker & Melanie Miller

INVENTING TOMORROW follows young scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India, and Mexico as they tackle some of the most complex environmental issues facing humanity today – right in their own backyards. Each student is preparing original scientific research that he or she will defend at ISEF, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Framed against the backdrop of the severe environmental threats we now face, we immerse the audience in a global view of the planetary crisis, through the eyes of the generation that will be affected by it most.

Considered the Olympics of high school science fairs, ISEF is the largest gathering of high school scientists in the world, attracting approximately 1,800 finalists from over 75 countries, regions, and territories. All the finalists want to do a good job, but the heart of the story isn’t about whether they go home with an award. As they take water samples from contaminated lakes, dig up the dirt in public parks, board illegal pirate mining ships, and test their experiments in a lab, we see each student display a tenacious curiosity, and a determination to build a better future. Motivated by the desire to protect their homes, these young people are asking questions about the issues they observe in their communities and proposing innovative solutions to fix them.​

NPR Reviewed by Andrew Lapin
"Watching Inventing Tomorrow, we are reminded of just how vast and layered our current environmental crisis is, and how many different ways our diligence will be needed in the years ahead. But we are also reminded that crisis is a wonderful motivator, and when combined with youthful energy, maybe we can have permission to believe in tomorrow once again." 

Video Librarian ★★★
K. Fennessy
"The underlying subtext here is clear: the future scientists who will be most likely to save the environment need a supportive family, access to college-level resources, and events like ISEF to help bring their ideas to fruition. Recommended."

Booklist | Reviewed by Candace Smith
"This is more than just the story of a science fair. This is the Olympics of science fairs, the Intel international Science and Engineering Fair, which attracts teens from over 75 countries. Four groups are highlighted, each with a project of global importance. Teens from Indonesia are searching for a way to separate tin from sand that makes the process easier on the environment; a boy from Hawaii is looking for arsenic in soil samples. A teenage girl from India is designing an app to make water samples easier to test. A group of boys from Mexico are experimenting with a device that will clean polluted air. Students are filmed in their home countries at work as they collect data and formulate their projects. Later the scene shifts to the fair where they defend their work to judges. Their enthusiasm, as well as their incredible results, will surely inspire teens contemplating their own projects." 

Los Angeles Times Reviewed by Robert Abele
"Inventing Tomorrow may have gathered its stories of bright, problem-solving teenagers around the world from the fact that they entered the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, but that does not make it your typical contest documentary. The competition is beside the point in Laura Nix’s inspiring film because she’s interested in showcasing a specific type of high school entrant: those who see an environmental threat in their backyard and are driven to fix it with science."

Education Week Reviewed by Mark Walsh
"The film turned out to be one of the most engaging and entertaining education documentaries I have seen in a while." 

The New York Times Reviewed by Glenn Kenny
"It’s commendable that someone has tried to make a film about hope, and not pie-in-the-sky hope, either. 'Inventing Tomorrow' takes a personal look at some scientists — not of the accredited adult variety but teenagers, international students working on projects to make things better. They are 'the people who can fix it, and who are going to fix it.'"

Peabody Award Winner 2019
Grand Jury Award
Seattle International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Documentary Competition | Nashville Film Festival
World Premiere | Sundance Film Festival
International Premiere | CPH:DOX
Canadian Premiere | Hot Docs
Official Selection | AFI Docs
Official Selection | One Earth Film Festival

Laura Nix’s latest film, INVENTING TOMORROW, follows young scientists from Indonesia, Hawaii, India and Mexico as they tackle some of the most complex environmental issues facing humanity today. Framed against the backdrop of the severe environmental threats we now face, we immerse the audience in a global view of the planetary crisis, through the eyes of the generation that will be affected by it most. Laura was nominated for an Academy Award for her short film WALK RUN CHA-CHA, streaming on New York Times Op-Docs. She is a Chicken and Egg Breakthrough Filmmaker Award winner in 2018, and was awarded the Sundance Institute/Discovery Impact Fellowship in 2017. She previously directed THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING, (Toronto Film Festival 2014, Berlinale 2015), which was theatrically released and broadcast in the US and abroad. Her film THE LIGHT IN HER EYES (IDFA 2011) was broadcast on the PBS series POV, and toured the world as part of Sundance's Film Forward program. Other feature directing credits include her comedic melodrama THE POLITICS OF FUR, which played in over 70 festivals internationally and won multiple awards including the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest. Her films have been favorably reviewed in publications such as the New York Times, Variety, Indiewire and Time Out London. Nix has broadcast her work through various outlets including New York Times Op-Docs, and on television via Al Jazeera Arabic, PBS, HBO, Arte, ZDF, VPRO, CBC, NHK, Canal+, and IFC. She is currently is a film expert for the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase, as well as a member of the Academy of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.