Review: Timely doc ‘Misconception’ crunches the numbers on global population growth

Journalist Gladys Kalibbala and a Ugandan child in Jessica Yu’s documentary “Misconception.”
(Nathan Golon / Participant media)

The timely, well-made documentary “Misconception” takes a three-pronged look at contemporary population growth and the real-world results of several complex issues surrounding the topic. 

Although the facts here may speak for themselves — 80% of the world’s nations now average two children per couple; Earth’s population may reach more than 9 billion by 2050 — director-producer-editor Jessica Yu effectively examines the varying impact of these and other attendant realities based upon one’s beliefs, traditions and socioeconomic situations. 

For the record:
4:55 PM, Jun. 23, 2016 An earlier version of this review misspelled statistician Hans Rosling’s last name as Roling.

The film is divided into three chapters. In the first, a Chinese man nearing 30 searches for a suitable wife in a nation whose one-child policy, which began in the late 1970s and ended at the start of 2016, unexpectedly caused a deficit of about 30 million girls. Part two follows Canadian antiabortion  activist Denise Mountenay as she addresses the United Nations on behalf of her deep-rooted cause.

The third and most potent chapter spotlights Gladys Kalibbala, a heroic Ugandan journalist exploring the vast numbers of lost, abandoned or misplaced children in a populous country with the world’s third-highest birthrate. This last section serves as a kind of “in-the-trenches” rebuttal to Mountenay’s more ideologically-based campaign.


The segments are tied together by interview and lecture bits with Swedish professor and statistician Hans Rosling who offers droll, unvarnished thoughts on global population trends.

“Misconception” proves a smart, vital and absorbing portrait.




In English, Mandarin, Hindi and Russian with English subtitles 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including some sexual references

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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