There's a conventional wisdom about population growth that sees the future of humanity as a cauldron of despair, poverty, and constant war over depleted natural resources. That may indeed be our future, but acclaimed documentarian Jessica Yu makes a compelling argument that overpopulation won't be the cause of humanity's downfall in her film Misconception.

Framing the movie with the compelling discourse of Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling, Yu tells tells three disparate stories involving reproduction.

There's a droll tale of woe involving Bao Jianxin, a 29-year-old Beijing bachelor whose country's strict one-child policy, along with the culture's devaluation of girls, has left single men with few options in finding a mate. Yu follows the unrealistically picky Bao on his quixotic quest for the perfect woman.

Yu then focuses on a small-town Canadian activist, Denise Mountenay, on the eve of her trip to New York to speak at the United Nations. Denise is a faith-based activist, who decries the use of birth control and abortion in other countries. It's eventually revealed that her own past, involving multiple abortions and drug addiction, fuels her passion for her cause. Yu treats her fairly, and shows that she means well, but as Denise proselytizes to everyone she encounters, patronizingly telling every Chinese person she meets that she "loves China," for example, before haranguing them about their country's reproductive policies, it becomes more and more clear that her personal beliefs stem from a very privileged perspective, and are not relevant in the larger world.

Denise's tunnel vision is thrown into sharp relief by the third and most moving segment of the documentary, which tells the tale of Ugandan journalist Gladys Kalibbala. Gladys uses her column to help find the parents of abandoned and lost children. She's a genuinely heroic figure, engaged in a daily struggle to help the most vulnerable people in her community. As she deals with the unwanted children of impossible circumstances, the enormity of the problem she faces makes Denise's efforts seem all the more misguided, even enraging. Gladys sees first-hand the need that Rosling expresses for women to be empowered over their own reproductive lives, while Denise's faith-based efforts enable those who would deprive women of agency, leading to more unwanted children and more poverty.

As Yu has shown with fascinating work like In the Realms of the Unreal, and the brilliantly conceived, underseen Protagonist, she's a cerebral filmmaker, but one who brings a unique and cinematic perspective to her subject matter. Misconception uses these three engaging stories, clever animation, and Rosling's intellectual insight to convey the true nature of the threat of overpopulation, but it's also worthwhile in simply telling three great stories, by turns amusing, aggravating, and profoundly moving.