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FLOW - for the love of water A new documentary by Irena Salina
Why would I argue "Flow" is a masterpiece and must be seen? The truth is always in the details. It is not just another documentary banging you over the head to make a point. It actually serves as a poem about human struggle and the ability of the small person to rise up and fight the big corporation. Since most movies of this genre act as scare mongers, leaving the viewer overwhelmed and powerless at the end, this sets out to do exactly the opposite. The strength of this documentary is that it gives you the tools and the inspiration, to pick up the torch and run with it. It so effected me I could not bare to reach for my bottle of Poland Spring water and it was the hottest day on record yesterday, so that in itself speaks well for any film maker.
What Irena Salina has pulled off is nothing less than a miracle. She brings you the details: varieties of women carrying buckets of water on their heads, different countries, same problem. Castrated frogs, fish turning female en mass, then quietly Salina introduces her protagonist, water. Water is as fascinating as it is universal. It is both a necessity for all life on this planet, but the blood stream of the planet. Salinas makes the analogy of the blood circulating around the body and compares it with the waters of the earth.
Salina manages to always refrain from preaching by using amusing cartoons and clips from classics like, "The Third Man," to keep you in suspense and amused. After all, laughter is the greatest key to learning. Salina makes us laugh, then delivers the information that will keep you awake at night.
After showing the horror show of what the water companies have done in: South Africa, Bolivia and India, it returns home to show what is happening here in the States. The bad guys are well established by now: Suez, Vivendi and Thames Water. We begin with introductions from the CEOs of those companies, smiling like Cheshire cats, congratulating themselves for the great work they are doing. As with the trickle down effect, we meet the people living in the areas, where dams were built, forcing them off their land and depriving them of a water supply and a living. The we see how these same companies sell the water back to the villagers at a premium.
In South Africa it was explained, the poorest man on the street pays more than the wealthiest individual, just to use a communal tap. The other villain who remains faceless is the World Bank, who in return for their loans, forces countries to sell their water rights or lose out on "water development." What the film teaches us is "water development" is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Promising clean water and better supply, it actually delivers worse. Water that is undrinkable at best and expensive water that no one can afford. There there is Cholera, which is having a hell of a come back and it is all thanks to the World Bank.
In America the battle has begun in Michigan, where Nestle has been leasing land for the paltry sum of $65,000 for ninety years. While the Poland Spring people happily pump away the under ground reservoirs, they reduce nearby riverbanks to mud banks. What happens when the demand is so high that the locals not only lose their rivers, but also have to buy back their water, so they can drink, wash or grow crops? Sound familiar? Michigan took Nestle to the Supreme Court, only to have the ruling upturned. The amounts of water they could extract were reduced. So they simply leased another piece of land.
I found the water imagery and the score by Christophe Julien, provided a well needed release for the viewer. I have high hopes that this film will become compulsory viewing for governments and schools. The equation that for every bottle of water you drink, you are depriving whole villages of water in the third world and soon America, should make an impact. Not to mention the knowledge that bottled water is less regulated than tap water. Or the fact that those bottles are creating islands, not to mention killing off countless wild life. Not to mention the millions of displaced people who have no water. Is this what we have in store in America?
On a final note, the result of all of the "detail" in this movie, drove me to buy a filter system for our taps. I also went to my pet shop to get a tester. Apparently people who own fish tanks have always known about this stuff.
I should also be mentioned that this little film raised a lot of powerful eyebrows at Sundance Film Festival and is being released shortly at the Angelika and Cinema Village East. See it before your friends do, or suffer not only from ignorance but thirst!
For more information about the film see website: flowthefilm.com
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