FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER(director: Irena Salina; cinematographers: Pablo de Selva/Irena Salina; editors: Caitlin Dixon/Madeleine Gavin/Andrew Mondshein; music: Christophe Julien; Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Steven Starr; Oscilloscope Pictures; 2008)
“Educational polemical documentary.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
French-born filmmaker Irena Salina (“Ghost Bird”) directs this educational polemical documentary that begins with a sobering quote by W.H. Auden “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” Through a bunch of activists, scientists and talking heads, it goes about showing how water is even more essential to the world than oil and that we should be alarmed because we are running out of fresh water due to “overuse, drought, pollution and privatization.” It shuttles around the world to places such as South Africa, the U.S., Bolivia and India to point out a worldwide problem that already exists where more than a billion people of the world’s six billion population lack access to clean water.
Through its loose overview of the following important topics: water pollution, the increasing privatization of the global water supply, the false safety of bottled water (it contains bugs), the negativity of dam building and the oncoming global water shortage, it alarmingly shows the escalating threat to the world’s freshwater supplies. Its serious warning is that private corporation are waiting in the bushes to move in to privatize water in the near future and sell it to us for a considerable hefty price (like oil) if we don’t watch our back. Companies such as Nestle and Coca-Cola are prime examples of big business diverting the best water from impoverished foreign locations for their own use. It dutifully reminds us that the $400 billion dollar global water industry is big business–the third largest behind electricity and oil–an industry that bears watching as much as the others. The filmmaker also questions if anyone has the right to own water. A village head in India gives the filmmaker’s response when he notes that “Owning water is like owning air.”
Though it certainly raises important issues that have largely been ignored by the public and cannot easily be dismissed, the film’s flaws are that it lacks focus, humor and style to reach a wide audience. It will probably be preaching only to the choir. But when you hear that water might be the next natural resource to hit you in your pocketbook, it could give the already overwhelmed American consumer something else to worry about and might even drive one to drink (that’s if the tap water is safe from industrial wastes, bacteria, rocket fuel and bugs).
REVIEWED ON 12/1/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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