May 29, 2009
Water is the very essence of life, sustaining
every being on the planet. 'Flow' confronts the disturbing reality that our
crucial resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause
Irena Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into what experts
label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st
Century: The World Water Crisis.
Salina builds a case against the growing
privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an
unflinching focus on,
Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly
building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces
many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while
begging the question,
"CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?"
Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people
and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those
developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a
successful global and economic turnaround.
The Film That Will Change The Way You Think About Water
by Tara Lohan
September 27, 2008
Can anyone really own water?
That was the questions that got French
filmmaker Irena Salina inspired to take on a mammoth project - chronicling
the global water crisis and solutions - from privatization to politics to
Her creation, the award-winning film "FLOW - For Love of Water," was a
Sundance hit and now is making its theatrical debut in theaters across the
country. Her film includes interviews with some of the world's leading
activists, scientists and policy makers.
But it also looks at how everyday
people are affected around the world - from the United States to South
Africa to India and the growing network of grassroots activists that are
While the film is alarming, it is also empowering.
As a review in the New York Times said,
"Irena Salina's astonishingly
wide-ranging film is less depressing than galvanizing, an informed and
heartfelt examination of the tug of war between public health and private
From the dubious quality of our tap water (possibly laced with
rocket fuel) to the terrifyingly unpoliced contents of bottled brands (one
company pumped from the vicinity of a Superfund site), the movie ruthlessly
dismantles our assumptions about water safety and government oversight."
What I also love about this film is its unabashed attack on the
privatization of water. You get a look at who the corporate players really
are and what they have to say for themselves.
In an interview with AlterNet, Salina told us about what inspired her to
take on this project and the blessing that it has become.
Tara Lohan: What made you want to do this film?
Irena Salina: There were a few things. Five years ago I watched Robert
Kennedy Jr. talking about certain American industries, which were routinely
polluting our rivers and waterways, and I was shocked to hear that some of
these free-flowing contaminants often end up in the human body.
This is what
initially drew me to pay close attention to any news related to water.
But it was not until I saw an article in the Nation titled "Who Owns Water"
written by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke that asked the question,
going to be the oil of the 21st century?"
And this really what got me going. Also, I must mention that having my first child made me look at the
environment with a different eye!
TL: Your film covered a whole range of threats facing the future of our
What should we be
most concerned with?
IS: I think people in this country should be very concerned about certain
chemicals and herbicides that are not being regulated properly by the EPA
because of special interests.
For instance, there was an article that
recently came out in the Washington Post about the contaminant
which comes from rocket fuel, and how
the EPA is not taking action to get it
out of drinking water.
Here's an excerpt from that:
The Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from the White House and
the Pentagon, is poised to rule as early as today that it will not set a
drinking-water safety standard for perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel
that has been linked to thyroid problems in pregnant women, newborns and
young children across the nation.
TL: So if there are contaminants like perchlorate in our water, how do we know
what is safe to drink? The film also exposes the fallacy of drinking bottled
So what are our options?
IS: The first thing I would tell people to do is to visit
Food and Water
Watch. They have a very articulate Web site about the safety of tap water
and the problems with bottled water.
TL: How do I find out whether my tap water is safe?
IS: You can contact your local utility to request a copy of the annual water
quality report, also referred to as the consumer confidence report. This
report is required by law to provide information about contaminant
violations in the water system. The EPA also posts many of these results on
its Web site.
For people in New York, they can dial 311 and request a free lead test. If a
person finds they have a contaminant in their water, there are often filters
they can use.
In order to ensure clean water for everyone, we need to make sure we ban the
most dangerous chemicals. To begin with, we need to establish a
Trust Fund that will repair and improve our water infrastructure. We need to
use the best technology possible to purify our drinking water, and that will
require federal funding.
TL: What role does climate change play in the water crisis?
Climate change is like a big brother to the water crisis; unless we take
action immediately, we will see more droughts or more violent hurricanes,
floods and the like.
TL: During the film, you traveled all over the world meeting with people
fighting against privatization and for access to clean water. Who did you
find the most inspiring?
IS: There is a story that didn't make it into the film but will be in our
DVD extra. In a very poor township of Johannesburg, South Africa, we met
this community on our first day there. They lived next to a leaking pipe
from a nearby hospital, and this pipe had been leaking apparently for years.
So what they did with a local plumber is built up some kind of pipe and
plugged it to the leaking pipe and funneled the water in order to create a
local garden where they could grow vegetables.
And I remember this man who
"You know, for us, the poorest of the poor, small things make a big
difference in our lives."
And yes, that garden fed them as well as some
Another example is when I went to India and saw the work of
known as the waterman of India - that was an empowering experience. Through
his work, entire villages in the drought-prone area of Rajasthan revived an
ancient practice of rainwater harvesting.
Thanks to this work, the region
now has enough water, and the girls are able to go to school, and the young
men that had left the village came back, and they are now selling their
vegetables to others in nearby villages.
TL: Since your film has been released in the U.S., do you feel that people
here are beginning to realize there is a water crisis?
IS: Well, it just came out, so we are hopeful. But already I have seen, when
I was touring the film festivals for a few months, that when people watched
the film, I could tell from their reaction that they were not left
And there have been a number of books in the last few years.
just toured with her new book called
Blue Covenant, which has been a big
TL: What role do you see technology playing in confronting the water crisis?
IS: I think like Peter Gleick from the
Pacific Institute mentioned once,
"It's going to be a combination of ancient knowledge and modern technology."
TL: What was the best thing you learned while working on this film?
IS: I have just learned so much from some of those trips and the people I
met there. I feel blessed in some ways to have made this film. I also
learned a great deal about patience!
Suez Water Sues Documentary "FLOW"
'Defamation' and 'Loses'...
by Tara Lohan
November 19, 2010
You may remember our coverage (above
report) of the beautiful film about our threatened
freshwater resources, FLOW: For Love of Water. In turns out that
multinational water giant Suez wasn't so fond of it and tried to sue for
Thankfully, the French courts saw right through their charade.
Here's a statement from foodandwaterwatch.org on the outcome:
With 1.2 billion people around the world lacking access to safe, clean,
affordable water, it is unconscionable that a company as powerful as Suez
would choose to use its considerable influence to obscure the facts behind
Of course, given the company's checkered performance in water resource
management, their reaction to the film is less than surprising.
to Indonesia, Suez has left a trail of sewage overflows, contaminated
drinking water, decaying infrastructure, political scandals and other
examples of botched management in the wake of its attempt to profit off of
local water systems around the globe.