by Suzi Steffen
For Love of Water: Directed by Irena Salina. Cinematography, Pablo de Selva and Irena Salina. Music, Christophe Julien. Starring Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, Penn Gillette, Boone Pickens. Oscilloscope Pictures, 2008. NR. 84 mins.
Willamette Valley folks, could we be arrested someday for capturing and storing rainwater? An infuriating thought — though not as infuriating as watching threats and violence against the poor of the world resisting the privatization of the most precious resource on the planet, water. Really: Who could own water? As it turns out, a few wealthy corporations, with support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, make that claim.
For Love of Water, abbreviated as FLOW, makes its biggest impact through sheer visual repetition. There’s such a massive contrast between the Bolivian, Ecuadorean, Lesothan, black South African and Indian people desperate for clean, safe water on the one hand, and on the other, the smug, suit-wearing white European guys in charge of the private companies that keep on screwing over vulnerable populations. As the movie notes, water rights and water security may be the biggest issue of the 21st century, and it’s pretty clear whom the movie-makers blame.
FLOW has problems — it could be much shorter without lengthy music-laden shots, and the opening sequence appears to demonize the U.S. system of drinking water. When 1.1 billion people lack access to remotely clean water, and when water issues cause more deaths each year than does war, alarm about U.S. systems seems outrageously indulgent.
But even safely watered Eugeneans need to know about companies like Nestle (Poland Spring, Ice Mountain, Perrier, San Pellegrino and other brands) snatching water from U.S. watersheds and then selling it back to the same communities whose streams have gone dry. On the positive side, FLOW gives props to and hope for those fighting back, so it should inspire outrage — and action for change. — Suzi Steffen
FLOW opens Friday, Oct. 24, at the Bijou.