Down to the very last drop

September 29, 2009
The Concordian

Dealing with one of the most crucial issues of our time, Blue Gold: World Water Wars is a hard-hitting documentary, discussing the human overexploitation of water.

Based on a book of the same title, Blue Gold won the Environmental Film Audience Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival and will be screened by Concordia University’s Cinema Politica next week.

Blue Gold begins with an introduction illustrating, in nerve-racking detail, the physiological effects of having to survive without water. Grabbing the viewers’ attention right off the bat, it demonstrates the slow and painful death caused by thirst.

Through shocking facts, the documentary manages to tell a very dark story that is nonetheless very real. It is also a story very close to home. According to the film, Canada has commodified its water resources through free trade agreements. Canada has also expressed opposition to a “right” to water.

Blue Gold shows developing countries forced to sell their water resources as a condition for receiving aid. It is a story of the powerful bullying the vulnerable. Shots of poor, naked children thirsting for water remind the viewer that innocent people are struggling to survive.

However, the film depends mostly on statistics to purvey its message. Beyond a few attention-grabbing shots, it lacks the sound and visual effects that would appeal to the viewers’ emotions and thus keep their attention. This undermines the importance of the issue at hand.

Nonetheless, the words of the experts interviewed make the urgency of the crisis clear. Among them is Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

The crisis, after all, does not only affect developing countries. Even communities in countries such as the United States have been struggling to fight against the commercialization of water.

Blue Gold also succeeds in reminding us that there is a positive side to the story. It shows us that there is, in fact, a way to reverse the damage done, as seen by historical examples. By regulating water usage, protesting corporate takeover, and legislating water as a right not to be privatized, this continued crisis can be ended.

The making of this documentary is well-timed, and well worth a watch. Just remember, if your attention span does not last the entirety of the film, that the issue it deals with affects us all.

Blue Gold plays at 7:30 p.m on Oct. 5 in H-110. Entrance is free, but donations are recommended.