The Palar basin in South India has now become an arid expanse marked with cacti and bleached earth. The land is so parched that it has faded to white and the belt which at one point was pregnant with the life brought in by the river, is dead.
“Be Water My Friend”, a film by Antonio Martino shows us that this phenomenon of disappearing water bodies is global. The city of Moynoq on the coast of Uzbekistan on the Aral Sea has now become a ghost town. A boisterous town that thrived on the abundances brought by the Aral had been reduced to a feeble whisper that remembers with bitterness a glorious past.
The documentary explores the environmental tragedy after the Kruschev government intensified cotton production, and the two rivers that kept the Aral alive were deviated to the cotton fields. “I was a fisherman, now I'm a dead man,” says one man who has lost all.
States have warred, livelihoods and lives have been lost, protests staged and a host of other atrocities have been committed, all in the name of water. The Bangalore Film society along with a consortium of organisations is organizing “Voices From the Water 2010”, from August 27 to 30. This is the fifth edition of the international film festival on water. “Be Water My Friend” is one of the films that will be screened at the festival among others.
“Living On The Edge” a film by the students of Jyothi Nivas College is a movie that has been shot beautifully and shows us a Bangalore that is being stripped of her trees, and replaced with monuments of technological ambition.
“We may lose close to 20,000 trees because of the Metro project,” says Leo Saldhana, Coordinator of the Environment Support Group in the film. The filmmakers don't crib or complain about the state of affairs, instead they bring to light the truth.
Laura Graham an anthropologist made “Owner Of The Water”, a film that discusses the loss of water resources in the Savannah. The Xavante, an indigenous tribe consider the river Rio das Mortes a part of their being. This water is now being indiscriminately consumed and polluted by the big corporate soy cultivators.
In a country where state policy promotes agribusinesses over all else, these men have little voice. The destruction of the river would destroy their life force and their spirituality. A fiery protestor says, “If the Rio das Mortes dies, we all die.”
Over the years the water problem has intensified globally and has everyone on red alert. But is a colour coded warning sign sufficient? “Voices from the Waters” goes beyond admonishment and preaching. For more information visit www.voicesfromthewaters.com.