Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Water on the Table: the struggle for the human right to water -- Maud Barlow

website and trailer: 60 min feature doc by Liz Marshall, 2010. The DVD will include other resources.

Maude Barlow is head of the Council of Canadians and chair of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. Water has been on the table since bulk water exports surfaced as an issue in the 1988 Free Trade Agreement, and again in the 1994 NAFTA. NAFTA states that once water "has entered into commerce" such exports cannot be halted for any reason, environmental or democratic, and governments can be sued for lost profits. Similar text urged by water privatizers is in the new EU CETA proposal (a reborn MAI) . The world's poor could suddenly find their taps cut off, and survival available -- at a price.

In a larger context, the fight for water is part of a global struggle for ownership of the commons.

Maud Barlow interview below by Chris Jones, Live With Culture, 12 Oct 2010 :

"Serious people have serious enemies," Barlow says. Portrayed by environmental activists as a hero and by many industry leaders as a villain fit for horns and a tail, the film follows various fights: the UN, the Alberta tar sands, and a proposed dump in a key watershed in Ontario’s Simcoe County, provide director Liz Marshall with plenty of drama.

Tarsands before and after: Bill Hewitt,

in 24 June 2010 US Foreign Policy Association blog Climate Change

“Maude’s view of the world is vastly different from her opponents’,” states film maker Marshall, “it’s a chasm and you wonder whether it will ever be bridged. As Canadians, we’re very aware of Maude Barlow as a public figure, as an activist – she’s very media savvy, she’s incredibly articulate and she’s always out there, but who is she really?"

“I knew we needed to represent her personal dimensions, for example her fears, what sustains her, family and grandchildren, and what is sacred to her,...that personal chapter comes at the middle of the film at a time when we need a break from all the facts.” What struck her most was how “truly authentic” Barlow is: “What you see is what you get with Maude. She is completely committed and as confident and as fierce as she can be, she’s also truly humble. She doesn’t treat people differently according to their status in life. I saw this over and over again.”

Water on the Table follows Barlow to New York City to document her UN crusade — in July 2010, 120 countries voted in favour of the resolution making water a human right, none opposing, but 41 countries abstained, including Canada and the United States. Privatizers, rightwing economists and corporate lobbies are working round the clock to defeat the concept at the World Water Congress.

The people win in one local struggle, when Simcoe County axes the landfill. One of the turning points comes when his grandchildren convince a politician to change sides. “It would have been a bummer without the Site 41 victory,” says Marshall. “The whole tone of the film would have changed. It was Maude’s instinct for me to cover that particular story and she was so right, she has uncanny instincts.”

Marshall’s own instincts, specifically her decision to make water a character in her film – beautifully composed and shot by cinematographer Steve Cosens (above) – also pays cinematic dividends and helps the audience to appreciate the magnitude of what’s at stake.

“I wanted something that was reflective and poetic without being too arty,” says Marshall. “I hope it’s just arty enough.”


Other resources: Barlow's 15 Oct 2010 speech calling for fundamental change, Wikipedia on Maud Barlow, her BluePlanetProject.net, foodandwaterwatch.org. Films

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (Sam Bozzo, USA, 2010)
Flow: For the Love of Water(Irina Salina, USA 2008)
Quaker earthcare resources list: QEWnet.ning.com

No comments: