Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Planet in Focus: 3rd World Water Forum - March 16 - 23, 2003

(Logo of the 2015 festival)Planet In Focus

2004 Planet in Focus: 3rd World Water Forum - March 16 - 23, 2003

Martin Robertson reported on "Waterworks", the film festival held during the UN World Water Forum in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan. He says:
"...But by Saturday, some of the shorter docs received considerable feedback, especially “Pani” (directed by Sushma Joshi) with its clear reporting about local community good will projects floundering because of lack of preparedness in communicating to everyone involved about the reasons for decisions, gender and caste bias in the construction of committees, and secrecy about costs and funding."

“Water Works” - A report by Martin Robertson

Planet in Focus was represented twice in Kyoto at the World Water Forum this March with screenings and cultural programming.

“Water Works” a mini event featured on three days with short video docs (schedule) accompanied by story telling and musical performances, was produced by Martin Robertson, the current Chair of Communications and International Partnerships, with a Japanese based partner – David Simpson of Aquarius 21.

“Mother Water” a video documentary on the commodification of water resources in the aboriginal lands of the Hopi, directed by LeAnn Lucero and produced by Susan Green, was shown as part of the Indigenous Forum, adjunct to the International Conference agenda. Susan, has recently been recruited as this year’s Executive Director.

With the war in Iraq superimposed over the whole event, more delegates were watching international news coverage than attending the morning screenings. But by Saturday, some of the shorter docs received considerable feedback, especially “Pani” (directed by Sushma Joshi) with its clear reporting about local community good will projects floundering because of lack of preparedness in communicating to everyone involved about the reasons for decisions, gender and caste bias in the construction of committees, and secrecy about costs and funding.

Many West Africa delegates were delighted with the French language content of “La Loi de l’eau” by Robert Monderie, and several educators, including one from Quebec, requested more information about copies for their classes, proving conclusively the benefit of festivals and screenings as alternate sources of information and inspirational footage.

Both the Executive Director of World Wildlife’s “Living Waters” Program and the International Communications Director attended the Saturday sessions to support their contributions, and news of other successful projects, not represented on tape, was received - notably from contacts in India, Egypt, Iceland, Vietnam, Netherlands and China. Everyone involved in the ongoing dialogue expressed the need for more documentaries to be made and distributed in their regions.

Because of the dominance of hostilities in the Middle East, security was considerably heightened; so much so that when Dave Simpson retreated to the quiet of a nearby green space to record his opening remarks, he was suddenly surrounded by four armed guards who took his digi-cam for scanning and inspection as a weapon!

Currently, the Planet in Focus ‘tour’ of screenings is underway nationally, but Martin Robertson reports that there are plans for more “Best of PiF” or specially themed programs to be promoted internationally as well. Beijing, New Delhi, the World Social Forum in Brazil and the Bioneers Conference in California, are all targeted choices and any one interested with sources of funding or connections in these places is invited to contact him at: firststepsone@hotmail.com.

Water Works Festival Schedule
The most powerful vested interests on the planet gathered at the World Water Forum in Japan (March 16th-23rd) to make decisions about water quality and who gets to control the world’s water supply.

“Water Works” was a programme of films that presented the concerns of global citizens to the World Water Forum from March 20 to 22. Here is the schedule of events...

Aquarius 21, David Simpson
Martin Robertson (Ideas in Motion)
Planet in Focus: Toronto International Environmental Film & Video Festival


"WaterWorks"- an eco doc videofest

Thursday, March 20, 2003 - KICH Event Hall Theatre, 11:30am

Captured Rain (Canada/B.C.) Director: Jerry Thompson (41.30 mins)

Filmmaker Jerry Thompson examines the seemingly unstoppable momentum to privatize Canadian water and ship it to the USA. He illustrates how this urge is generated by two simple needs. In less than seven years, California - which already has a bigger population than all of Canada - will only have 43% of the water it needs; and, 80% of all fresh fruit and vegetables consumed on the entire continent of North America come from that State, which is rapidly draining the rivers and aquifers of the South Western United States to satisfy its irrigation needs. With an interview with Jack Lindsay, an American oil entrepreneur who came up with a business plan to ship water from British Columbia to Santa Barbara, this documentary reveals how vulnerable Canada is under NAFTA to exploitation of its freshwater resources as tradable “commercial goods.”.


Friday, March 21, 2003 - KICH Event Hall Theatre, 1:30pm

La loi de l’eau (Canadian/Quebec) Director: Robert Monderie (52mins – French with English subtitles)

A devastating look at the proceedings of a Quebec tribunal into the state of water control and quality, leading to the conclusions that special interest groups are now firmly entrenched with little or no monitoring by the government, and worse - that pollution from every source, but especially industrial and agricultural waste and pesticides, runs rampant. Director Robert Monderie makes the case for new water policies to be created immediately – and not just in Quebec.

Guest Speakers: World Wildlife Fund – Living Waters Campaign Representative and the International Communications Director


Saturday, March 22, 2003 - KICH event Hall Theatre, 11:30am

Water War (India) Director: Nutan Manmohan, Research/Reporting: Aarti Kapoor (11.07mins)

The Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan that helps the two countries to share the waters of five rivers that flow from Kashmir, has become a point of major confrontation. Analysts warn that if water is used as a weapon in current tension between India and Pakistan, it could escalate into warfare. An estimated four million people in India and one million in Pakistan are directly affected by this water treaty. Kashmir’s people and Government have been clamouring to turn off the taps. The Indian Minister for Kashmir has said: “ We give them water and they send back terrorists.” Pakistan officials have threatened to approach the UN and the World Bank to intervene if India does try to scrap the treaty. The film covers an area of 700 kilometres spanning Ladakh (a Bhuddist area), Srinagar (a Muslim dominated area) and Jammu (a predominantly Hindu region).

WWF Yangtzee River programme (China). Profile of the work of Dr Lei Guangchu (8 mins)

This short film documents the work of persuading and assisting people living along the banks of the Yangtzee River to live with, and adapt to, the annual floods instead of trying to fight them. A pilot village has been established on the river where residents have moved to higher ground and started different industries and agriculture. They are safe from annual flooding and economically the move has been a success. On the opposite bank, another village that decided to stay put but has been following the progress across-stream recently decided to follow suit. WWF is helping finance alternative industries for these villages and hopes to spread the scheme up and down the river.

WWF Niger River programme (Nigeria). Profile of the work of Bawa Ousmane Goah (12 mins)

The flood plains of the Niger River are the lifeline of the Sahel people of West Africa. Millions depend on the region’s natural resources for fishing, grazing land, crops and building materials. Bawa Ousmane Goah is the local co-ordinator of the project PADEL (programme d’appui au developpement locale) in Gaya, Niger. His mission, illustrated in this profile, is to help local communities manage these precious resources in the face of increasing human and environmental pressures.

Pani (Nepal). Director: Sushma Joshi (28mins. English subtitles)

more about Pani

Set in the village of Lele, near Kathmandu, this cinema verite video follows the growing conflict in the community after a water pipe and tap system was installed. Gender and caste differences play a vital part in the disputes as women and lower caste members are excluded from decision making even though they are the principal users. The camera tracks the wide disparity in control and communication revealing frustrations that result in the pipe being cut and maintenance fees unpaid. Its lessons become clear as we witness the more vocal of the villagers debating the issue: even small scale models of development will not work unless traditional social infrastructure, especially gender biases and cultural discrimination, are not addressed by donors and local managers.

Guest speaker: Director Sushma Joshi.