Observing water


Watermark showcases the effect of water on humanity

Cristina Alumdevar

After a successful premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), co-directors Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky are bringing their celebrated documentary Watermark to local cinema, Princess Twin.

Watermark showcases the relationship between humanity and water and the intense influence one has on the other. Baichwal and Burtynsky travel around the world, showing stark, contrasting images of the role of water where it is plentiful, paralleled with its usage in areas of water scarcity.

“Where water is scarce, there’s a whole different type of respect for it and there’s a whole different mode of operation for it … it’s treated much more carefully than a much more wasteful Western society,” said Burtynysky.

“Just by looking at something like Palm Springs [in Florida] … there’s over 100 golf courses and each golf course means a million gallons a day.”

This is the second collaboration between Baichwal and Burtynsky, following their award-winning documentary Manufactured Landscapes. However, this is Burtynsky’s first time in the director’s chair.

“I was far more engaged in the process of scouting out the locations, choosing the subjects, working in the editing room and the construction of the film itself,” Burtynysky said. “It gave me a lot more respect for how collaborative and challenging it is to make a film versus the challenges of making exhibitions and books.”

So, why water?

“It seemed to be a natural progression for from doing a project on oil and then looking around at another critical element to life in progress,” Burtynysky said.

“It was something that I felt I could get my head around. It took some time, took me five years … I have some interesting perspectives, other ways to think about water and how to take it seriously.”

The film inspires a necessary dialogue of our consumption, and potential abuse, of water and how we can change our dynamic with it.

While Burtynysky hopes “that one can at least aid in raising the consciousness around these issues,” ultimately it is up to the viewer to decide how to re-evaluate their relationship with water and how they choose to consume it.

The film compliments other water-related activities available in Kitchener-Waterloo right now. THEMUSEUM is currently presenting the exhibition Surface Tension, which touches upon similar themes.

Watermark will be premiering at the Princess Twin on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Burtynysky will be introducing the film and will be having a question and answer period after the show. Tickets are $16.