Water on the Table

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Subjects: Activism, American Studies, Biographies, Canadian Studies, Climate Change, Ecology, Economics, Energy, Environment, Ethics, First Nations Studies, Geography, Global Issues, Human Rights, International Trade, Law, Oil, Social Justice, Sociology, Sustainability, Toxic Waste, Water, Women's Studies

Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Liz Marshall / KINOSMITH
Closed Captioned: Yes
Running Time: 79, 56 mins
Country of Origin: Canada
Study Guide: Yes with purchase

Copyright Date: 2010
Available in French: No

Water on the Table is a character-driven, social-issue documentary by Liz Marshall that explores Canada's relationship to its freshwater, arguably its most precious natural resource. The film asks the question: is water a commercial good like running shoes or Coca-Cola? Or, is water a human right like air?

Water on the Table features Maude Barlow, who is considered an "international water-warrior" for her crusade to have water declared a human right. "Water must be declared a public trust and a human right that belongs to the people, the ecosystem and the future, and preserved for all time and practice in law. Clean water must be delivered as a public service, not a profitable commodity."

The film intimately captures the public face of Maude Barlow as well as the unscripted woman behind the scenes. The camera shadows her life on the road in Canada and the United States over the course of a year as she leads an unrelenting schedule. From 2008 - 2009 Barlow served as the U.N. Senior Advisor on Water to Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations.
Water on the Table is more than a portrait of an activist, it is a poetic-essay that presents several dramatic and artfully crafted debates. Barlow's opponents are giants in the world of policy and economics, they argue that water is no different from any other resource, and that the best way to protect freshwater is to privatize it. It is proposed that Canada bulk-export its water to the United States, imminently.

Haiku-style images by cinematographer Steve Cosens linger on watersheds, wetlands, rivers, estuaries, waterfalls and lakes; bridging themes and questions and elevating water beyond the political framework explored.

"Barlow is a ferociously committed, politically savvy, world-renowned human rights activist and author, often referred to as 'the Ralph Nader of Canada.'...A very well-made and engaging documentary. Recommended." - Gary Handman, University of California Berkeley, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Though it could be seen as a manifesto, Water on the Table backs up every argument and point of social justice with facts." - Ottawa Citizen

"A documentary that's pointed but visually sumptuous and poetic."  - The Globe and Mail

"This is an important film, beautifully constructed, seriously examining the values we put on water." - Dr. J. Val Klump, Director and Senior Scientist, Great Lakes WATER Institute

DVD Features
Includes 79-minute and 56-minute versions, both with scene selection and SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Also 4 short films:
Water Activism [7:10]
The Glacier-Howser Story [8:45]
The Making of Water on the Table [8:34]
Water Meditations [5:21]


Best Canadian Feature Film, Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival
Nominated, Gemini Awards - Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Doc.
Featured Canadian Film for Cinema Politica
Honorable Mention, Canadian Environmental Media Awards
Part of the HotDocs Collection

Official Selection:
Edmonton International Film Festival
Montreal Film Festival
World Community Film Festival
Artivist Film Festival
Projecting Change Film Festival
Blue Planet Film Festival
Voices From The Waters Film Festival
Amazing Earthfest

- the film's website
www.wateronthetable.com/humanright/learn-resources/ - extra resources

Related Documents: Water on the Table Study Guide - Sample Pages

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