Many times documentaries can walk the fine line between being heavy handed or too slight when trying to get its point across. “Watermark” succeeds where others have failed as a beautifully moving look at how an element of water connects us all and affects our environment so dramatically.
Pulling from multiple stories all across the globe, “Watermark” from award winning filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and cinematographer Nick de Pencier along with renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky for a tale of something that unites the entire planet, water. It looks at how we are drawn to it as a species, what we learn from it going forward, and most importantly how we use it and the subsequent consequences of that use.
Very much a film that lets its visuals speak just as loudly as its subjects as this is easily one of the more immersive cinematic experiences of the year that manages to be pretty darn educational all at the same time. A key component in Burtynsky’s five year water project that includes his fifth book Burtynsky-Water, “Watermark” manages to highlight some positive and negatives around the global issues surrounding our natural water supply. As we see some of the shameful use and pollution of the water supply in the leather tanneries of Dhaka our heart breaks only for it to be subsequently uplifted as we see millions upon millions gather to bathe in the Ganges for a religious ritual every single year. The stunning photography of the film that gives us a massive bird’s eye view of the construction of Xilodu dam in China that is at least six times larger than the Hoover damn we are in awe of the power of human ingenuity, and we see its consequences as water redirection has dried out numerous river beds so we can have farming in areas that were never meant to be used like that.
Baichwal, de Pencier and Burtynsky take us on an important journey as they don’t hit us over the head with any misguided messages about the over or misuse of our water resources, they just display it all in as visually glorious fashion as they possibly can and let us make our own minds. In “Watermark”, a picture truly is worth a thousand words and this film will certainly spark talk and discussion of much more then that after you leave the cinema.
5 out of 5 stars.
“Watermark” is playing exclusively at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and the Varsity Cinemas here in downtown Toronto. Directors Baichwal and Burtynsky will also be taking part in Q&A sessions on the following days and locations.
Friday – September 27
Q & A with directors Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky
following the early evening show at Varsity Cinemas
Saturday – September 28
Q & A with the Baichwal and Burtynsky
following the early evening show at Bell Lightbox
Sunday – September 29
In Conversation with the Baichwal and Burtynsky at 3:00 pm on the
lower level of Indigo Bookstore (Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor)
Please check with your local listings for show times.
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