Monday, April 16, 2012
Dallas International Film Festival preview: Last Call at the Oasis
The film illustrates the many ways in which individual habit changes could yield significant water savings.
“My father promised me that sometime in my lifetime we would see water be more valuable than oil…I think that time is here.” – Erin Brockovich
Some environmental issues have finally compelled mainstream culture to consciously and regularly act. More and more people recycle every year. More and more people invest in efficient energy use, from hybrid vehicles to LED light bulbs.
Yet when comes to water, one of life’s basic requirements, our culture and our government still views it as an unlimited commodity. Elsewhere, that couldn’t be more far away from the truth.
In Last Call at the Oasis (playing April 16 and 17 at Landmark Magnolia in Dallas), Oscar-winning director Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien, Protagonist) challenges America’s prevailing notion about water with irrefutable examples of abject crisis—not in other world regions such as Southeast Asia and Africa where water can cause all-out war, but right here in the US.
“I wanted to ground the story in the US, where we’ve been so lucky with water, because of the perception that water problems happen somewhere else,” Yu said. “They are happening here, too, but we are not doing something about it at all.”
The film makes its case by presents a dizzying number of compelling interviews, with both experts in water use and conservation and individuals-turned-activists who fight everyday battles against water’s misuse, from pollution and waste to use rationing and outright availability, in their own back yard.
“It was important to tell human stories in ways that don’t assume we need to change everything overnight,” Yu said, “but rather to be more engaging on a personal level.”
The present water crisis is understandably complex and multi-faceted, with issues rooted in conservation theory, pollution minimization and recycling. Yu manages to weave comfortably through all of these both domestically and internationally, and draws critical parallels between what’s happened (over-irrigation in Australia, for instance) and what could happen (the same in California, one of the US’s biggest agriculture states.)
While some issues appear insurmountable today, the film illustrates the many ways in which individual habit changes could yield significant water savings as well as how individual attitude changes can do the same. For instance, is the U.S. prepared to overcome the “yuk” factor attached to recycled sewage water, which is refined to potable quality in Singapore, Israel and Great Britain?
“The time frame in which we can foresee consequences happening is not generations ahead in time,” Yu said. “It is within one generation. That, in itself, is reason for alarm.
“I think my own perception has changed. I’m more aware of water use and conservation. I hope people won’t feel overwhelmed or helpless, but rather empowered with knowledge. All incremental changes are progress. It all adds up.”
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