Thirst for Justice
Focuses on three battles for clean water—on the Navajo Reservation, in Flint MI, and at Standing Rock—united in the belief that Water Is Life.
Directed by Leana Hosea
Produced by Leana Hosea
Co-Producers: Tony Infante, Fateh Ahmed
Editor: Rich Smith
Cinematography: Leana Hosea, Lauretta Prevost
Music: Anthony Bruno, Sara Kay
Executive Producers: John Carver, Tim Wadhams, Howdie Holmes, Jeremy Hosea, Maureen Vanderputt, Kandy Martin
[Note: Community screenings of Thirst for Justice can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"It is an obscenity that we allow Indigenous Americans and poor...urban people to drink [contaminated] water." David O. Carpenter, M.D., Dir, Institute for Health, Univ at Albany
Armed only with facts and their illnesses, extraordinary citizens take on industry and government, risking arrest to protect clean water. From Flint to the Navajo Nation, via Standing Rock, this is their story.
THIRST FOR JUSTICE follows Janene Yazzie as she searches for the source of contamination in her son's school's water in Sanders, Arizona. She suspects drinking uranium-contaminated water from the 1979 Church Rock dam spill caused her ovarian cancer. Armed with a geiger counter she begins investigating radioactive waste on the Navajo Nation and finds areas hotter than evacuation zones in Chernobyl.
When the epic movement for water justice ignites in Standing Rock, Janene is compelled to join. There she meets Flint water activist Nayyirah Shariff and their struggles converge. Janene travels to Flint, where she sees first hand the similarities between what's happening in this inner-city and the Navajo experience. The sacredness of water flows through the film, with the water ceremonies and teachings from water carriers, like Mary Lyons and other Water Protectors.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2022
Copyright Date: 2021
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-77-1
"Powerful and sobering. Thirst for Justice reveals how contemporary water problems on the Navajo Nation, in Flint, Michigan, and elsewhere in the United States are the result of state and corporate crimes against humanity. Activists fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Enbridge Line 3 under the Great Lakes tell us that the struggle for safe and affordable drinking water is the fight of our lifetime. Thirst for Justice provides witness for those coming together to protect not only the human right to water but mother earth as well."
Michael Mascarenhas, Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California-Berkeley, Author, Lessons in Environmental Justice: From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter and Idle No More
"Thirst for Justice is powerful and disturbing. The US is the richest country in the world. It is an obscenity that we allow Indigenous Americans and poor and minority urban people - even when on municipal water supplies - to drink water so contaminated as to threaten their health and cognitive function. It is especially tragic when our children drink contaminated water that will increase their risk of cancer later in life and cause an irreversible loss of IQ that will last as long as they live."
David O. Carpenter, M.D., Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany
"Thirst for Justice opens eyes to the hard-hit communities at home in USA. The hollowed-out humanity of corporate spokespeople front unconvincingly for executives who refuse interviews. Locals speak powerfully about what this travesty means. The film points out - our survival is at stake and access to clean water is key."
Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network
"Motivating and inspiring...Thirst for Justice tells the stories of two of the communities that are among the hundreds that experience water injustice across the country. It's a problem of priorities, racism, and classism. Watch the film, get informed, and support people and organizations doing something about it. Stand up with the people asking for clean water and not with greedy corporations."
Dr. J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida, Bilingual Senior Climate and Water Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists
"This inspiring film offers hope for the future. We see young community leaders and elders from the Navajo Nation, Flint, and Standing Rock uniting to insist that water is life, and clean water is a human right. The film provides a toolbox of strategies for emerging young leaders and students who are interested in demonstrating that intergenerational justice - for the people and our planet - is achievable."
Joni Adamson, President's Professor and Director, UNESCO BRIDGES Sustainability Coalition, Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University
Nora Lee Mandel, Maven's Nest
"Pollution and greed or clean and safe water for all! Thirst for Justice provides an excellent overview of some of the most important cases of the fight for water justice in the United States - documenting a thread of corporate greed and government malfeasance in contaminating and putting at risk water sources and people. The film not only exposes viewers to the very real effects on human health of contamination of water, but the Native American led movements to protect water and envision a better future for all."
Stephen P. Gasteyer, Associate Professor of Sociology, Michigan State University
"Thirst for Justice presents the lived realities of different U.S. communities struggling for access to clean water from their perspectives, in their own words. It serves as an important resource for teaching in my Environmental Anthropology classroom."
Dvera Saxton, Associate Professor of Anthropology, California State University, Fresno
"Poignant and timely...In this documentary, we follow a family in Flint, Michigan and a woman on Navajo Nation as they seek answers as to why their families were exposed to contaminated water through public water supplies and confront those who hid these facts for financial gain. The film keeps you emotionally engaged and is investigative in nature with deeply emotional scenes throughout...When we showed this film to a group of community environmental health researchers in New Mexico...the emotional responses were palpable."
Carolyn Roman, Science Research Manager, University of New Mexico
"This spirit of resistance is at the heart of the film, and serves as a much needed silver lining around the bleak cloud of angry, toxic rainwater. Whether it's rallies outside the Flint town hall, or demonstrations at the Standing Rock Reservation, the message they send is clear - 'we're not gonna take it'."
Ben Johnston, Take One Cinema
Elliot Grove, Founder, Raindance Film Festival
"Everyone deserves access to safe, clean, affordable water that we can drink, use in our homes, and doesn't harm or make us sick. Thirst for Justice shows us that this is not a guarantee. We can and must do better. We must become advocates and allies, demand action from utilities, elected officials, and others, and work together to find durable and equitable solutions that raise our sights to include healthy rivers and clean water for all."
Nicole Silk, President and CEO, River Network
"Thirst for Justice highlights how communities that are quite far from each other face very similar and poignant challenges with access to clean water due to the way things are being managed. This is an issue that all of us face in different ways. There needs to be a genuine concern for the people who are impacted and efforts to preempt and fix problems. I am motivated to work on these challenges, thanks to those who highlight these heart-rending situations that sit quietly in our midst."
Upmanu Lall, Director of the Columbia Water Center, Professor of Engineering, Columbia University
"Thirst for Justice shares compelling stories of water injustice with informative analysis. It puts these stories into a broad context that the millions of individuals in diverse communities around the globe who lack adequate safe water will relate to. This is a valuable teaching resource for students learning about the many places and people affected by water injustice."
Noah Hall, Professor of Law, Wayne State University, Founder, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
"Powerful...Thirst for Justice provides first-hand accounts of communities throughout the U.S. struggling for water justice, exposing underlying commonalities between these struggles and the forging
|Reduced rates for activist and grassroots groups. Please inquire.
Includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and scene selection.
Awards and Festivals
Best Documentary Feature, Gallup Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary Feature, Raindance Film Festival
Award of Merit Special Mention, Accolade Global Film Competition
St. Louis International Film Festival
Bentonville Film Festival
Louisiana International Film Festival
Great Lakes International Film Festival
BZN International Film Festival
Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival
International Uranium Film Festival
Jelly FEST Film Festival
Red Nation International Film Festival
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of powerful alliances. The film can help spark learning and discussion around democracy, justice, power, resource management, and social movements."
Sara Hughes, Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning, Director of Water and Climate Policy Lab, University of Michigan