A piercing look at the global corporate drive to control and profit from our water -- from bottles to tap.
Directed by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman
Produced by Snitow-Kaufman Productions
Editor: Kenji Yamamoto
Music: Fred Frith
Is water part of a shared "commons", a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace? THIRST tells the stories of communities in Bolivia, India, and the United States that are asking these fundamental questions, as water becomes the most valuable global resource of the 21st Century.
"See this film, and be inspired to act." Peter H. Gleick, author, The World's Water
"A remarkable film." Maude Barlow, co-author, Blue Gold
A character-driven documentary with no narration, THIRST reveals how the debate over water rights between communities and corporations can serve as a catalyst for explosive and steadfast resistance to globalization.
Note: The VHS version is NOT closed captioned, but the DVD is (main feature only).
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2004
Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 1-58458-112-6
VHS ISBN: 1-59458-039-1
"THIRST is a provocative portrayal in stark human terms of current battles over water privatization. Communities rise in protest; corporate interests seem to turn a deaf ear. Can there be a middle ground? THIRST provides a passionate jumping off point for a debate that is just beginning."
Tom Graff, Environmental Defense
"THIRST brilliantly dramatizes a potential threat of great enormity. A careful and deeply disturbing film about the threat to human safety and survival worldwide by corporate attempts to privatize the earth's water supplies."
Norris Hundley, author, The Great Thirst and Professor Emeritus of History, UCLA
"A moving and inspiring film about one of the biggest water issues of our day...it sounds a clarion call for citizens and governments to reaffirm that water is a public trust, not a commodity to be exploited for private profit. I hope THIRST is viewed widely, discussed at town meetings and in legislative debates, and that it energizes citizen involvement in water decisions. A powerful -- and needed -- film."
Sandra Postel, Director, Global Water Policy Project
"Do you know who controls your water? You'd better find out. As this powerful film shows, it may already be a private corporation run from afar. THIRST challenges apathy and ignorance about our most precious resource and shows how every citizen's voice can, indeed must, make a difference. See this film, and be inspired to act."
Peter H. Gleick, 2003 MacArthur Fellow and author, The World's Water
"THIRST is a remarkable film. The looming freshwater crisis is the greatest environmental and human rights crisis of our time. Not surprisingly, the move is on by powerful corporations and governments to commodify and cartelize the world's water supplies for power and profit. THIRST is the story of this assault and the fight to stop it."
Maude Barlow, National Chair, Council of Canadians and Co-author, with Tony Clarke, Blue Gold, The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World's Water
"Beautiful and engaging..."
Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
"THIRST is an important and timely film, and vividly illustrates the human costs of commodifying a most basic human right -- water. From women in India struggling to care for their families in the absence of fresh water and adequate sanitation to the people of Stockton, California, fighting to maintain control over their water resources, THIRST tells a powerful story of resistance and survival."
California State Senator Liz Figueroa (D, Fremont) Chair, Select Committee on International Trade Policy Chair
"THIRST beautifully shows how the labor movement can work closely with community groups and the environmental movement to defend public jobs and the public trust. Struggles for control of water could become the focus for creative new coalitions to reverse the tide of privatization."
Peter Olney, Institute for Labor and Employment, University of California
"THIRST is a transformative experience. As patrons left the theater, it was clear that the entertainment they had witnessed had progressed to education, visual beauty to substantive understanding. They had been fulfilled and motivated, their minds engaged and expanded. Despite the fact that the issues raised often inflame the passions, audience members felt they had grown without rancor, moved forward without leaving any players or arguments behind."
Professor Robert Benedetti, Executive Director, Jacoby Center for Regional and Community Studies, University of the Pacific
"THIRST documents how power, politics and money all combine in the raging international debate about water policy. The underlying issues of community versus corporate control are remarkably similar whether in India or the United States. The control of water may be responsible for more political, economic and even military clashes in the 21st century than was oil in the 20th."
Congressman George Miller (D-7, California) Former Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources
Voted one of "Top 10 Environmental Documentaries of 2009...Will make viewers think twice the next time they take a sip from the tap."
Mother Nature Network
"Surprisingly captivating...unlike so many other documentaries about multinationals -- documentaries that tend to be overbearingly supercilious and contemptuous -- THIRST simply lets the story tell itself...THIRST is like a message in a bottle sent from the future. It tells the beginning of what could be one of the major political and economic issues to shape the next century. Don't say they didn't warn you."
Phil Busse--The Portland Mercury
"THIRST gives you dry mouth."
Matthew Hirsch, San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Another smart bottom-to-top take on complexly related racial, economic, legislative, and individual issues. The crux here: can water access remain 'part of the global commons' everyone should have free access to, or is it doomed to become an economic commodity bought and sold like any other?...This important and engrossing film provides a spur to activism that no one should ignore, unless they're rich enough in obliviousness to propose, 'Let them drink sake.'"
Dennis Harvey, San Francisco Bay Guardian
"By showing how activists in Stockton, Cochabamba and India are all...thinking globally but acting locally, Snitow and Kaufman give us a provocative look at the current and coming water wars...After seeing THIRST it will be hard to ever take water for granted."
Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle
"A groundbreaking and provocative new film about the rush to privatize what the filmmakers rightly define as the very essence of life."
Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet
"THIRST insightfully and thoroughly explores the contentious issues surrounding water privatization, showing us that it's not merely a Third World concern but a dark and growing trend right here in our own backyard."
Shannon Abel, HOT DOCS Canadian International Documentary Festival
"A compelling study of corporate greed, exploitation of the disadvantaged, and volatile uprising among civic-minded protestors demanding equal voice in a controversial issue...A valuable tool for awareness and activism, especially in water rich communities that could become the next battleground for the public's right to water, THIRST deserves to be seen by all who drink, flush, and cook with life's most essential element. Highly recommended."
Educational Media Reviews Online
"Both educational and informative, Thirst tells a compelling part of the water rights' story and urges us all to take an interest in our water before it is too late."
The DVD contains the following special features:
* Maude Barlow Speech at the Kyoto World Water Forum * "Bottle This!" - Graphic Audio Essay * Interview with the Directors * Action Tool Kit with study guide, poster and more * Spoken Word - Poetry on Water * Language Choices (main feature only): English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Closed Captions in English for the hearing impaired.
Thirst's PBS web site
PBS's Lesson Plan
Producers' web site
Awards and Festivals
National PBS Broadcast on "POV"
The Chris Statuette, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Top 10 Environmental Documentaries of the Year List, Mother Nature Network
CINE Golden Eagle Award
Documè Prize, Cervino International Film Festival, Italy
First Place, EarthVision Enviromental Film Festival
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Hot Docs, Toronto
Margaret Mead Film Festival
American Public Health Association Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Planet in Focus, Toronto International Environmental Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival, West Hollywood
Public Citizen Water Justice Film Festival
Gimli Film Festival
Taos Mountain Film Festival
Bioneers Moving Image Film Festival
The Green Film Festival, Washington DC
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Plymouth Independendent Film Festival
Dallas Video Festival
Global Visions Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada
Olympia Film Festival
Seoul Labor Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel
World Social Forum Film Festival, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Kaohsiung International Labor Film Festival, Taiwan
Bangalore Film Society - Water Film Festival
Marin Environmental Film Festival
Catalonia International Environmental Film Festival, Spain
EcoCinema, Athens, Greece
EcoCine (International Environmental Film Festival), Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, Brazil
Muddy River Environmental Film Festival
World Community Film Festival
MountainTop Film Festival, Waitsfield, VT
U.S. Social Forum Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival
Amazing Earthfest, Kanab UT
Sustainable Planet Film Festival
Festival de Cine Ambiental Voces, Colombia
Citizenship and Civics
Latin American Studies
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