A film by Jennifer Baichwal & Edward Burtynsky
“Without water we are nothing, the traveller thought. Even an emperor, denied water, would swiftly turn to dust.
Water is the real monarch, and we are all its slaves.”
— Salman Rushdie
Every living thing requires water. We humans interact with it in a myriad of ways, numerous times a day. But how often do we consider the complexity of that interaction? And, unless confronted by scarcity, when do we meditate on its ubiquity in creating, sustaining and enriching life?
Watermark is a feature documentary film that brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. We see massive floating abalone farms off China’s Fujian coast and the construction site of the biggest arch dam in the world – the Xiluodu, six times the size of the Hoover. We visit the barren desert delta where the mighty Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean, and the water-intensive leather tanneries of Dhaka.
We witness how humans are drawn to water, from the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, where thirty million people gather for a sacred bath in the Ganges at the same time. We speak with scientists who drill ice cores two kilometers deep into the Greenland Ice Sheet, and roam the sublime pristine watersheds of Northern British Columbia.
Shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows water as a terraforming element and the scale of its reach, as well as the magnitude of our need and use. This is balanced by forays into the particular: a haunting memory of a stolen river, a mysterious figure roaming ancient rice terraces, the crucial data hidden in a million year old piece of ice, a pilgrim’s private ritual among thousands of others at the water’s edge.
Watermark is directed by multiple award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, and is the third part of Burtynsky’s Water project, which includes a book Burtynsky: Water and a major photographic exhibition. Filmed and produced by Nicholas de Pencier and three years in the making, it is a logical extension of the trio’s previous collaboration, Manufactured Landscapes. In Watermark, the viewer is immersed in a world defined by a magnificent force of nature that we all too often take for granted- until it’s gone.