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WATERMARK

Director: JENNIFER BAICHWAL, EDWARD BURTYNSKY

92 minutes, Canada, 2013, Colour, D-Cinema


With a truly staggering opening scene shot at the colossal Xiluodu Dam in southwest China, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s documentary instantly captures the prodigious force of water. The focus then shifts to give way to a new setting where, rather than unmanageable excess, we are confronted by desert land where, a local explains, the Colorado River that used to run by has completely dried up.

What emerges is a documentary that is as interested in scientific fact as it is in philosophical ideas relating to our complex relationship with water, looking in detail at how it shapes us and how we attempt, and often fail, to control it. Not unlike Attenborough’s Blue Planet in terms of effect and breath-taking imagery, Watermark is a contemplative rather than alarmist eco-study that bypasses narrative in favour of something altogether more fluid and is documentary at its most cinematic. (Notes by Alice Butler.)

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