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Four stories for one water

The fifth edition of the We Art Water Film Festival has just announced its four winners. The short films confirm, once again, the value of cinema as a tool to convey and share knowledge and emotions, two essential elements to make progress in the enormous planetary challenge: we have one water but very different ways of having access and relating to it.

As always, it was much more than a gala, it was an act of friendship and togetherness in raising awareness of the value of water and the fight against the threat of its deterioration. The fifth edition of the We Art Water Film Festival presented its awards on the 22nd March, World Water Day, in a ceremony that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was held in a hybrid format, in-person and online, from the emblematic Roca Barcelona Gallery.  

The gala, which was presented by Carlos Garriga, director of the We Are Water Foundation and Xavi Torras, Roca’s Brand Communication director, was hosted by journalist and TV presenter Elena Sánchez, who pointed out the significance of the day chosen for the awards ceremony: “This ceremony should always take place on World Water Day. Is there any better day to do it?”

Carlos Garriga highlighted the significance of the Festival, which started 10 years ago, practically at the same time as the work of the Foundation: “In these ten years we have enjoyed, shared, cried, laughed and been moved by very different stories from all around the world. 10 years in which we have been able to bring water and sanitation to the most disadvantaged areas of the planet. So far we have changed the lives of more than 1.8 million people in 23 countries with 69 projects. We mustn’t forget there are still over 2 billion people without access to water and more than 4 billion without safe sanitation. The slogan of World Water Day is “What does water mean to you?” This is the right question to begin this gala. We will find many answers in the Festival’s short films.”

Xavier Torras, who was the director of the Foundation until one year ago, highlighted the work carried out by the Festival: “Since its first edition in 2011, which started with 600 participants, until today, with over 3,300, we have seen the festival grow with every edition. Perhaps the increased visibility of climate change and the water problems has made participation reach all the countries of the world."

Indeed, the Festival is a privileged window to the world of water and sanitation that is constantly expanding, thereby consolidating cinematographic quality levels that transform all submitted short films into one of the best tools to convey the value of water. Elena, who was also a member of the jury, pointed out that in this fifth edition, the Festival has broken all participation and quality records: “3,362 registered authors from 131 countries. It is an impressive number that thrills us.”

It is possible to tell revealing and moving stories of denunciation about our complicated and conflicting relationship with water in only three minutes. These stories can also invite us to seek solutions to the serious injustices suffered by those who lack water and to the inevitable degradation of water caused by its improper use. The messages of the authors also convey a message of optimism to move forward in an uncertain future, by generating confidence in our capacity to restore and take care of the most necessary good for the sustainability of the planet.

This is the great value brought to the world by each edition of the We Art Water Film Festival. The four winners, chosen from a spectacular cast of 45 finalists, speak for themselves.

In the micro-animation category, the winner was Maji by the Spaniard César Díaz Meléndez.  The author uses the technique of sand on glass as a powerful and suggestive tool to convey the dire consequences of polluted water for our life on the planet, how it affects people and the environment. “I filmed it during the pandemic, with a camera and sand from the beach in Valencia,” César stated. “I never thought I would come this far.”

In the micro-fiction category, Locker, bySelvaraj R shows in a series of deep shots a brilliant metaphor about the value of water, which acquires a special relevance in arid India. “It has been very motivating to participate in the Festival. What I express in this film is very important for me,” declared Selvaraj.

In the micro-documentary category, the one with the highest number of participants, the winner adds a new human approach to the terrible environmental disaster of the Aral Sea, undoubtedly one of the most shocking in recent history. Life Without Guarantee, by Qudrat, from Uzbekistan, shows the profound cultural gap caused by the disappearance of water and its replacement by a sand desert. Qudrat sent a message: “We had a wonderful sea, but it disappeared very rapidly. If you have a similar sea let me tell you: do your best to preserve it!”  

The Audience Award went to Lágrimas de la Tierra (Tears of the Earth) by David Ballesteros. The short filmrecalls the figure of Tenampi, a farmer whose father died due to water pollution, the disaster of the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers, which suffered the spill of 40,000 cubic meters of copper sulfate in 2014, in what has been defined as the worst environmental disaster caused by mining in the country. David pointed out the importance of joint actions to face the future of water: “It is a call for multiple social responsibility among civilians, who can reduce consumption and force companies to develop their social and environmental awareness even further. It is also a call to work together with governments and NGOs to make sure water reaches everyone and does not deteriorate.”

You can see the high quality of the pieces in the 45 finalists. There are as many ways to relate to water as there are people on Earth, but filmmaking is a universal language that encompasses them all. Carlos Jiménez Renjifo, member of the jury in all five editions of the Festival, made it very clear: “Cinema is a tool for denunciation. This is why this competition is so important; I realized it in the first edition. Climate change is no joke, the lack of water and sanitation is an unacceptable, immoral and obscene issue. We have to know about it and take full responsibility for it. This is why the contribution of the festival is so important, it lets people know what is happening, raising awareness. I am deeply grateful to the We Art Water Film Festival.”

We will meet again for the We Art Water Film Festival 6!