SPAG Media Festival H20mx Discussion - Alejandra Luceaga
From Kathryn Gentilello on April 20th, 2017
(José Cohen; Doc.; 82 min.; English subtitles; Mexico, 2014)Film Description:
A driver who was kidnapped for the contents of his water truck. A man filling dozens of fifty-gallon drums with water, in an urban neighborhood whose residents have spent more than three decades fighting for running water. Large drifts of industrial foam billowing through the air from a drainage canal, and contaminating crops with heavy metals and coliforms. These are just some of the striking moments in H2OMX, a masterful, award-winning documentary about getting water to and from the 22 million people of Mexico City.
Built on a basin surrounded by mountains and with little drainage, the city is facing a water crisis driven by geography, population, and history. With a growing population, a depleted aquifer, and 40 percent of the water being brought in by aqueduct from another drainage area being lost to leaky pipes, the challenges are huge. H20 MX captures the scope of the problem by taking us to a wide range of locations in and near the municipality, and introducing us to people dealing with a wide range of water-related issues. On the fringes of the city, we meet residents who can only access water by filling large jugs and hauling them back home with donkeys. We visit what will one day be the largest wastewater treatment plant in the country, only to learn that it is already five years behind schedule, and won't deal with many of the contaminants that make crops irrigated with the water dangerous to eat.
Meanwhile, as residents struggle to get access to fresh water, periodic floods—caused by storm sewers overwhelmed with torrential rains and sewage—overflow on a regular basis. There are solutions: a pair of enthusiastic young industrial designers are helping rural communities install rainwater harvesting systems that, together, are collecting millions of gallons of water a year; fixing leaky pipes could mean not having to go as far afield for water; and proper treatment can allow purified water to go back into the aquifer. But none of this will be easy—and time is running out.
From stunning shots millions of gallons of water on the move to Mexico City and aerial views of a drainage canal choked with miles of garbage, to interviews with those trying to solve the water problem and those who must live with it every day, H2OMX captures the complexities of trying to provide one of the most basic of human rights—access to clean water—to one of the world's megalopolises.