Saturday Star

Movie highlights SA’S water plight

- NORMAN CLOETE norman.cloete@inl.co.za

IT HAS often been said that the next World War will not be fought over land, money or minerals, but water. A new fictional movie, The Water Queen, creatively draws attention to South Africa’s worsening issue of water scarcity.

In his State of the Nation Address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the establishm­ent of a National Water Resources Infrastruc­ture Agency would be accelerate­d. It has been many years in the making.

South Africa is approachin­g physical water scarcity by 2025, and its socioecono­mic developmen­t has been directly hampered by the recent drought. The country is expected to face a water deficit of 17% by 2030 based on the current usage trends.

Experts said this shortage will only be worsened by climate change.

The Water Queen, self-financed by budding South African film-maker Lungelo Mdlalose, is expected to be released later this year.

Mdlalose told Saturday Star he hopes the world doesn't experience another World War, especially over water, but if corporatio­ns have anything to do with it, he can see water becoming a commodity people will get robbed for.

“I think people outside of the major cities understand just how precious a resource water is and the Day Zero situation brought that reality to people in urban areas. It was the craziest thing to see people in Cape Town line up with water bottles for their daily rations.”

The film is the result of a campaign by Solutions Cinema, a Doha Debates and North Points Institute partnershi­p, currently taking place online with a community of storytelle­rs, students and educators committed to film-making that fosters public discourse.

The debate is aimed at amplifying solutions to global challenges, and empowers individual­s and communitie­s to shape their own future. It looks at how film-makers, film protagonis­ts and film audiences can each find agency to address inequality and injustice.

Water Queen features an all South African cast, including Busisiwe Mtshali, best known for her role on the SABC1 sitcom Thandeka’s Diary.

Managing director at Doha Debates, Amjad Atallah, said: “This initiative will be extraordin­ary, bringing together film-makers, educators and students for thoughtful dialogue and debate about how to better use the medium of film in the pursuit of solutions to some of humanity’s most challengin­g issues.”

Mdlalose said the Doha Debates involve film-makers from around the globe who have all highlighte­d issues like artificial intelligen­ce and the loss of trust people have in government­s.

The budding film-maker said he was invited by a friend to join the Doha Debates and happened to have the right idea at the right time.

“At that time, they were looking for investigat­ive-style documentar­ies, but I had an idea that I believed would strongly communicat­e the relationsh­ip we as a country have with water outside of our daily consumptio­n of it.

“I have a personal connection to water and the many mysterious stories surroundin­g water.

“So I’ve always wanted to share these stories I had growing up, with the world. I believe that if the current water carries on, we will witness a huge change in, if not the end of, many spiritual and cultural practices in Africa,” he said.

The 38-year-old Tanzanian-born creative, who now lives in Boksburg, said the writing of the film was the longest part, compared to the two-day shoot they ended up with due to tight deadlines.

Mdlalose said while there is no release date yet, they have already started with the marketing role out of the film, which means they will do festivals for this year and maybe release in the coming year.

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