2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: WATER & POWER: A CALIFORNIA HEIST

water & powerWATER & POWER: A CALIFORNIA HEIST
Marina Zenovich uncovers the long-standing battle that’s being waged for control of the most precious of natural resources.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Special Program:
The New Climate

Sundance Program Description:

This thrilling investigation uncovers the high-level corruption behind California’s long-standing water crisis. Sweeping cinematography of California’s harsh, dry landscape asks us to visualize a fight for water in what feels like a modern day CHINATOWN. Filmmaker Marina Zenovich peels back the layers of California’s convoluted water structure – wealthy water barons show their guilty hand in exploiting the state’s resource, while small farmers and neighboring towns endure debilitating drought. We see luxury crops, like almonds, on the rise and groundwater contamination increasing tenfold, pitting back-room business dealings against human and environmental costs.

Zenovich returns to the Sundance Film Festival with this cleverly orchestrated exposé. She takes us into the stark realities of small California towns, where paying for showers is the norm – bringing light to the growing divide between water haves and have nots.

This natural resource is only growing more valuable as the new war for water is already upon us. This daring and extremely timely documentary asks us to question who has control of our access to our water.

Some Background:
Director/Producer:

  • Marina Zenovich
    Past Sundance docs:

    ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED (2008, US Documentary Editing Award)

    No stranger to controversial topics, the two-time Emmy winner’s other projects include a follow-up to WANTED, and an investigation into a polarizing campus rape scandal, FANTASTIC LIES.

Producer:

  • Ted Gesing
    Past Sundance docs:

    AMERICAN TEEN (2008, associate producer)

    Gesing has also produced for CNN, HBO, Frontline, National Geographic, Investigation Discovery, Animal Planet, BET, and Court TV.

Associate Producer:

  • John Jordan
    This is Jordan’s first feature credit. He previously served as a researcher on Jigsaw Productions’ Sundance Special Events docuseries, THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS (2016).

Supervising Producer:

  • Isaac Bolden
    Past Sundance credits:

    THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS (series)

    Bolden has extensive credits in reality television and docuseries.

Co-Producer:

  • Juliette Eisner
    This is Eisner’s first Sundance credit. She previously produced content for Vice, including LIL BUB & FRIENDZ, which she also directed.

Consulting Producer:

  • PG Morgan
    Past Sundance docs:

    ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED (co-producer)

    Morgan also serves as a series producer of 2017 Sundance Special Events selection
    THE HISTORY OF COMEDY

Executive Producers:

  • Alex Gibney
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS
    GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF (2015)
    FINDING FELA! (2014)
    HISTORY OF THE EAGLES PART ONE (2013, producer)
    WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (2013)
    MAGIC TRIP (2011)
    CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY (2010)
    GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR HUNTER S THOMPSON (2008)
    LOVE COMES LATELY (2008, executive producer)
    NO END IN SIGHT (2007, executive producer)
    WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? (2006, consulting producer)
    ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM (2005)
    THE BLUES (2003, producer)

    The prolific Jigsaw Pictures Oscar-winning director/producer is also an executive producer of fellow 2017 US Documentary Competition title CITY OF GHOSTS.

  • Stacey Offman
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS
    WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? (2008)

    Jigsaw Productions’ Offman has been an executive producer for Gibney’s most recent docs and series, including the Oscar-shortlisted ZERO DAYS, STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE, COOKED, and DEATH ROW STORIES, and also serves in the same role for CITY OF GHOSTS.

  • Lynne Kirby
    Though the former Sundance TV executive has previously been a panelist and moderator, this marks her first festival credit.

  • Erica Sashin
    Sashin has a background producing for A&E, Thirteen, Frontline, and National Geographic. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • National Geographic’s Tim Pastore and Kevin Tao Mohs
    This is the first festival credit for both the President of Original Programming and Production and the VP, Production and Development.

Co-Executive Producer:

  • Richard Perello
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE NEW YORKER PRESENTS

    The Jigsaw Productions’ COO and EVP of Production also served as producer for Sundance narrative alumni projects, including SUPER TROOPERS (2001).

Editors:

Why You Should Watch:
Despite its California focus, Zenovich’s gripping inquiry has far-reaching implications that take on a national, if not global, importance. Part of The New Climate thematic programming strand, the film poses essential questions about the future of what’s meant to be a basic human right.

More Info:
Meet the Artist

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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