New film by UM professor showcases global water conditions

One Water is a 20-minute film produced and directed by School of Communication associate professor Sanjeev Chatterjee, director of the Center for Advancement of Modern Media. The film opened the Florida Room’s Documentary Film Festival in Miami Beach on Feb 9. The film was shot in five countries-India, South Africa, Spain, the United States and Peru-and seeks to educate people by featuring the variations of water conditions around the world.

Shot in high-definition format, with very limited narration, the film uses its visuals to shed light on an ongoing crisis.

“In 2002 in Johannesburg, I heard someone say that if the wars of the 20th century were fought over oil, the wars of the 21st century would be fought over water,” Chatterjee said. “Living in South Florida, I came to realize that the visual evidence of what was being talked about was not apparent to people living in South Florida where it seems that there is plenty. Where you jump in the shower and you don’t really think about it. You can take a long shower if you want, with hot water.”

Also collaborating on this film was Ed Talavera, professor of Motion Pictures, as the director of photography; Ali Habashi from the College of Engineering, as the editor; and Tom Sleeper, director of orchestral activities, from the Philip and Patricia Frost School of Music, as the conductor/composer/arranger of the music.

“The fact that our film is non-verbal demands [a] high level of responsibility to my job as the editor of the film to observe, learn and feel inside the issues, the pains or sometimes joys of the people we met on our trips and reflect those unique moments on a large screen as honest while engaging as possible,” Habashi said.

“Although the policy stays level, there is a lot of discussion about how we will handle the issues of water as growth and development continue at the rate that it’s continuing in South Florida,” Chatterjee said.

The film received two awards from the Broadcast Education Association and was screened twice at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Since its release in 2004, the film has been shown in many places, from the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to small villages in Ecuador, Bangladesh and India.

“All water is really one because water that’s here in the Everglades evaporates and becomes a cloud that moves,” Chatterjee said. “There is now evidence that water in the Great Lakes of the United States is contaminated by factories in Asia because of the cycle of water.”

Chatterjee hopes to have a feature length film with the same name by the middle of this year, having completed shooting in 14 countries.

“I’ve yet to see the entire film but the portions that I’ve seen in high definition are magnificent,” Paul Driscoll, director of the School of Communication, said.

One Water is also part of a series at UM, which is being shown as a live concert with the Frost Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts with the Florida Youth Orchestra.

“Because there are no words, people tend to interpret the visuals according to their own circumstances,” Chatterjee said.

Ashley Guistolisi can be contacted at