If you’ve watched “The Big Short” – the 2015 multiple Oscar-nominated dramedy based on the 2010 book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–2008 – you’ll remember the epilogue, during which the fate of the main characters are told; specifically, that of Michael Burry (one of the first investors to predict the housing bubble that led to the crisis). According to the film, after raking in a gazillion dollars from the crisis, Burry decided to shift his investment focus to water commodities. Without getting into the intricacies of how one trades water, I mention all this because, based on recent and ongoing water-related catastrophes in the USA, it appears that Burry may have been onto something at the time he started pouring (pun intended) his money into the commodity.
Announced today, 2 water-related documentaries executive produced by Academy Award winner, and one of the most revered documentary filmmakers today, Alex Gibney, have have been picked up by the National Geographic channel to broadcast next month (March): “Water & Power: A California Heist” and “Parched: Global Water Wars.”
The gist… More than 500 million people around the world lack access to clean drinking water. Global warming, drought, overconsumption, corporate greed, terrorism and political corruption have all contributed to a stark reality where fresh water is scarce, expensive and not a guaranteed human right. Many people know about the disaster in Flint, Michigan, where thousands were poisoned by government negligence. What they do not know is that this tragedy is part of a larger, much lesser known story that began in Detroit. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, fast-rising water fees resulted in thousands of residents without access to water in their homes, and precipitated Flint’s disastrous decision to draw water from the Flint River.
— First, following a successful debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, is the feature documentary “Water & Power: A California Heist.” Directed by Emmy award winner Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”) and executive produced by Gibney and Jigsaw Productions, the film unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir “Chinatown,” as it peels back the layers of California’s history of water manipulations. Following a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles March 3, “Water & Power: A California Heist” (trailer below) will air globally on National Geographic in 171 countries and 45 languages starting March 14 at 9/8c.
Through candid interviews with award-winning journalists, local citizens, activists, state officials, environmental attorneys, farmers, investors, scientists and developers, “Water & Power: A California Heist” examines pivotal events that now jeopardize the state’s groundwater reserves and explores one of the most urgent crises of our time: the privatization of a natural resource that is essential to our survival as a species. While recent rains have eased the drought across California, the ongoing drama of the groundwater story — impacted by decades of pumping — is only now coming to light.
— And second, beginning on Tuesday, March 21, at 9/8c, National Geographic and Jigsaw Productions will present “Parched: Money Flows,” “Parched: Toxic Waters” and Parched: Global Water Wars, a three-part companion series narrated by Gibney that investigates water wars from West Virginia and Michigan (think Flint and elsewhere) to Syria and India. The series explores the corporate, political and social interests that are responsible for our water-limited future. This series explores an alarming trend in the water sector, where Wall Street banks control municipalities, ultimately holding the everyday American’s water supply in their grip. It also zeros in on the world’s most vulnerable hot spots for water-related conflict. In the shadowy outskirts of India’s capital city, a powerful water mafia steals water from government and private reserves, and sells it to those who can pay the hefty price. Meanwhile in Syria, ISIS uses the region’s limited water supply as a weapon, capturing dams and leaving the locals who depend on them helpless.
With our livelihood at stake, Americans and the world are waking up to a stark reality: Water is the next commodity, and it is rapidly growing more valuable. As a California resident warns us, “You’re going to be next. Just watch, you’re going to be next.”
“Water & Power: A California Heist” and the 3-part “Parched” are produced for National Geographic Channels by Jigsaw Productions. For Jigsaw Productions, executive producers are Alex Gibney, Stacey Offman, Lynne Kirby and Erica Sashin and co-executive producer is Richard Perello. For the feature documentary, Marina Zenovich is director and executive producer. For National Geographic Channels, Kevin Tao Mohs is executive producer and Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production.