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Thin Line film ‘Written on Water’ discusses threat of worldwide droughts

Thin Line film ‘Written on Water’ discusses threat of worldwide droughts

Filmgoers attend a Q&A held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

Thin Line film ‘Written on Water’ discusses threat of worldwide droughts
February 22
09:50 2016

Erica Wieting | Features Editor

@ericawieting

A series of video landscape shots intermingle with brief cuts of farm life. Music plays as the scenes roll.

At 8:15 p.m. Friday night in the Campus Theatre, a crowd of film lovers filled nearly three-fourths of the theatre seats. Following a brief introduction, director Merri Lisa Trigilio’s “Written on Water” entertained and informed the audience for the next hour.

The film, part of Thin Line Film Fest, follows inhabitants of Olton, Texas and their struggle to stay afloat in a drought-ridden environment. The drought is due to the drying up of the Ogallala Aquifer, which according to the film accounts for 40 percent of all water in Texas.

“Water is really the new oil,” Trigilio said in a Q&A session after the film. “It’s what people are going to be having issues over.”

Reed Underwood asks questions during the Q&A held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

Reed Underwood asks questions during the Q&A held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

The film introduces a number of irrigated farmers, including J.O. Dawdy, who created the Protect Water Rights Coalition in response to the government’s proposed solutions to the water problem.

Slower parts of the film—such as those following city council meetings and legislative decisions—are offset with scenes of normal life on the farm. Some elicited laughs from the audience, but through self-invented methods farmers used to water their crops as conservatively as possible, many scenes showed how serious the drought was, and still is today.

Following the film, Dawdy spoke about satellite imaging technology that PWRC member Glynn Schur uses to see which parts of his farm need water. Dawdy said being a small farmer is nearly impossible now because of the expenses.

“The big companies are fine with letting the individual farmers take the hit,” he said. “My parents made a very good living on 300 to 400 acres. You can’t do that anymore.”

Former teacher John Clarkson waits to ask a question during the Q&A session held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

Former teacher John Clarkson waits to ask a question during the Q&A session held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

The film ends on an impending note, revisiting an issue that Texas Environmental Flows Project director Sharlene Leurig raised early on in the film.

“This is a drama that is playing out worldwide,” Leurig said. “So the question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What comes after water?’”

Featured Image: Filmgoers attend a Q&A held after the premiere of Written on Water on Feb. 19. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

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