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pumped_dry_documentaryPUMPED DRY: THE GLOBAL CRISIS OF VANISHING GROUNDWATER

Directed by Steve Elfers

India, Morocco, Peru, USA | 62 min

Filmmaker in attendnce

Much of the planet relies on groundwater. And in places around the world – from the United States to Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America – so much water is pumped from the ground that aquifers are being rapidly depleted and wells are going dry.

Groundwater is disappearing beneath cornfields in Kansas, rice paddies in India, asparagus farms in Peru and orange groves in Morocco. As these critical water reserves are pumped beyond their limits, the threats are mounting for people who depend on aquifers to supply agriculture, sustain economies and provide drinking water. In some areas, fields have already turned to dust and farmers are struggling.

Climate change is projected to increase the stresses on water supplies, and heated disputes are erupting in places where those with deep wells can keep pumping and leave others with dry wells. Even as satellite measurements have revealed the problem’s severity on a global scale, many regions have failed to adequately address the problem. Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up.

In this project, USA TODAY and The Desert Sun investigate the consequences of this emerging crisis in several of the world’s hotspots of groundwater depletion. These are stories about people on four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out.

Additional credits

Reporting, Visuals and Data: Ian James,Steve Elfers,Steve Reilly
Project Editors: Greg Burton,John Hillkirk,John Kelly
Interactives: Shawn Sullivan,Mitchell Thorson,Hannah Weiner,Jim Sergent,Olga Norwood,Jeff Dionise,Keith Carter,Ramon Padilla,Jerry Mosemak,Kevin Kepple,Jonathan Dang
Additional Team Members: Beryl Love,Julie Iannuzzi,Marilyn Chung,Shayla Brooks,Holly Moore

Contact: Website


SustainableSUSTAINABLE

Directed by Matt Wechsler

Colorado Premiere | 96 min

A vital investigation of the economic and environmental instability of America’s food system, from the agricultural issues we face — soil loss, water depletion, climate change, pesticide use — to the community of leaders who are determined to fix it. Sustainable is a film about the land, the people who work it and what must be done to sustain it for future generations.

The narrative of the film focuses on Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer in central Illinois who watched his land and community fall victim to the pressures of big agribusiness. Determined to create a proud legacy for his son, Marty transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago.

Additional credits

Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher are the storytellers at Hourglass Films behind Sustainable. The film is a passion project for them, combining a shared love of food with their talents as documentary filmmakers. Their past work includes the 2012 New York Emmy-nominated documentary “Different is the New Normal”, which aired nationally on PBS and was narrated by Michael J. Fox. In 2013, they were nominated for a Chicago Emmy Award as producers for the television show “Grannies on Safari: The Colors of Cuba”. In October of 2014, they completed the 30-minute film “I Am For Peace”, a documentary that follows a group of high school students as they attempt to combat violence in Chicago. Their love of storytelling is the driving force behind what they do.

Contact: Website


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