Last week the festival completed its fourth edition in Zaragoza, a Spanish city famous for its folklore, its cuisine and historical landmarks such as the Basílica del Pilar, La Seo Cathedral and the The Aljafería Palace. Zaragoza also hosted Expo 2008 in the summer of 2008, an international fair on water and sustainable development. The festival Ecozine aims to bring stories that talk about our earth and how humans interact with it, at times with love and care and unfortunately, often wounding her. The fundamental aim of the festival is to showcase, support and promote films made on environment. As a free and open space, the festival sets out to inform, disseminate awareness and contribute to a world that is more environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Among the various films showcased at the festival this year, Thirsty City, a documentary film by Indian Filmmaker Nikhil Sablania became the show stealer of the event. The film tells the crippling challenge that not only Indians but millions of others face around the world, the water crisis. Like other resources water has also become an asset of rich and middle classes, with the poor being increasingly deprived of this basic need. Indian villages have a long history of water crisis. But when people from villages migrated to cities, they had a hope that these urban settlements would provide them the basic resource of life. But things were to go worse for the poor in cities, access to water remains to be a daunting task they have to face each day.
Nikhil’s film is set right in the gleaming capital city of India, New Delhi. The film captures the moment where the slum dwellers are getting a water supply after five days. The film shows how these poor slum dwellers in Delhi, who are working hard to build this high tech metropolis for the exclusive convenience of the privileged class, wait endlessly for the basis of survival- water. The film shows their plight, their struggle, and their hopes.
On asking director Nikhil Sablania why he chose only poor slum dwellers whereas water scarcity is common in Delhi, he said “Even if there is scarcity of water in Delhi, the wealthier neighborhoods are the first to get water while poor sections of Delhi are entirely deprived till the last drop is distributed to commercial units and rich people. Are poor people not human beings? Is their tireless hard work any less contribution to the development of Delhi? These people who are building the city of pride for the nation are suffering the most and so I have chosen to show their plight rather than the middle or upper class.”
The film generated a great curiosity among audience from around the world and particularly from Spain who were interested too see a film from India. “We want to continue to be an open window and provide a space for all those realities, all so different. We talk about the difficulties but also the solutions with an active and critical culture attitude that promotes respect and conservation of our natural environment,”