Not only is there a looming water shortage, but nearly all of the so called “fresh” water we do have is contaminated by chemicals, many of which cause cancer, birth defects and a variety of other horrific diseases thanks to irresponsible industrial practices, EPA approval of chemicals without thorough testing and a lack of pharmaceutical filtration. Jessica Yu’s Last Call At The Oasis pulls back the veil on a little talked about problem that is literally apocalyptic is scope. Things are looking bad folks, but before we can change things we as a society must acknowledge the problem, or, in the words of Jay Famiglietti, a hydrology scientist working with NASA, “We’re screwed.”
The thought of turning on the faucet and having nothing come out because there is literally no water is a scary thought, but within 60 to 100 years it could become a reality if we as a society aren’t careful. Within four years the Hoover Dam might lose the capacity to produce electricity because Lake Mead may not be high enough to pump water into it. This would be detrimental to the surrounding region, especially the electro-hungry night life found in Las Vegas. There are similar water crises developing currently in 35 different states.
From the opening credits of the film, it is glaringly obvious that Last Call At The Oasis is going to be a stylish and highly intelligent production. The slow motion water droplets are as playful yet ominous as the opening sequence of Dexter. Calling upon top H20 scientists, like Famiglietti and Peter Gleick, as well as activists like Robert Glennon, the author of Unquenchable and the famed lawyer, Erin Brockovich, the film is filled with impassioned arguments with hard science to back their claims of our troubled future. Evening out the deathly serious subject matter is a wide variety of humorous archival footage, smartly timed edits and a well positioned celebrity guest in Jack Black to mockingly pitch bottled recycled sewer water (in America plans to produce recycled water for public taps have failed due to unreasonable community disgust, while places like Singapore have a highly efficient water recycling system in place that are actually as clean as distilled water).
Last Call makes it clear that our water problems stem from two very clear sources. The biggest and most obvious, is our ever multiplying human population. There are just too many of us for our poor little planet, and we just can’t seem to stop using and abusing our most precious resource. Not only are we wasting our water supply on a personal level through watering our lawns or not using water efficient appliances, but nearly everything that we use and consume needs an obscene amount of water to craft (Example: 18,000 gallons of water is needed to produce 4 lbs of steak). The second root of the problem is our personal ignorance and governmental avoidance of the issue. Instead of looking into the future, our government has instead focused on economic profit in the here and now, sacrificing public safety in the process, and they are just starting to realize the folly of their ways. Yu’s highly important film is a wake up call, and it does so with deafening facts and striking focus.
Reviewed on September 13th at the 2011 Toronto Int. Film Festival – REAL to REEL Programme