DIR: Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky• WRI: Jennifer Baichwal

With water charges being all the rage around Ireland at the moment, it’s rather interesting timing that Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s documentary on how water is viewed within different cultures should arrive into Irish cinemas, especially since we as a nation largely take water for granted.

Watermark is a very interesting documentary and not just because of its subject matter. It’s interesting in the way it is presented. There is no narrative and no agenda set by Baichwal or Burtynsky. Instead, the audience is presented with an array of incredible images and first-hand accounts of water usage and how water is treated in various societies, be it for work or spiritual needs.

The images of scorched desert, luxurious lagoons and water pollution often made this reviewer think about how lucky we really have it with plentiful supplies of water at our disposal.

The editing is quite well done in places as we are shown around a scorched and parched landscape devoid of water to suddenly being whisked away to Las Vegas’ famous Bellagio Fountains. It’s a thought-provoking piece of editing that can make the audience challenge as to how much of a waste of water goes into providing entertainment when other areas not too far away are struggling and in turn affect people’s livelihoods.

Watermark is not without its faults however. The film relies on its striking imagery and while it is pretty to look at, the lack of narrative and the quick editing feels fragmented leaving the audience member sometimes confused as to what is actually going on.

The first-hand accounts of various individuals are interesting, however, again, these stories are fragmented and jump back and forth between edits, which is a little confusing at times.

Despite this, Watermark is a documentary well worth your time, though with all the sights and sounds of gushing water I would advise using the bathroom beforehand.

Shane Saunders


92 minutes

Watermark is released 5th September

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