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Astutely crafted, The Water Front instantly evokes intrigue, compassion and at times outrage toward the issues and characters presented. The films’ engaging narrative will certainly captivate a wide audience and serve as an ideal educational tool. No matter your ideological position, this film clearly defines the relevant and global concerns we face about water today.
Colleen Ayoup, Project Coordinator Citizen Shift, National Film Board of Canada
This is a deeply moving and sometimes devastating look at the race and
Scott Braid, Maryland Film Festival.
Undoubtedly water will be one of the key issues to be fought over in the 21st century—whether you live in Highland Park, Michigan or Soweto, South Africa.To date people in Highland Park struggle to pay their highly inflated water bills in order to stay in their homes and keep their families together. The Water Front is an amazing movie that chronicles the institutional abuses of citizens in a city where fresh water resources are abundant.The threat of privatization and the commoditization of water strike a devastating blow to the working class and those least able to eke out a living. This movie should be viewed by everyone concerned about the survival of our communities and the just and equitable distribution of water resources
Bunyan Bryant, Ph.D. Director of the Environmental Justice Initiative at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
What happens when neoliberal policies come home? The brilliant and engaging new documentary The Water Front offers a sobering and eye-opening account of a privatization scheme and its effects on the poor and working class citizens of Highland Park, Michigan. Filmmaker Elizabeth Miller tells the stirring tale of a declining U.S. city and the valiant struggle of residents, inspired and led by African American women, to literally fight City Hall. This film is particularly arresting and provocative because of the object of struggle: control over the water supply.
This well-crafted documentary film should be especially useful in making connections between neoliberal policies abroad and their counterparts here in our own backyard. It is ideal for community activists, NGOs and for high school and college teachers and students in urban studies, community studies, African-American studies, women’s and gender studies, state and local politics, social work, community economics, globalization and environmental studies.
Bruce Pietrykowski, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Economics
Elizabeth Miller's The Water Front is a powerful and moving account of a community taking control over its water and, in the process, making democracy work. If you thought water scarcity was still largely a "natural" problem in the developing world, this film makes it frighteningly clear how opportunistic entrepreneurs, in a time of growing environmental crisis, treat water as a commodity to be traded for their profit. This inspiring film shows a group of citizens successfully fighting the privatization of their water, the assault on their property, and slowing, for a moment, the growing inequality between the powerful and the rest.
Professor Martha Saxton, Amherst College
"The U.S. has an annual shortfall of $22 billion that is needed to invest in our water infrastructure. If we do not meet the challenge we will continue to undermine our water provision and all end up as Highland Park residents featured in THE WATER FRONT. We need to jointly face the challenge and ensure water provision for future generations. Multinational water corporations have entered the scene, but a corporate fix is a false solution to the issues faced in U.S. communities. Corporations should not set the political agenda for water management. We need materials such as THE WATER FRONT in order to start the crucial discussions of the management of our water resources. The solution requires the commitment of our elected representatives and the commitment of community members. THE WATER FRONT will help push water front and center for our decision makers who have failed to act."
Maj Fiil - Food & Water Watch
As a social work instructor, I found using THE WATERFRONT film to be a powerful learning process. Throughout a course I taught on communities and organizations, my undergraduate students were engaged in a learning process, but yet limited when it came to understanding the plight of those trapped by poverty. When the class viewed the “The Water Front.” their learning process took on a different feel. They became actively engaged. They were asking questions about their communities and the organizations that serve them. They wanted to know how something like this can happens 50 miles from where they live and not be aware of it. All the lectures and readings on how those marginalized by our society are systemically oppressed became a living reality. The film motivated the students to act. During the following class sessions, students shared how they were participating in alleviating the water crisis. Most importantly, the students began to understand how racism, sexism, and classism can take away a human essential need such as water.
We want to bring up issues, ethical issues, that don’t usually get
Elaine S. Charnov - Margaret
Miller's film does precisely what documentaries do best: it introduces us to a problem, sticks with it without losing focus and somehow makes us care deeply about the struggles of the people in front of the camera.
The Montreal Gazette, Saturday Nov. 3, 2007
Our community organization has been running a free film series on Friday nights for more than three years. We show films on a range of issues related to peace and social justice with the aim of inspiring activists to see the connections among struggles and to learn effective strategies for change. The Water Front is in the top tier of the films we have screened. I am particularly impressed by the clarity with which Miller captures the corporate perspective the unelected managers of Highland Park applied to water distribution. Her interviews with them and footage of their daily activities provide an inside look at the undermining of the democratic process and the public good. Moreover, in following Highland Park's community activists as they mounted their successful struggle, Miller provides all of us with an example of how to fight similar issues in our own cities.
--Sigrid Schmalzer, member of the Northampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq (www.northamptoncommittee.org)
A shocking expose about the privatization of the public water supply in Highland Park, Michigan. You won't believe it til you see it-- a frightful sign of the newest assault on basic human rights, directed against poor people of color. It's also a powerful story about the courageous Black women (formerly welfare rights activists) who are leading the fight against it."
Jennifer Fasulo, community organizer, feminist, filmmaker
The Water Front is a wonderful new documentary that provides a chilling example of the global trend toward making water a private commodity rather than a right of all individuals to a public good. The film highlights strong African American women in the leadership of the organized protests, and juxtaposes their voices with that of the corporate consultants to local government. The film is excellent educational material for women's studies courses as well as courses in environmental ethics and economic development. Every university and college library ought to own a copy!!
Ann Fergueson, Professor emerita, Philosophy and Women's Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"The community leaders profiled in THE WATER FRONT are good examples of the wealth of talent and experience among older adults thats ready to be tapped for solving social problems. The film is very much in line with Civic Ventures mission to reframe the debate about the aging of America by redefining the second half of life as a source of social and individual renewal."
David Banks, Executive Director, Civic Ventures.
"If you care about water and your ability to access it, you need to see THE WATER FRONT."
Ezra Winton, Programmer of Cinema Politica
"As water becomes scarcer and more expensive globally, managers of poor cities like (Highland Park) all over will be tempted to sell their most precious commodity even if they are unable to provide water to their own communities. They need viable alternative models and a commons movement that shares their dilemmas so that our beautiful Great Lakes water does not succumb to the Siren's call of the quick and fickle market. In contrast to Thirst, another recent film about water privatization, THE WATER FRONT is more like a dramatic play with a gripping plot. The music is a great combo of Detroit electronic and Joe Carter's blues and provides a moving background as the cast engages in a hometown struggle that can resonate with anyone who uses their tap and takes pride in their home."
Eunice Yu, Free Lance Journalist.