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New fictional movie highlights SA’s worsening issue of water scarcity

By Norman Cloete Time of article published May 8, 2021

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Johannesburg - It has often been said that the next World War will not be fought over land, money or minerals, but water. A new fictional movie, The Water Queen, creatively draws attention to South Africa’s worsening issue of water scarcity.

In his State of the Nation Address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the establishment of a National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency would be accelerated. It has been many years in the making.

South Africa is approaching physical water scarcity by 2025, and its socio-economic development has been directly hampered by the recent drought and the country is expected to face a water deficit of 17% by 2030 based on the current usage trends.

Experts said this shortage will only be worsened by climate change.

The Water Queen, self-financed by budding South African filmmaker Lungelo Mdlalose, is expected to be released later this year.

Mdlalose told Saturday Star he hopes the world doesn't experience another World War, especially over water, but if corporations have anything to do with it, he can definitely see water becoming a commodity that people will get robbed for.

“I think people outside of the major cities understand just how precious a resource water is and the Day Zero situation brought that reality to people in urban areas. It was the craziest thing to see people in Cape Town line up with water bottles for their daily rations of water,” he said.

The film is the result of a campaign by Solutions Cinema, a Doha Debates and North Points Institute partnership, currently taking place online with a community of storytellers, students and educators committed to filmmaking that fosters public discourse.

The debate is aimed at amplifying solutions to global challenges and empowers individuals and communities to shape their own future and looks at how filmmakers, film protagonists and film audiences can each find agency to address inequality and injustice.

Water Queen features an all South African cast, including Busisiwe Mtshali, best known for her role on the SABC1 sitcom Thandeka’s Diary.

Managing director at Doha Debates, Amjad Atallah, said: “This initiative will be extraordinary, bringing together filmmakers, educators and students for thoughtful dialogue and debate about how to better use the medium of film in the pursuit of solutions to some of humanity’s most challenging issues.”

Mdlalose said the Doha Debates involve filmmakers from around the globe who have all highlighted issues like A.I. and the loss of trust people have in governments.

The budding filmmaker said he was invited by a friend to join the Doha Debates and happened to have the right idea at the right time.

“At that time, they were looking for investigative-style documentaries but I had an idea that I believed would strongly communicate the relationship we as a country have with water outside of our daily consumption of it. I have a personal connection to water and the many mysterious stories surrounding water.

So I have always wanted to share these stories I had growing up, with the world. I believe the current water crisis, if it carries on, we will witness a huge change if not the end of many spiritual and cultural practices in Africa,” he said.

The 38-year-old Tanzanian-born creative, who now lives in Boksburg, said the writing of the film was the longest part, compared to the two day shoot they ended up due to tight deadlines.

Mdlalose said while there is no exact release date yet, they have already started with the marketing role out of the film, which means they will do festivals for this year and maybe release in the coming year.

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