TIFF 2013 Review: Watermark
A documentary in the purest sense of the word, Watermark is a catalog, quiet and distant. Directors Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky, who collaborated for Manufactured Landscapes a few years back, return with a photo essay about the many ways in which humans interact, use, and abuse water. The results are most alien and startling, with images that are unforgettable and in fact quite unfamiliar.
It begins with a rather strange cascade of water that fills the screen and bombards the ears. The camera pulls backs to shown its true form, one that has been influenced and altered by humankind. We then proceed on a journey across the globe, and it bears repeating that very rarely do the incredibly high quality images resemble this Earth – it’s eerie.
From an utterly barren river bed to a colossal dam, from tanning facilities in India to the National Ice Core in Denver, with stops in Greenland, California, and the East China Sea along the way, Watermark is a globetrotting and mind-blowing exploration.
There is little dialogue in this sometimes lyrical film, but Burtynsky does show up a few times, and it seems out of place, especially in one scene where he promotes his book. Another moment of humble-bragging, impressive still, shows him setting up his sufficiently impressive and complicated equipment to capture the desired shot.
Still, what you see will linger, and it’s certainly meant to inform. This is a film that should be seen on the biggest and highest quality screen possible.
Friday September 6 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 – 7:00 PM
Sunday September 8 – Scotiabank 13 9:00 AM