The thought-provoking and inspiring new feature documentary WATERSCHOOL, created by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in partnership with Swarovski, began streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, July 25 following screenings earlier in the year at the Sundance Film Festival, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, at UCLA TFT during Oscar week and at the Cannes Film Festival in France.
WATERSCHOOL shines a light on one of the greatest issues facing mankind: safeguarding the continuing supply of fresh water. The feature documentary follows the stories of six girls and young women, living along the major rivers of the world, whose lives have been empowered and transformed by the Swarovski Waterschool educational programs.
The film beautifully reveals the work of Swarovski Waterschool, a community investment program set up in 2000 that has reached almost a half-million young people through 2,400 schools worldwide in locations as varied as the Nile in Uganda, the Amazon in Brazil, the Yangtze in China, the Ganges in India, the Mississippi in the United States, and the Danube in Austria.
To make WATERSCHOOL, seven final-year M.F.A. filmmaking students from UCLA TFT travelled across five continents to capture the moving stories of these girls and young women, giving voice to the generation for whom the preservation of clean water is most pressing. As a highly collaborative team effort, the students worked together on all areas of prep, production and post-production.
UCLA TFT Dean Teri Schwartz and Nadja Swarovski, member of the Swarovski Executive Board, were producers on the film. Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker served as distinguished mentor on the project. Emmy award-winning composer Alex Wurman created the film's beautiful score.
Water has been at the heart of the Swarovski story since it was founded in 1895. The family-run company relies on small-scale hydro-electric power at its manufacturing site in the Austrian Alps and recycles 70% of the water it uses to produce crystal. The Swarovski family set up Waterschool to teach young people about the importance of fresh water, and how to use it, conserve it and cherish it.
While the film's focus is on the moving stories of the girls and young women, WATERSCHOOL also highlights the extraordinary dedication of the teachers and mentors of Swarovski's Waterschool programs as they empower the students to not only take care of the world’s most valuable resource for now, but to understand the critical consequences if we do not take care of our planet for the future. The result is a powerful call to arms – for teachers and educators as much as young people themselves. As the students discover how best to husband and protect water, so they pass on their insights to their peers, parents and grandparents.
What emerges in the telling of WATERSCHOOL is an inspiring and emotive message. United by a vision of hope to save the lifeblood of the planet, the film inspires us that we have the ability to be ambassadors for water conservation. It is astonishing to see how the young people in the film take to this idea so easily and put it into action.
Alive with the optimism of youth, but transcending the boundaries of age, WATERSCHOOL leaves us in no doubt: Every one of us has the power to make a difference. As such, this film is the fullest expression of the UCLA TFT vision and mission around the infinite power of story to make a difference in the world.
In Fall 2018, Swarovski will launch a major global social action campaign to raise awareness and galvanize change through unique programs and educational initiatives keying off the ideas and experiences from the film. It will be a major call to action worldwide intended for the widest reach and highest impact.
“This project embraces principles which lie at the foundation of our philanthropic legacy – environment, female empowerment and education,” says Nadja Swarovski. “The glimpses the film offers into the lives of six young women highlight some of the issues around water within different geographic regions, and will hopefully inspire communities to focus on education and enable change. I am grateful to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and its graduate film students for making this beautiful film about our Waterschool, under the mentorship of Dean Teri Schwartz and Lucy Walker, who have brought to bear their considerable expertise in the making of documentaries and feature films.”
“It has been a great honor to partner with visionary leader Nadja Swarovski and her team to create this landmark feature documentary," says Schwartz. "I am very proud of our remarkable graduate film students, to whom Swarovski gave an unparalleled opportunity to create a film at the highest levels of creative excellence. Key to our School’s mission is providing diverse students with transformational opportunities to create stories that not only entertain, but also foster social impact. This amazing partnership with Swarovski underscores our shared belief in the power of story to not only delight and entertain, but to enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world.”
Posted: July 25, 2018