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Ed Burtynsky /Jennifer Baichwal’s Watermark (Published: Georgia Straight)

watermarkTORONTO—IF YOU THINK you know what water is, you don’t. Watermark, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s documentary shot in 5K ultra high-def video, brings us on a trip to the hyperreal extremes of what water can be at its most powerful, plentiful—or absent. Burtynsky and Baichwal shot 200 hours of footage in far-flung locations around the world, places where our ubiquitous relationship with H2O is particularly pronounced, and contested. Watching surfers at the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, soaring above the Stikine Valley in B.C.’s North, or standing under the thundering falls at the Xiluodu mega-dam in China, it’s hard not to be awed by the sheer power of water and the human activity that threatens its purity. But what Watermark—which opens Friday (October 11)—doesn’t do is draw those conclusions for us. These days, it’s rare for a documentary to abstain from spoon-feeding the audience its message.

“My perspective is that reality is messy and complex, whereas narrative is often tidy and reductive,” said Baichwal, who grew up in Victoria and now lives in Toronto, in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. “Narrative has a structure that is satisfying because it has beginning, middle, and end. It has resolution. I don’t think reality has resolution in that way. I think things are open-ended, perspectival, and complicated, and I feel like all our films have tried to honour the complexity of reality.” Read article