Water has played an active and important role in our world today. It is estimated that ‘663 million people lack access to clean water’ (Water.org and Stella Artois.com); a crisis which disproportionately affects women. Stella Artois has partnered with Water.org to drive awareness of the global water crisis. Stella Artois has commissioned 2015 Sundance Film Festival grand jury Prize Winner Crystal Moselle to create a three-part documentary series showcasing the impact of the global water crisis on women and the communities in which they live in Haiti, Kenya, and Peru. Crystal Moselle, the accomplished documentary film-maker and winner of the Grand Jury Prize for her documentary “Wolfpack” is well known and respected for her work, not only in filmmaking; she has also been published by Vice and the New York Times.
Moselle has chosen to partner with the Academy and Emmy winning producer Fazeelat Aslam for this eye-opening three part documentary series. Aslam is a documentary filmmaker and journalist originally from Pakistan, who has also co-produced the Oscar winning documentary short film “Saving Face”, and has produced additional documentary films for PBS Frontline, Channel 4 UK, and HBO.
Recently on their travel to Haiti for the first installment of the series, they met Marie, a mid-wife living in a Haitian community with no access to clean water. They began to document this out-going, resilient, and inspiring woman as she struggled to provide for her family and community.
JF: Was film-making always something you were drawn to?
CM: Yes. I’ve been making films since I was 15. [Laughs] I went to college, and I worked as a commercial director for many years before I started filming “Wolfpack”, which took five years. [Laughs] It was at Sundance last year, as you know.
FA: I did always want to make documentaries, from a very young age. I was always involved in social work and I initially thought I was going to be a social worker. Then, I realized that the reach of documentary film was something I really wanted to capitalize on; the messages that you can extend through documentary film can touch people in a way that social work sometimes can’t. I think social work has incredible people, and I thought, ‘How do you make sure that people across the world can see the work that they’re doing?’ I think that’s where documentary films can bring out the social work to a mass audience.
JF: Did you know each other before you decided to work together on the project?
CM: We knew each other beforehand. When Stella Artois contacted me to work on this project, I thought, “Oh! We had wanted to do something together.” Fazeelat was the perfect person to work with on this project.
FA: I had been a big fan of “Wolfpack” and when Crystal approached me to work with her; I was really excited to get on board.
JF: How long were you in Haiti before you met Marie?
CM: Two days. We were in Haiti for about 65 day’s total.
FA: We were with Marie for a little over a week, and we’re going back again for more footage of Marie. We really want to extend her story, by making it a full, rich, and really do justice to her.
JF: How did you find Marie?
CM: We heard about her through a woman we met on the streets while we were filming other ladies, and I got her information. The woman we interviewed was seven months pregnant, and we asked her, “How do you give birth and where do you give birth? How does that happen here?” She said, “Oh, my midwife lives on the next block.” So, we went over and started talking to the midwife’s family, because she wasn’t there at the time. Later, we heard this singing, and we looked over and Marie the mid-wife we were told about, was dancing and singing in the street, doing her thing. In that moment, we looked at each other and we’re like, “Ding, ding, ding.”
JF: Is what we see in the teaser how Marie truly is?
FA: Yes! There’s no telling Marie what to do; she does her own thing. Marie is a film in and of herself. She would just start doing stuff that we couldn’t even imagine or plan. We would just kind of follow her getting called to some kid and she would just start dancing and singing. We were just there following Marie’s story and capturing her.
JF: What do you hope people will take away from the documentaries?
CM: We wanted to find stories that people can connect to around clean water and women.
FA: I think about the role that water plays in our lives, and what that means; whether it’s how it affects Marie’s daughter, how it affects her, or how it affects her community. It’s about what it means not to have water. We really want to put a face on the issue of clean water so that it goes beyond just the typical, “Oh, these people don’t have water.” It’s about what would it would be like if you didn’t have water. We are there to find stories that people can connect to. Water.org is consulting with us on how to help the woman that we’re documenting.
CM: I’d like to add that it’s beautiful to be able to give these messages to the world. I think this series is really great, because Stella Artois is pushing the clean water issue through the series. I think people to connect with these women and want to help them; by seeing them on film, they will be able to find a connection. It will be something that people are able to relate to.