Here are over 65 films (short and long) available on water and sanitation. Some of the films are available for free on YouTube – others are available only by mail order. Please remember that these films have not been vetted for content. For questions about specific films, please contact individual film-makers. Film festivals from around the world with a water or sanitation focus are listed here. Enjoy!

2010 African Women and Water Tribute

WEA’s current work in Africa is the Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI), a partnership between A Single Drop, Crabgrass, and Women’s Earth Alliance. The GWWI partners to provide African women the opportunity to gain the skills, technologies, best practices, and support networks they need to launch income-generating sustainable water projects in their communities.

A New Culture of Water

This learning tool and documentary film was developed in Soweto, South Africa in 2004. It is a compilation of perspectives from water stakeholders and engaged youth co-hosting a water workshop with Waterlution in their community. It is available for purchase, e-mail info@waterlution.org

A Thirsty World

Faithful to Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s reputation, A Thirsty World, filmed in some 20 countries, reveals the mysterious and fascinating world of fresh water through spectacular aerial images shot in regions that are difficult to reach and rarely filmed, like Southern Sudan or Northern Congo. It also lets us discover the most beautiful landscapes on our planet, the lakes, rivers and wetlands created by water.

Abuelo Grillo

When Abuela Grillo sings, rain comes. That day, she has been mistreated by the country farmers because of her singing a bit too much. She decides to leave.

A Drop of Life

Set in the near future, A DROP OF LIFE is the story of two women, a village teacher in rural India and an African American corporate executive, whose disparate lives intersect when they are both confronted with lack of access to clean drinking water. Mirabai, an impassioned schoolteacher, has left her urban lifestyle to teach in Kutch, Gujurat. When Mira witnesses growing illness among the village children after a pre-paid water meter is installed, she decides to take action.

A Journey in the History of Water

The dramatic story of how the struggle for fresh water has shaped human society to a remarkable extent.

A World Without Water

The world is running out of its most precious resource. True Vision’s timely film tells of the personal tragedies behind the mounting privatization of water supplies.

Bangladesh: A Climate Trap

In Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, “climate change refugees” are moving from the countryside and into squalid slums due to environmental degradation. Like millions of others, Alam Mia has been forced to make the teeming capital of Dhaka his home. We follow his journey as he leaves his homestead in search of a livelihood in the city. Dhaka feels more like a foreign country than home. For the family, it is a struggle for survival. Alam Mia is trapped. His move to the city is not a beginning full of possibilities. Korial – Dhaka’s largest slum signifies the bitter culmination of his dreams.

Between the Tides

Between the Tides is an independently produced documentary film that explores the plight of environmental refugees in the coastal Sundarban region of Southeast India and Western Bangladesh. The film was shot, produced and managed by Tyler Quintano and Nick Manning.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Wars of the future will be fought over water, not oil. Water, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management. Can the human race survive?

Cadillac Desert

An American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature. The film chronicles the growth of a large community in the western American desert. It brought abundance and the legacy of risk it has created in the United States and abroad. The first three episodes are based on Marc Reisner’s book, Cadillac Desert (1986), that delves into the history of water use and misuse in the American West.

Dead in the Water

There’s a problem with the world’s water supply. One in four people on earth doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. Water and sanitation infrastructures are crumbling. We keep using more of it, yet continue to degrade and deplete it. Powerful companies spotted a crisis and saw a business opportunity.

Drowned Out

The people of Jalsindhi in central India must make a decision fast. In the next few weeks, their village will disappear underwater as the giant Narmada Dam fills. Bestselling author Arundhati Roy joins the fight against the dam and asks the difficult questions. Will the water go to poor farmers or to rich industrialists? What happened to the 16 million people displaced by fifty years of dam building? Why should I care? DROWNED OUT follows the Jalsindhi villagers through hunger strikes, rallies, police brutality and a six-year Supreme Court case. It stays with them as the dam fills and the river starts to rise.

Drying Up Palestine

A portrait of the stresses and strains imposed on Palestinian society by Israel’s almost total control over access to water and sewage facilities in the West Bank, told in the words of ordinary people. A compelling picture of the impact of military occupation on everyday life.

Even the Rain

Even the Rain is a 2010 Spanish drama film directed by Icíar Bollaín about Mexican director Sebastián and executive producer Costa who travel to Bolivia to shoot a film depicting Christopher Columbus’s conquest

Flow: For Love of Water

Water is the essence of life, sustaining every being on this planet. Without water, there would simply be no plants, no animals, and no people. But the global water supply isn’t just at risk, it’s already in crisis.

From Safe Water and Sanitation to Good Health

The organisation is working to ensure safe drinking water, ecologically safe, appropriate and functioning sanitation solutions and is engaged in hygiene awareness trainings. All activities have a community-based approach and invite the active participation of beneficiaries of all ages as well as of local partner organizations and authorities. This documentary presents the projects of Malteser International in Sri Lanka, where the organization has been working since January 2005, directly after the tsunami.

Ghosts in the Baltic Sea

This is a documentary about how lost fishing gear continues to fish over decades. It is a waste of resources and a level of cruelty to animals which has not been acknowledged in this way before. The film was financed by the Baltic Sea 2020 foundation and was broadcasted on TV4 Fakta in all Nordic countries. After the film was shown, several newspapers and news programs have also taken on the subject. In December 2011 the film received the environmental award at the international underwater film festival in Belgrade.

Give Us Water Or Grant Us Death and Holy Hindon Or Dirty Drain

The statistics say it loud and clear. A study shows that in Hindon, located in western Uttar Pradesh, 107 people have died in the past five years of cancer caused by the consumption of water polluted by industrial effluents. In Jaibheem Nagar slum in Meerut, 124 deaths in the five-year period 2001 to 2006 were the result of contaminated groundwater. These startling facts are revealed in two documentaries made by Delhi-based filmmaker Raakesh Khatri.

Go Ganges!

Set in a stunning background of colorful landscapes, Go Ganges! captures the danger, joy and significance of the mighty Ganges River when two explorers attempt to travel its length by any means possible. The adventurers provide a colorful testimony to the distress the river endures, and why it merits reprieve as an irreplaceable emblem.

Into the Gyre

Into the Gyre is a 45-minute film documenting the journey of a team of scientists searching for plastic pollution in the remote Saragasso Sea. Run by the Sea Education Association (SEA), an educational institution based out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, this expedition measured the amount of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean and studied its effects on marine ecosystems, with surprising results.

Les Voyageurs Sans Trace

In 1938, three French adventurers were the first to kayak the great rivers of the American West. Newlyweds Genevieve and Bernard de Colmont, and their friend Antoine de Seynes were three dashing young Parisians seeking adventure. The trio traveled from their homes in France, boldly setting out to be the first to kayak the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure

Liquid Assets, a ninety-minute documentary, tells the story of essential infrastructure systems: water, wastewater, and stormwater. These systems — some in the ground for more than 100 years — provide a critical public health function and are essential for economic development and growth.

Liquid City

The film is part of a research project funded by the Art & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) entitled ‘Liquid city: water, landscape and social formation in twenty-first century Mumbai’. The aim of the project is to explore the material and metaphorical dimensions to water and landscape in the city of Mumbai. Built on a series of islands, Mumbai is surrounded by seawater, yet freshwater distribution problems persist.

Liquidity:The Value of Wetlands

It’s has screened at Upstate Films, The Greenburgh Center, the Rosendale Theatre, public access TV stations and town hall meetings, while being distributed around the state by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Hudson River Estuaries Fund. Save the Wetlands!

Living with Floods

Sanjay Barnela and Samreen Farooqui put together this award-winning documentary which takes a look at the serious situation created by the North Bihar region’s rivers bursting their banks almost every year. Homes are wrecked, people lose their lives and livelihoods and the damage is estimated to be lofty. Communities had developed coping mechanisms that were integral to their culture. The film looks at the development models chosen and implemented by the state to “protect people from floods”. In particular the embankments have led to man-made floods and water logging over vast agriculture land leading to widespread pauperization of people. The film sheds light on many aspects of water logging in the area and highlights the work of Nav Jagriti in coping with floods.

Minds in the Water

Minds in the Water and the MITW Visual Petition are a global awareness campaign dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals.

Mysteries of the Great Lakes

Through the magic of IMAX, travel to the ‘inland seas’ where some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth is also the world’s largest concentration of freshwater. The Great Lakes are home to varied wildlife, and 40 million Canadians and Americans rely on the Lakes for water. Discover how humanity has brought these Lakes to the brink of destruction…and back

One Water

One Water is an immersive experience that shows the state of the world’s fresh water and its affect on people, which is becoming more aggravated by population growth and climate change and compromises the future of all life on the planet. This spectacular film also raises the essential question about clean, safe water being a basic human right. Source: University of Miami.

Orange Farm Water Crisis

This video documents the struggle of the Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee against water privatisation in Orange Farm, one of the poorest townships in South Africa.

Paddle to Seattle

Follow two friends as they build their own kayaks and paddle together for 97 days through the wilderness on a journey from Alaska to Seattle—only to survive to talk about…most things.

Pad Yatra

Join His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa and 750 nuns, monks, & friends of the Drukpa Lineage as they trek 400 kilometers across the Himalayas in a grassroots movement to elevate environmental awareness, promote education for women, and celebrate the heritage of a culture in peril.

Panihari: The Water Women of India

Indian-American filmmakers Abi Devan and Sudhi Rajagopal return to their homeland to document life in the desert communities of Rajasthan. Their journey leads them to the Panihari (women who fetch water).

Pani – Water

This documentary that explores the notions of “community”, in the context of development. The people of Lele, a village near Kathmandu, narrate the history of how they set up a committee to manage their drinking water system. The narrative moves from a fairly uncomplicated story told by the leaders about the initial installation to the complexities of gender and caste relations.

Poisoned Waters

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, iconic American waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are in perilous condition and facing new sources of contamination. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, scientists note that many new pollutants and toxins from modern everyday life are already being found in the drinking water of millions of people across the country and pose a threat to fish, wildlife and, potentially, human health. In Poisoned Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.

Reclaiming Water

Well known participants include authors Vandana Shiva (Water Wars) and Maude Barlow (Blue Gold: The Fight to End the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water). The documentary interweaves personal stories, strategy sessions, and analysis with striking footage of Japan. It was partially funded by Global Ministries of United Methodist Women and sponsored by Action Against Hunger.

Running Dry

This film states it was “established to raise awareness regarding the worsening global humanitarian water crisis. The projects centerpiece is an explosive and enlightening in-depth documentary…” Although, given its corporate and political sponsorship, others say it is just good marketing. You be the judge.

Running Water

The sole purpose of this movie is to change the way we view the water crisis. I made it in hopes to spread awareness to others who may not be very informed. I know before thinking of this idea, I had no clue of the severity of the crisis. After watching a few videos, I was changed and opened up about the issue. If I can help one person gain a better understanding about the water crisis, then this will have been a success.

Running the Sahara

More than ever, the runners and their team are committed to the land and people they visited. The international media has turned its eye to the expedition’s achievement, including the attention and support that they are bringing to the water crisis in Africa through H2O Africa.

RX For Survival: A Global Health Challenge

A documentary series from WGBH Boston, narrated by Brad Pitt, that explores today’s most pressing global health questions.

Stories from the Gulf

A half-hour documentary that explores the impact of America’s worst oil disaster on Gulf Coast residents, using stunning original photography and audio interviews produced by NRDC and Bridge the Gulf, and recorded by StoryCorps.

Sudan – Life is Water

Jenn Warren’s documentary “Life Is Water,” set in Southern Sudan, presents the need for water purification methods in Sudan and shows the positive effects of Waterguard, a chlorine-based water treatment product that when added to water purifies it from bacteria that causes cholera, diarrhea and other fatal diseases that are rampant throughout Sudan.

Sushi: The Global Catch

Sushi, a cuisine formerly found only in Japan, has grown exponentially in other nations, and an industry has been created to support it. In a rush to please a hungry public, the expensive delicacy has become common and affordable, appearing in restaurants, supermarkets and even fast food trailers. The traditions requiring 7 years of apprenticeship in Japan have given way to quick training and mass-manufactured solutions elsewhere.

Taste the Waste of Water

The short documentary “Taste the Waste of Water” was launched at the World Water Week to highlight the issue of water and food waste. The short film is produced by the award-winning filmmaker Valentin Thurn, Schnittstelle, THURN GbR, Germany for SIWI in collaboration with FAO, and focuses on the issue of food waste.


This film by Stephanie Soechtig examines the fundamental question: is access to drinking water a basic human right or is water a commodity that should be bought and sold? Specifically, it looks at the big business of bottled water.

The Big Fix

The Big Fix is the new movie from the filmmakers of the award winning Sundance documentary “Fuel,” husband and wife directing/producing team Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell. It’s executive produced by Tim Robbins, Maggie Wachsberger and Peter Fonda. Through interviews with scientists, government officials, journalists (including Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell who examined the Gulf spill in his article “The Poisoning”), attorneys (including New Orleans Toxic Tort attorney Stuart Smith) and Gulf States natives, The Big Fix recounts the events surrounding the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico and paints a disturbing picture of the aftermath of the largest oil spill in America’s history.

The Colorado River: Running Near Empty

Photographer Peter McBride traveled along the Colorado River from its source high in the Rocky Mountains to its historic mouth at the Sea of Cortez. In this Yale Environment 360 video, he follows the natural course of the Colorado by raft, on foot, and overhead in a small plane, telling the story of a river whose water is siphoned off at every turn, leaving it high and dry 80 miles from the sea. In the video, McBride, a Colorado native, documents how increasing water demands have transformed the river that is the lifeblood for an arid Southwest.

The Fight for Water

Two California Central Valley farmers (George Delgado and Joe Del Bosque), who came from parents of migrant farm workers and whose life’s dream had been of being a farmer, take a filmmaker (Juan Carlos Oseguera) around their impacted lands to document how water restrictions and environmental regulations have threatened their way of life, their American dream and their community–to the point that, in order to protect an endangered fish species, an environmental ruling shut their water supply and they had to lay off their farm workers which, all together, devastated their farming community and hurt their local economy.

The River Runs Back

For thousands of years Beijing depended on the Yongding River, but for the last decade the river has been dry. Low rainfall and rampant industrial development caused the river’s demise. Reservoirs fed by the river are less than a tenth full, a symptom of a water crisis affecting the whole of Beijing. Now the river faces another dramatic transformation. Beijing’s government is spending the equivalent of over $2.5 billion to create a manicured landscape of lakes and parkland along the river. Winning entry of the WASH Media Awards 2011-2012, TV Category.

The Sacred Balance

Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra personifies the synergistic balance of science and spirituality through his relationship with the Ganges river in India. An excerpt from the documentary series “The Sacred Balance” with David Suzuki, produced by Kensington Communications.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is a feature documentary that tells the stories of powerful, imaginative and visionary women confronting the destructive development of the Third World with new cultures and a passion for change.

The Story of Bottled Water

Over seven minutes, the film explores the bottled water industry’s attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces. The film concludes with a call to ‘take back the tap,’ not only by making a personal commitment to avoid bottled water, but by supporting investments in clean, available tap water for all.

The Water Front

Residents of Highland Park, Michigan, known as the birthplace of the auto-industry, have received water bills as high as $10,000; they have had their water turned off, their homes foreclosed, and are struggling to keep water, a basic human right, from becoming privatized. The Water Front is the story of an American city in crisis but it is not just about water. The story touches on the very essence of our democratic system and is an unnerving indication of what is in store for residents around the world facing their own water struggles.

The Water Haulers

“The Water Haulers” features profiles of Navajos struggling to prosper in their dry ancestral lands, expert explanation of these pressing water rights issues, and interviews with policymakers throughout the Southwest. This documentary explores the challenges facing a culture when the basic human right of access to water is unobtainable.

Thirst: Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in a global marketplace?

This documentary aired on PBS in 2004. It examines global water privatization through evaluation of case studies of Stockton, CA., Bolivia, and India.

Touched by Water

Touched by Water dives into the lush world of bathing rituals, exploring the traditions of our essential bond with water. The variations are enormous, the similarities staggering. From ancient Roman baths to elite European spas, from Turkish hammams and the Ganges to a high-tech multimedia pool, the film explores the hidden meaning behind the simple and universal act of bathing.


Waterbuster is a documentary chronicling the dislocation and relocation of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Nation of North Dakota due to a dam that inundated their homeland along the banks of the Missouri River. It is also the personal story of the director’s family, whose life choices were influenced by this powerful reshaping of the landscape.


Watermark is a feature documentary from multiple-award winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, marking their second collaboration after Manufactured Landscapes in 2006. The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use.


This CBC series takes an in depth look at the many ways water flows through everything we do and how a twist of the tap influences global politics, international economics and the ecology of the entire planet.

Water Detectives

Through this engaging and empowering short documentary, grade 4 to 7 students learn that their local conservation efforts can have far-reaching results. This lesson is made concrete through the experience of youth in Matamoros, Mexico, where a severe water shortage led the city to take the unusual step of putting local children in charge of changing adult attitudes and habits.

Water for Life: Diary of J-Z in Africa

Jay takes a journey of a lifetime, discovering how lack of clean water leads to horrific conditions — and finding hope along the way.

Water Integrity Network Films

WIN developed a short introductory video and continued filming its Voices of Corruption videos during regional trips and international conferences. Aimed at people not familiar with WIN’s work or the devastating effect of corruption in the water sector, the promotional video makes corruption in the sector more visible, shows what can be done about it and introduces WIN. The short Voices of Corruption videos present the issues of water corruption from the perspective of WIN partners and members, as well as through the eyes of other water sector stakeholders. The films will be used to promote wider understanding of the issues WIN works to combat.

Water on the Table

Featuring Maude Barlow’s crusade to have water declared a human right. Nominated for the Donald Brittain Award for best social political documentary at the 2010 GEMINIS. Winner of the Best Canadian Feature Film Award at the 11th Annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. The 2010 Featured Canadian Film for Cinema Politica. And the 2011 Honourable Mention for Canada’s inaugural Environmental Media Association Awards (EMA’s).

Water Planet

A film about water and climate change produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Water Pressures

The Water Pressures documentary highlights community water management projects in the deserts of India and a major U.S. university on Lake Michigan. Collaborations in each of these communities initiate real change, enabling participants to conserve water in response to the global water crisis.

Water Voices Documentary Series – ADB

The “Water Voices” documentary series recognizes the power of good examples and lessons learned to inspire ‘home grown’ solutions to water problems.

Women and Water: A Tribute – IWMI

A film – a montage of photos – made by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to highlight the connection between women and water.

Writing on Water

This film is a six-part series (available on You Tube) that details the Pan-Asian Water Colloquium in Chennai, India in 2008. This film highlights this meeting of water operators, water engineers, economists, activists, policymakers, and academics from around the world as they discuss the importance of democratic management of water systems and the human right to water.

4 thoughts on “H20 FILMS

  1. For a couple good films about the history of water in the west, check out the movie “China Town” and the video version of Marc Reisner’s book “Cadillac Desert.”

  2. Hey,
    I really like the list of movies here, some really powerful accounts of the scary situation of water in the world. I would also recommend posting information about Gasland by Josh Fox. Here is a link to the page devoted to the movie.
    -Thanks again

  3. Thank you for this list! Our organization, Amman Imman: Water is Life, has produced some videos about the water crisis in the Azawak region of Niger, a large area inhabited by nomadic populations, where temperatures reach over 120 degrees and the rainy season continues to shorten, now only 1-3 months a year. Famine, as well as drought, is a problem. With these basic needs left unmet, the people are beset with disease and death, and struggling to survive. Here’s the link to our channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/djoie?feature=mhee. If you want to learn more, please visit our website at http://www.waterishope.org/

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