Description from TIFF 2011 catalog by Thom Powers:

When was the last time you worried about getting a glass of fresh water? In some parts of the world, it’s a daily anxiety. But for most people in developed countries, it never registers as a concern. You might consider yourself lucky, but water experts consider you dangerously deluded. In Last Call at the Oasis, we hear from scientists, activists and average citizens who are on the front lines of confronting an impending global water crisis. There’s no escaping it, but shifting our behaviour can lessen the impact. This requires a change in thinking — from individuals, governments and corporations. This invigorating wake-up call from the producers of Food, Inc. and An Inconvenient Truth can play a part.

Academy Award&”174;&”8211;winning director Jessica Yu draws upon the research of scientists and enlists diverse voices ranging from the real Erin Brockovich, exemplifying feisty resistance, to actor Jack Black, supplying welcome comic relief. Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable, points out that everything is connected to water. For instance, when you take into account all the water behind producing four pounds of steak, it adds up to eighteen thousand gallons — roughly the same amount as the average swimming pool. Beyond overconsumption, there are growing hazards of pollution. Water treatment facilities can handle garbage, but they can’t cope with the alarming increase of pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals.

This documentary reminds us that people are capable of change. In 1969, when Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River burst into flames due to industrial pollution, the shock galvanized the environmental movement, leading to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Water Act. Sadly, those institutions have been weakened. The film reports that the Clean Water Act has been violated a half-million times in a recent five year period, while the EPA approves up to two thousand chemicals a year. Watching Last Call at the Oasis will bring a fresh shock. Whether it brings change is up to you.

About the director:
Jessica Yu was born in New York and studied English at Yale University. In addition to directing episodes of The West Wing and Grey’s Anatomy, she has directed several fiction and documentary shorts, including Home Base (90), Sour Death Balls (91), The Conductor (93), Oscar-winner Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien (96), Better Late (97) and The Kinda Sutra (09). Her feature length documentaries are Men of Reenaction (95), The Living Museum (98), In the Realms of the Unreal (02) and Protagonist (06). Her fiction film Ping Pong Playa’ (07) screened at the Festival. Last Call at the Oasis (11) is her latest documentary feature.