ASU film festival tackles environmental, other human rights

image of water coming from dam

Of the 6 billion people on earth, 1.1 billion do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. And while the average American uses 150 gallons of water per day, those in developing countries cannot find five. Who owns water? Who gets to make decisions about who has access to water?

These are some of the issues addressed by the documentary “Flow: For Love of Water,” one of nine films to be featured at the second annual ASU Human Rights Film Festival coming up this weekend, April 20-22, on ASU’s Tempe campus. Coinciding this year with Earth Day, the festival’s Sunday lineup focuses on environmental rights.

“The film questions the very nature of water and our relation to it," says Irena Salina, the film's director, who builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply by focusing on politics, pollution, human rights, and water’s emergence as a $425 billion industry. "It shows how local action can challenge giant corporations, and how the privatization of water has jeopardized the way of life for entire populations.

“It was inspiring to learn that the most effective way to implement change around water issues, both here in the U.S.A. and abroad, are individual, community-based initiatives.”

A post-film discussion about “Flow” will be led by LaDawn Haglund, an associate professor of justice and social inquiry in ASU's School of Social Transformation, and a fellow in human rights and sustainability in ASU’s Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Haglund’s research analyzes the social and political dimensions of sustainability, particularly the human right to water. She is just returning from a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Brazil, where she studied courts as mechanisms for adjudicating the human rights to water and environmental protection.

The festival will close out with a film produced by a student workshop led by assistant professor Aaron Golub in ASU’s School of Sustainability. “Overcoming Eco-Apartheid: Community Action for Environmental Justice in South Phoenix” documents a community’s efforts to create visions and strategies for justice and sustainability, tackling issues of health, environmental justice, urban history and segregation, food security and neighborhood organizing. Joining Golub as film discussants will be Steve Brittle, president of Don't Waste Arizona, and Darren Chapman, director of the Tigermountain Foundation.

The other seven films that will run on Friday and Saturday are “Miss Landmine,” “Education Under Fire,” “Granito,” “The Truth that Wasn’t There,” “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” “The invisibles,” and “Stop Kony.” The festival is free and open to the public, and all films will be shown in the Great Hall of ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Armstrong Hall. For the full festival slate and listing of all film discussants, visit

This year's festival is sponsored by Human Rights at ASU, the School of Social Transformation, the Graduate Professional Student Assocation at ASU, the Center for Law and Global Affairs in ASU's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and Amnesty International Tempe.