Four years ago I realized I had to make The Shape of Water. I had done my
research, taught about the work done by women around the globe,
written about the women in scholarly articles yet I still felt in
my heart that their stories should be known by a wider audience.
Their stories are important. And it is important that their realities
are understood as the realities of those who are creating a new
world, not those who are victims. That is why I have spent the last
few years struggling to make this documentary.
My documentary weaves together the powerful stories of Khady, Bilkusben,
Oraiza, Dona Antonia, Vandana and Gila who, through candor and humor,
infuse their communities with a passion for change. The women are
abandoning female genital mutilation (Senegal), tapping for rubber
to protect the rainforest (Brazil), protecting the biodiversity
of the planet (India) and opposing military occupations (Jerusalem).
I made this film because I wanted to offer fresh insights into
the lives of Third World women. I have done this by revealing their
complex and inspirational stories as they create a more just world.
That is why I say The Shape of Water offers a new angle on globalization,
human rights, and social justice.
The Shape of Water was edited from 74 hours of original footage
shot in Senegal, Brazil, India, and Jerusalem. The film (overall
budget approximately $120,000) was financially supported by seed
monies from UCSB as well as grants from the Fund for Santa Barbara,
the LEF Foundation, a private donors Gift Fund set up by individuals
in Santa Barbara, and a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
As part of my commitment to create opportunities for more dialogue
amongst women living in the Third World, The Shape of Water will
be sent to organizations and foundations such as Development Alternatives
for Women in a New Era (DAWN), the Global Fund for Women, the Ford
Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. I am currently in the
process of raising funds to send over 100 DVDs or VHS copies to
a wide range of grassroots organization in the Third World, including
addressed in the film.