Documentary filmmaker Mara Alper, associate professor of media arts, sciences and studies, will be presenting at the 7th World Water Forum being held in Daegu, South Korea, April 12–17.
Alper’s multimedia presentation, “Re-Imagining Water,” will focus on water conservation, comparing bottled water and tap water, water solutions and the different ways to change people’s attitudes and actions toward water. Alper has developed and teaches several water-themed courses at Ithaca College including Water Planet, The Power of Water and Media & The Environment: Water Issues.
Staff Writer Ahana Dave spoke with Alper on the development of her presentation, her thoughts on prominent water issues today and what she is looking forward to at the forum.
Ahana Dave: How were you selected to speak at the 7th World Water Forum?
Mara Alper: There was a juried selection process by the Secretariat of 7th World Water Forum requiring very detailed information about the program and its goals. I applied as part of the Citizen’s Forum — people working with fellow citizens on water solutions — and was accepted last October.
AD: How did you develop the presentation?
MA: “Re-Imagining Water” developed over the last five years because of my online IC course Water Planet, GCOM 20100, that is offered every year in summer session one. When I found videos that are both humorous and political to tell these water stories, and added photos and art, I knew it would be a good presentation for people. Humor and beautiful images make it easier to take in the info. I also added live music, poetry and art to remind us of how profound and precious our connection to water is.
AD: When did you start thinking about water issues?
MA: I was first concerned about water when I was in my 20s, many decades ago. I considered studying ocean law but put it aside for my media career. About 10 years ago, water gained my attention again, and I realized this time around I needed to do something about it. Since I am a teacher, I decided the best thing to do was teach about water issues. I am devoted to this subject. It is essential that we no longer take water for granted, even here in the moist Northeast.
AD: As a documentary filmmaker, did you draw on any of your previous works for this presentation?
MA: My most recent work, “Sacred Waters of Bali,” is part of the presentation. It shows a culture that has a deep respect for water. Two of my other videos also screen “To Erzulie,” a video-art poem about a Haitian water goddess, screened internationally, and “Protect our Drinking Water in New York State,” a political action, anti-fracking documentary screened at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation hearing at the State Theatre in 2009.
AD: What do you hope people will take away from the presentation?
MA: Hopefully, it will open up discussion about the best ways to help people pay attention to water issues in their daily lives, rather than ignore them or take water for granted.
AD: Is there another particular presentation that you are looking forward to at the World Water Forum?
MA: I am looking forward to connecting with others in the Citizens Forum to hear what people are doing around the world. Many will join my IC classes as guest experts online. There will be Fortune 500 corporations presenting as well, and I am interested in hearing these powerful stakeholders in-person [as] many of them own water rights using questionable water integrity. Hearing them in this context will hopefully give food for thought — it’s important to know perspectives from all stakeholders.
Alper will be posting highlights from each day at the World Water Forum on her blog at