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Positive Review of Last Call at the Oasis at SXSW

March 17, 2012 by Kenji Fujishima SlantMagazine.com Jessica Yu’s Last Call at the Oasis, concerning the shortage in the world’s water supply that threatens us all, is a film in the mold of activist documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and last year’s SXSW hit The City Dark. We don’t go to films like these expecting cinematic innovation; we go to have our eyes opened and, hopefully, be provoked to action about an issue the filmmaker has deemed important enough to devote a whole film to exploring. On that level, Last Call at the Oasis is successful—a must-see purely on the basis of its subject matter and the thoroughness with which it explores the issue at hand. Yu’s most noteworthy achievement is to go beyond statistics to present a more multifaceted portrait of the water crisis: the present-day horrors (farmers in Australia committing suicide in large numbers as a result of seemingly endless drought), the scary potential future scenarios, the social and political factors impacting the causes and effects of the issue. The filmmaker’s view is so wide-ranging that she even includes a section toward the end which briefly discusses the religious connotations of water in the context of Yardenit, the only section of the Jordan River that’s pretty much clean enough for baptisms. There really isn’t a whole lot else to say about Last Call at the Oasis beyond that; the film is unassailable as activism, a work that demands to be seen and talked about. At the very least, it’s effective enough that I now think, after seeing it, that I could never take bottled water—which the film argues isn’t really any better than tap water, and may in fact be worse in some ways—seriously ever again. Obviously, there’s more to the film’s revelations than that, but that kind of altering of perspective is one mission of activist documentaries of this type, at least. http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/2012/03/sxsw-2012-under-african-skies-and-last-call-at-the-oasis/