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Place of Sweet Waters – new ‘SA water crisis’ short film from Sven Harding


South Africa is currently in the midst of one of the worst droughts to hit the region since the 1980s. Officials in the city of Durban have already begun water rationing for the city’s three million people and there are concerns Cape Town will have to do the same.

But a new short documentary produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Sven Harding suggests there could be another way to tackle the problem. ‘Place of Sweet Waters’, documents Cape Town’s bountiful fresh water springs which run out of sight under the city centre and directly into the sea, being ‘wasted’ according to campaigner Caron Von Zeil, who features in the film.

The film was produced as part of a global sH2Orts film competition run by international development charity WaterAid and the Public Media Alliance’s WorldView project, with the aim of documenting the future of water.


Sven Harding, the filmmaker, said he was inspired by the subject matter as it’s an issue close to his heart:

Shortage of safe water is a global concern, and WaterAid is doing a fine job in highlighting this issue and campaigning for change to improve people’s lives.

“Cape Town, and most of the rest of South Africa, is currently experiencing its worst drought in decades. The city is severely water-stressed, through this film I wanted to highlight how this naturally occurring resource has been largely untapped, and wasted, for decades,” he said.

Millions of litres of potentially potable water flow directly into Cape Town’s water system every day.

“It’s a massive waste of readily available fresh water,” said Sven.

“All the more objectionable when it’s apparent there are huge numbers of people in and around the city who have to make arduous journeys on foot to collect safe water in buckets from distant standpipes.”

WaterAid works in 26 of the world poorest countries, helping to save and transform lives by improving access to safe water and improved sanitation.


Catherine Feltham, Film Producer at WaterAid, said:

“The global water crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing us today. Through the sH2Orts film competition we invited filmmakers to share stories of inspirational people who are taking the future of water into their own hands. Sven’s film does a great job of highlighting women like Carol who’re campaigning for change in South Africa.”

Sven Harding was also the winner of the 2015 sH2Orts Worldwide film competition with his short film entitled Moonwalk which highlights how, every day, women and children collectively walk as far as to the moon and back 16 times to fetch water.

His film Saving Aslan won massive acclaim picking up bronze at the Cannes Lions Advertising Awards and Silver at the Clio US Advertising Awards. Sven also directed ‘Sunshine, a Greenpeace campaign film which won silver for Best Viral at the 2008 Midsummer Awards.



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