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UNG-Gainesville to screen water wars movie Wednesday
Award-winning documentary follows brothers' journey on river basins
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

* What: Screening of “Who Owns Water,” a documentary on the water shared by Georgia, Alabama and Florida

* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

* Where: University of North Georgia, Gainesville campus, Continuing Education Building 10 Theater, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

* Cost: Free

* More info:

GAINESVILLE — The water wars that have been fought between three Southern states for more than two decades have made their way to the big screen.

Wednesday night, the award-winning documentary “Who Owns Water?” will come to Gainesville with a screening at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.

The film follows two brothers, David and Michael Hanson, as they travel the path of the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basins and try to shed light on who has rights to the water on which Georgia, Alabama and Florida heavily depend.

The brothers said they are looking forward to the UNG showing because one of their main goals was to show the film in places where it had a deep meaning.

“We love showing the film in New York and Colorado and Seattle and California, but we really enjoy showing it in small towns or Atlanta or Apalachicola,” Michael Hanson said. “We like showing it where the people are affected the most and where it hits home.

“We’re really excited to show it in Gainesville and Atlanta. It’s always exciting to be in the watershed.”

Growing up on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, the Hansons had always heard about its problems, including overflow, drought and pollution.

As they grew up, the brothers said they realized the story of the Chattahoochee would be perfect for them to tell.

“As journalists, we tend to look for stories that have some sort of adventure to them and maybe an element of conservation or environmentalism,” Michael Hanson said. “And this one was almost literally right in our backyards. We were very aware of the water wars; we wanted to tell the story from the river’s perspective.”

Throughout the film, the Hansons discover how different the landscape and groups of people are along the watershed, but also how they are all connected by the river, according to Michael Hanson.

Those involved with the movie and the topics it covers said they hope viewers will come out with a new understanding and awareness about the problems others along the watershed face.

Conserving water and reducing consumption are issues for the Lake Lanier area, according to Duncan Hughes, headwaters outreach director with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

But those in southwest Georgia are also dependent on the water and face different issues, such as those related to agricultural issues, he added.

John O’Sullivan, a sociology professor at UNG, said he hopes people will also have new respect for water after the film.

“I think people are going to get an appreciation of the very beautiful and special resource we have and that it’s very fragile and that ... it is a responsibility to maintain its sacred trust for future generations,” O’Sullivan said.

Following the film, the Hansons, Hughes and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Jason Ulseth will be available to discuss the topic and answer questions about the film.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a reception. Showtime is 7 p.m.