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UAlbany Combines Celebrated Fiction and Award Winning Film to Commemorate World Health Day

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 5, 2006) -- The University at Albany's School of Public Health closes Public Health Week and commemorates World Health Day, April 7, with the presentation of the film, Water First, by Amy Hart, broadcast producer for the School of Public Health. Following the screening, Dean Peter Levin will lead a discussion of the film, relating it to the UAlbany Reading Project title, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Tracy Kidder. The brown bag lunch discussion "Impact of the Individual on Public Health" will be held at UAlbany's School of Public Health George Education Center, Room 110, East Campus, Rensselaer, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Water First was selected from 195 films, culled from over 300 entries from 50 countries, to win 2nd prize at the First International Water and Film Festival, at the IV World Water Forum held in Mexico City, March 16-22.  More than 15,000 people from around the world gathered to discuss global water issues and to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy making.
"It's an honor to win this award and to attend the World Water Forum," said Hart. "It's been a great opportunity to meet filmmakers and other people from around the world who are not only concerned with water issues, but are taking real steps to address the water problems facing us all."

The organizers of the festival were international and national organizations such as the Secretariat of the IV World Water Forum, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The International Water Secretariat of Quebec, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Water Academy of France. In addition, Mexican sponsors included the National Culture and Arts Commission (CONACULTA) in conjunction with Ceneteca Nacional and the National Water Commission (CONAGUA). The entries were judged by jurors from the sponsoring nations as well as from Mali, Greece and Japan. 

Hart sees film as an effective way to get the word out about water. Clean running water is often taken for granted. Worldwide, more than 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, and more than 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation, which leads to the unnecessary deaths of more than 6,000 children every day. The problem is particularly severe in Africa where 300 million of the 900 million citizens are without clean water.

Filmed in Malawi and South Africa, Water First highlights the significance of water in relationship to many other global concerns including poverty, disease, girls' education, gender equality, population control and the care of HIV/AIDS patients. Hart plans to expand the 25-minute short documentary into a feature-length film.

"The recognition the film received at the World Water Forum inspires me to tell this important story," Hart acknowledged. "I look forward to returning to Africa to more deeply explore the water crisis there—and share the stories with more people around the world."

In addition to making independent films, Hart also produces national broadcast programs for the University at Albany School of Public Health. For more information visit the School of Public Health. For more information about the project visit: Water First.


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