Swarovski's 'Waterschool' Makes Cannes Debut

Swarovski, THR Cannes roundtable - H 2018
Courtesy of Getty Images

THR hosted a panel with Oscar nominee Lucy Walker and Nadja Swarovski at the Carlton Hotel.

After premiering at Sundance and screening at the Davos World Economic Forum, Swarovski's Waterschool documentary made its Cannes debut during a panel hosted by The Hollywood Reporter with Nadja Swarovski, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) dean Teri Schwartz and Oscar-nominated director Lucy Walker.

Swarovski said her family’s company launched the first Waterschool project in 2000. The issue is close to her heart, and she conceived of the documentary to help spread awareness of the issues surrounding water worldwide.

“People think of pollution usually, or the lack of water, but we can see there are so many other water issues,” she said. The documentary delves into such topics as microplastics and even simple access to water in underprivileged communities.

The documentary, which explores Swarovski's water education programs around the world, was created in collaboration with graduate students from UCLA's TFT, and mentored by two-time Oscar nominee Walker.

"It was born out of our shared belief and our shared ideals around how to use the power of film to really drive change and to inspire audiences," said Schwartz. "Our focus is on using the power of story for good and for change and for transformation, to not only entertain and delight but enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world."

Walker served as the mentor on the project, overseeing seven graduate filmmaking students and they traveled five continents to film kids working on community projects.

“I was already a huge fan of Teri's work and how she's connecting storytelling with social impact,” said Waste Land director Walker. “It's such a way that resonates with my work in the world."

Walker said mentoring the young filmmakers and coaching them through challenges was incredibly rewarding, as they were able to get the stories onscreen. “It was an absolute treat to see these brilliant filmmakers tackle something new and to give them the tools,” she said. “There were some really special things with nonfiction they were running smack into that I know so well, so it was really fun for me.”

The young people profiled are five girls that live alongside bodies of water, including the Amazon, the Mississippi and the Nile rivers. They work to educate their communities on protecting the clean water sources.

“In terms of social impact, which is obviously a topic we’ve discussed with UCLA and with Teri, is what else Swarovski can do to help the greater communities to take their own individual initiative and make that difference,” said Swarvoski. The company is also launching an online education program so individuals can adapt their program around the world.

As far as a sequel, Swarovski said she would love it, adding: "I'm convincing Teri to do the next 10."

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 11 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.