Jessica Yu sees no reason why a documentary can’t be informative, terrifying, and beautiful all at the same time. LAST CALL
AT THE OASIS is certainly proof that she can realize her vision. When I spoke with her on May 1, 2012, the first thing I wanted to know was why she would want to tackle a subject, the coming water crisis, that would, as I put it, scare the bejeezus out of her. The second think I wanted to know was what purified sewage water tasted like. As one of the options for solving how to manage a finite resource, it’s possible with today’s technology, but there is that “ick” factor, which is yet another topic Yu covers in an elegant and accessible fashion. I finished up by asking her about the stunning use of imagery that she used to illustrate her film’s many points, and her answer resulted in what may be the first time I’ve ever heard the phrase “water porn” in any interview that I’ve ever conducted.
LAST CALL AT THE OASIS is her documentary that eloquently and artfully sets forth in stark terms the imminent worldwide water crisis, what it will mean to our infrastructure, and the peculiar way people have of refusing to realize that it is already starting to happen. Consulting the scientific and farming communities, as well as Erin Brockovich on how government has failed us, she explores the uses and abuses of water by a culture that literally can’t live without it, and conducts her own experiment, trying to put a positive media spin on recycled sewage water, a strategy already being used successfully in Singapore. Yu’s previous work includes IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL, a profile of outsider artist, Henry Darger; the Greek archetypes of human experience with PROTAGONIST’ the cut-throat world of suburban athletics with the narrative comedy, PING PONG PLAYA; and her Oscar™-winning short, BREATHING LESSONS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF MARK O’BRIEN. It was during her acceptance speech for that film that Yu noted that her dress cost more than the film.