Scenes from a Dry City

  • François Verster, Simon Wood
  • South Africa, United States
  • 2018
  • 13 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
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Cape Town is facing a water shortage due to the persistent drought in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The level in the city’s reservoirs is steadily falling, and tight restrictions on water usage are in place. There are fears of a “Day Zero,” when the water supply will be turned off. “We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water, we now have to force them,” says the city’s mayor.

In 12 minutes, Scenes from a Dry City looks at the water crisis from different perspectives: illegal car washers, demonstrators against water privatization, Christians in a mass service praying for rain, or golfers on a lush green course. These scenes are interspersed with shots of the effects of drought on the reservoir, and the canals and drains that carry an ever-decreasing trickle of water. The camerawork and drone shots are stunning. Presented without commentary, the film gives an impression not only of the water crisis, but also of the racial inequality and income disparity in South African society.


  • 13 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English
François Verster, Simon Wood
Simon Wood / SaltPeter Productions
Executive producer
Charlotte Cook for Field of Vision, Laura Poitras for Field of Vision
Simon Wood, François Verster
Khalid Shamis
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IDFA history

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IDFA history