Water and Power

Director: Pat O’Neill

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


Years ago, the Owens Valley (260 miles north of Los Angeles) was a flourishing country of farms and ranches. Today it is a dusty, dying and nearly deserted stretch of parched land. Pat O'Neill's Water and Power is not about the Owens Valley, nor even the events surrounding its death at the hands of the Department of Water and Power. Rather, this film is a tremendous iconography of the Southern California whose existence and identity are rooted in the lifeblood artificially feeding it.

Profound and poetic, associative and representational, Water and Power creates a sensual impression of transformations: Of a city, a desert, an industry, an image from one state to another. Composed of optically layered images, time-lapse photography, scripted text, and spoken word, it alters natural images in time, axis, definition, color, and, ultimately, perception. O'Neill pushes the aesthetics of Star Wars special effects into uncharted territory to strike a deep poetic chord.

Qualitatively intuitive, this is a deeply personal work from a true visionary. A pioneer in nonnarrative filmmaking consistently striving to capture, manipulate, and project an image of purified beauty, Water and Power extends even beyond these goals and articulates not only Pat O'Neill's technical brilliance, but also his intense desire to produce a thought-provoking film.

Saturday, January 20 7:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema I

Monday, January 22 10:15 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema II

Wednesday, January 24 1:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Friday, January 26 1:30 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema I


Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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