The Water Battle in Ouro Preto

The Water Battle in Ouro Preto is a documentary that explores the controversy surrounding the privatization of water supply and sanitation services in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais. The work delves into the social, political and health developments that emerged in response to privatization, including popular movements for the remunicipalization of sanitation.

Triggered by the controversial privatization process of the company Saneuro in 2020, the film examines the consequences of this act and the subsequent violations of human rights, especially with regard to access to water and sanitation. Saneuro, a consortium of local and foreign companies, is placed under a critical lens.

The documentary traces the path of popular resistance and attempts at remunicipalization, revealing the challenges and barriers faced, such as the struggle to reverse a privatization contract and the financial and political difficulties imposed by the action of transnational corporations. It also presents the dangers of the commodification of water, the problems of access to clean water and the impact on public health, with people turning to unregulated and potentially unsafe sources of water. The Batalha da Água in Ouro Preto is a testament to the need to protect and promote quality public services as essential for health, well-being and socio-environmental justice.

  • Matheus Vieira
  • Matheus Vieira
  • Ricardo Roque
  • Nicollas Oliveira
  • Walkyria Rezende
  • Laura Rocha
  • Eduardo Evangelista
  • Anna Laranjeira
  • Raoni Garcia
  • Pablo Carvalho
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - UFSCar - Universidade Federal de São Carlos
Director Biography - Matheus Vieira

Matheus José Vieira, 35, is a researcher, director, screenwriter and photographer. Member of the Brazilian Association of Cinematography (ABC). Mastering in the Graduate Program in Image and Sound (PPGIS) at Ufscar, he studied Audiovisual Production at Centro Universitário Barão de Mauá. He directed the series Jazzpora (2021), Emicida and Rael Convidam Mano Brown (2019), NaEstrada com Rael (2018) and also the short films O Pico (2022), Youth, Democracy and Political Participation (2022) and Taxa de Retorno (2021)

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Director Statement

As the director of "A Batalha da Água em Ouro Preto", I feel a deep responsibility to bring to light the serious injustices that this community has been facing. Through our documentary, we seek to examine and question Saneuro's controversial privatization process in 2020 and its subsequent human rights violations.

We are living in an era where water - an essential resource for life - is being commodified. Saneuro, made up of a mixture of local and foreign companies, is brought under scrutiny in our film. Our investigation reveals the devastating impact their operations have had on the local population, where lack of access to safe drinking water has led to serious public health issues.

We were faced with a disturbing reality: the relentless exploitation of foreign conglomerates that extract resources from the region without significant return for the local community. This exploitation is even more alarming when we consider that its disproportionate impact falls on the largely black population of Ouro Preto. This city, rich in history and tradition, has at its foundation the invaluable contribution of these people. The technological knowledge of mining, which has been instrumental to the prosperity of Brazil and other countries, was born in large part from the work and ingenuity of these individuals. The irony of its continued exploitation is a reality that we set out to unmask in this documentary.

However, "A Batalha da Água em Ouro Preto" is more than a story of exploitation and injustice; it is a resistance of popular resistance and efforts to remunicipalize. Our documentary tracks this ongoing struggle, revealing the challenges faced in attempting to reverse the privatization contract and facing the financial and political difficulties imposed by transnational corporations.

By presenting the natural and historical beauty of Ouro Preto, we want to contrast the intrinsic richness of this region with the predatory exploitation that residents face. We did this by highlighting the city, its architecture and surrounding nature in the mise-en-scène, telling a story not only of exploration, but also of resistance and resilience.

The documentary "The Water Battle in Ouro Preto" is a testament to our commitment to the protection and promotion of quality public services and socio-environmental justice. We hope this documentary serves as a call to action for all of us to recognize and respond to the injustices that are taking place right before our eyes.