Last week the news broke that Adam Yauch, aka MCA, of the Beastie Boys passed away from cancer. Having grown up in the 80s and 90s, I listened to my share of Beastie Boys. MCA was my favorite in the group; I dug his raspy delivery, prematurely graying hair, and also what he did outside of music.
In addition to being a talented musician, Yauch was a cinema buff and directed many of the Beastie Boys' videos, eventually starting his own production company, Oscilloscope Laboratories, profiled here in the New York Times. It’s under Oscilloscope that the highly acclaimed water documentary "Flow" was released in 2008 (film website).
I hadn't seen flow yet, so I dropped in to Vulcan Video - a local, independent video rental chain in Austin (yes, there are still several of those left) - to pick up the DVD. The clerk remarked that he hadn’t realized MCA had directed or been involved with so many films. Join the club.
Anyways, "Flow" is a 90 minute documentary directed by filmmaker Irena Salina that takes us on a world tour of challenges facing the global water supply. We see the tug of war between multinational corporations looking to privatize water resources in places like Bolivia (aided by the World Bank, whoops) and citizens who just want access to clean water they had before corporations moved in and Spaceballed their water.
We see open sewers draining into rivers in India, and dams displacing millions worldwide. We learn that over 2 million people worldwide die of waterborne illnesses each year - more than AIDS or wars. And we see Indian villagers successfully force the Coca-Cola Company to shut down operations for polluting their water supply with cadmium and lead.
Pretty heavy material for an MC from Brooklyn to foster with his indie film outfit. Or is it? I think what drew me to MCA more than the rest of the Beastie Boys was the arc of his career and life, from 80s punk rocker to Buddhist who organized benefits for Tibet. Someone who learned from his mistakes and tried not to make the world worse off.
Supporting a documentary about the most precious resource we have makes a lot of sense.