Water For Life Logo

Film Summary

Water For Life tells the story of three extraordinary individuals: Berta Cáceres, a leader of the Lenca people in Honduras; Francisco Pineda, a subsistence farmer in El Salvador; and Alberto Curamil, an Indigenous Mapuche leader in Chile, all of whom refused to let government supported industry and transnational corporations take their water and redirect it to mining, hydroelectric projects or large scale agriculture. Despite reassurances from companies and the authorities, they knew what lay ahead: contaminated water, environmental devastation, and the destruction of their communities.

It is a story of courage and determination, betrayal and corruption, death threats and murder, and of unexpected victories in the countryside and in the courts. It is a story that asks how economic development can grow in harmony with environmental protections. Above all, Water For Life illuminates a growing recognition of Indigenous rights and a rising demand for corporate responsibility and environmental justice that’s being seen around the world. It is a story that begins and ends with water.

Meet the Film Subjects

Filmmaker Bios

Will Parrinello '14 Emmy - Water For Life

Will Parrinello


Will Parrinello(Producer/ Director) has been making award-winning documentaries for 35 years. His extensive filmography includes Movies Around The World, a short for the 89th Academy Awards (seen my 85 million people in 250 countries), Mustang – Journey of Transformation; Emile Norman – By His Own Design; Dreaming of Tibet; Little Italy, and Kerouac. With his filmmaking partner John Antonelli, Will co-produced / co-directed the multiple Emmy award-winning series The New Environmentalists, narrated by Robert Redford. Parrinello co-produced Summer ’82 – When Zappa Came to Sicily; Sea Change; Roots of Ulu; Yen For Baseball and Sumo Basho. Will was director of photography on the Academy Award nominated feature documentary Tell The Truth & Run – George Seldes & the American Press and In The Light of Reverence.

Majo Calderon Headshot

Maria Jose Calderon


Maria Jose Calderon was producer of Covid’s Hidden Toll, the Frontline / PBS / Scripps Howard award-winning film that explores how the absence of mandatory workplace protections puts essential agricultural workers at risk. She was producer/director of The Edge of the Sea, an award-winning environmental documentary for PBS; associate producer of Elizabeth Farnsworth’s Emmy Award nominated POV documentary The Judge and the General – The Story of Juan Guzman; associate producer of Stable Life – stories of undocumented immigrants who live and work on American racetracks, and producer of the 10-part HBO series Outpost, combining experiential journalism with adventure travel reporting. Majo has a master’s degree in journalism from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Rick Tejada-Flores Headshot

Rick Tejada-Flores


Rick Tejada-Flores documentary filmmaker with more than 40 years of work to his credit.  Among his credits are The Fight in the Fields, Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Struggle (PBS & Sundance Channel). Three films for PBS/American Masters: Rivera in America; Jasper Johns, Ideas in Paint; and Orozco, Man of Fire. Other films include Race is the Place (PBS / Independent Lens); The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It; and Low ‘N Slow – The Art of Lowriding. Rick served as producer on the Emmy and DuPont-Colombia award winning PBS series The Great Depression. His most recent film, My Bolivia – Remembering What I Never Knew (PBS World), is an intimate investigation into his family’s distinctive Bolivian roots.

Vicente Franco Headshot

Vicente Franco

Director of Photography/Consulting Producer

Vicente Franco has more than one hundred documentary credits, including the Academy Award nominated films The Most Dangerous Man in America – Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Freedom on My Mind, and The Barber of Birmingham. He co-directed/co-produced and filmed the Oscar nominated Daughter from Danang, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Born in Madrid, Vicente has filmed extensively throughout Latin America.

Sarah Kass Headshot

Sarah Kass


Sarah Kass is a seasoned storyteller specializing in long and short form documentaries and non-fiction television. She has crafted award-winning programs that have aired on PBS, Discovery Channel, and The History Channel, and she has been the senior writer on multi-episode series. Kass has written extensively on the environment, natural history, and human rights, including multiple films for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Holocaust Museum Houston, the Goldman Environmental Prize and for numerous national parks. She has written several films about the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW2, including the Emmy award winning Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp
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Stephen Talbot

Consulting Producer

Stephen Talbot is an Emmy, duPont and Peabody-award winning filmmaker who has produced, written or directed more than 40 documentaries, mainly for public television. His latest is The Movement and the “Madman” (2023) for the PBS series American Experience. Talbot produced and wrote 10 documentaries for Frontline/PBS and went on to be the series editor for Frontline World: Stories from a Small Planet. He was co-creator and executive producer of the PBS music specials, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders and has served as senior producer of documentary shorts for the Center for Investigative Reporting and for ITVS / Independent Lens.

Christopher Hedge Headshot

Christopher Hedge

Composer/Sound Design

Christopher Hedge is known for his performances, records, film scores, and spatial sound design. Hedge has collaborated with many unique artists and musicians, including Lila Downs, Chico Freeman, David Grisman, Paul Horn, Kronos String Quartet, and Neil Young, to blend musical forms from around the world. He is committed to creating music for films with social and environmental goals. Creating music with purpose, that reflects the world we all share, has earned him widespread recognition. 

David Tecson - Water For Life

David Tecson

creative director and user experience designer

David Tecson is a creative director and user experience designer in the fields of film, television, and online media. He has served as president of Edgeworx, creating graphics and visual effects for projects such as Regarding Susan Sontag, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Operation Homecoming, Herbie: Fully Loaded, D.E.B.S., I Didn’t See You There, Freedom to Marry, Parched, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and 1971 / Independent Lens. He is Creative Director at CoSA, The Company of Science & Art where he helped develop the software After Effects. He is a board member of the downtown theater company Clubbed Thumb.

Quinn Costello Headshot

Quinn Costello

Consulting Editor

Quinn Costello is a documentary director / editor living in sunny Oakland, California. His films run the gamut with subjects ranging from environmental justice, sacred islands, swamp rats and dancing spiders. His directorial debut Rodents of Unusual Size was broadcast on Independent Lens / PBS and his portfolio of work has also been seen on Disney Plus, The Learning Channel, SkyTV, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and innumerable film festivals including Tribeca, DOCNYC and Mountainfilm Telluride.

Paulette Desormeaux Parra Headshot

Paulette Desormeaux Parra

Field Producer/Chile

Paulette Desormeaux Parra is a leader in the field of forensic, open source investigative journalism. She is cofounder of La Pública, a digital media platform covering Human Rights issues through use of the Transparency Law. Paulette is also editor in chief of the investigative unit of the Chilean TV network Megavision. 

Renato Lacayo - Water For Life

Renato Lacayo

Field Producer/Honduras

Renato Lacayo has worked as a field producer / fixer for numerous mainstream news organizations including the New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, Washington Post, The Economist, ABC, BBC, CBS, NPR, TV Globo, ZDF, and the Pulitzer Center. His documentary work has appeared on VICE, HBO and PBS.

Ernesto Avalos Headshot

Ernesto Avalos

Field Producer/El Salvador

Ernesto Avalos worked as a sound engineer for the Reuters News Agency during the Salvadoran civil war. After the government signed the Peace Accords in 1992 he began working as Telemundo’s primary cameraman in El Salvador and a freelance field producer. In 2012 Avalos began working as a producer / writer for Telesur, and in 2014 he became Telesur’s primary Salvadoran correspondent.

Paolo Hasbun - Water For Life

Paolo Hasbun

Field Producer/El Salvador

Paolo Hasbun, Salvadoran filmmaker studied documentary film at EICTV, Cuba. Throughout his professional career Paolo has worked in many forms of film, in different aspects of filmmaking process – as producer, director, writer, cinematographer, sound recordist and editor. The films he has written and directed have screened at numerous international festivals, allowing his home country to shine in the international arena.

Aldo Oviedo - Water For Life

Aldo Oviedo


Aldo Ovied, Chilean documentary filmmaker and cinematographer best known for his work on the films River Silence, Kahal Kadosh, Sacred Community and El Siniestro Doctor.  As director and director of photography he has made more than 100 films, receiving awards from dozens of international film festivals. Aldo was director of photography for the documentaries Kawesqar, Selkham and Diaguita de Pueblos Originarios.

Kylee Acevedo Headshot

Kylee Acevedo

Assistant Editor

Kylee Acevedo is an editor and assistant editor from Southeastern Massachusetts. She has edited for over a decade, often gravitating toward environmental stories & social justice projects, as well as uplifting marginalized voices. Her work has been seen on PBS, The New Yorker, and HBO. Most recent credits include the Emmy Award-winning series, The New Environmentalists, and the Oscar shortlisted Holding Moses. She is a proud member of the 2023 Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship.

Diego Luna Headshot - Water For Life

Diego Luna


Lila Downs - Water For Life

Lila Downs

Singer, ORIGINAL SONG "Ko (water)"

Daniela Millaleo - Water For Life

Daniela Millaleo

Singer/Songwriter, ORIGINAL SONG "KO (WATER)"

Advisors/Subject Matter Experts

Shannon Speed Headshot

Shannon Speed

Shannon Speed, Ph.D Chickasaw tribal member, Professor of Gender Studies and Anthropology and Director of the American Indian Studies Center (AISC) at UCLA. She received the president’s award from the American Anthropological Association for her work bringing together scholarship and activism in advocating for Indigenous and Native American women in 2021.

Dr. Ricardo Navarro Headshot

Dr. Ricardo Navarro

Dr. Ricardo Navarro, D.Sc founder and president of Friends of the Earth El Salvador and the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA). Recipient of the 1995 Goldman Environmental Prize for Central and South America.

Miguel Melin Pehuen Headshot

Miguel Melin Pehuen

Miguel Melin Pehuen, Mapuche tribal member, Professor of Intercultural Indigenous Bilingual Education (EIB) at the Catholic University of Temuco, Chile. Associate researcher at the Institute of Indigenous and Intercultural Studies of the Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco.

José Arias-Bustamante Headshot

José Arias-Bustamante

José Arias-Bustamante, Ph.D. Researcher focusing on Indigenous knowledge in reference to sustainable forest management and climate change in Mapuche communities in Chile and in the Nisga’a Nation in Canada.

Magdalena Ugarte Headshot

Magdalena Ugarte

Magdalena Ugarte, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University and Executive Director of the Network of Chilean Researchers in Canada (REDICEC). She examines the role of state-led planning in the dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Her field work was done with Mapuche communities in Curacautin, Chile.

Roxanna Marie Altholz Headshot

Roxanna Marie Altholz

Roxanna Marie Altholz, Co-Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, UC Berkeley. Led the international investigation (GAIPE) into the murder of Berta Cáceres. This ground breaking legal work led to the eventual arrest, prosecution and conviction of eight men who plotted Berta’s assassination.

Joseph Berra Headshot

Joseph Berra

Joseph Berra, Human Rights in the Americas Project Director with the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. His teaching and research interests include immigrant rights, international human rights, and the rights of Indigenous peoples in Central America. Berra coordinates projects with organizational partners in the U.S. and Latin America to engage students in human rights advocacy and the Inter-American system for human rights.

Brigitte Gynther Headshot

Brigitte Gynther

Brigitte Gynther, Latin America Liaison for The School of The Americas Watch. Lived and worked in the community of Rio Blanco, Honduras as a human rights accompanier with Berta Cáceres, documenting human rights violations, and coordinating delegations for SOAW throughout the region.

Silvio Carrillo Headshot

Silvio Carrillo

Silvio Carrillo, Journalist, is an Oakland, CA based Emmy award winning journalist / producer / filmmaker. Silvio has reported for CNN, Al Jazeera, South China Morning, Fusion Media Network and ABC-TV. Silvio is Berta Cáceres’ nephew.

Jorge F. Travieso

Jorge F. Travieso, cultural anthropologist, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, expert in Lenca Indigenous water ceremonies.

Major Funding Provided By

Just Films
Latino Publication

Additional Funding Provided By

Silicon Valley
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Film Foundation Logo
Wallace Global Fund Logo
Swift Foundation Logo

Produced In Association With

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