“Wolfpack” director turns to water crisis in new project

Just over a year since her Sundance debut with The Wolfpack, filmmaker Crystal Moselle (pictured, left) tells realscreen about her latest project, a Stella Artois-commissioned doc short series tackling the global water crisis. (Pictured, right: Marie of Water Front)
March 22, 2016

Just over a year since her award-winning turn at the Sundance Film Festival, The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle is at work on a three-part doc short series on the global water crisis.

Titled Water Front, the Stella Artois-commissioned series is part of the brewing company’s “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign with, and finds Moselle helming films on water issues in Haiti, Kenya and Peru, and how they affect women in these countries. To mark World Water Day  (March 22), the campaign has released a sneak peek of the Haiti episode (preview below). Moselle returned from filming in Kenya on Monday (March 21) and will soon travel to Peru to shoot the third installment. The full series is to be released later this year, though a platform is as-yet-unannounced.

“It was kind of this realization that I have, how I want to use film as a vehicle to help people,” Moselle tells realscreen, just an hour after returning home from Kenya. “After The Wolfpack, I was trying to put the pieces together of what really had me going with these boys [the subjects of that film] for so long. I think there was this underlying kind of drive of wanting to help them, and when I started out with this project, I realized that was the connection that really drove my passion for this one as well.”

The Wolfpack follows six brothers – then between the ages of 16 and 24 – who were raised in a cramped apartment in the Lower East Side and rarely allowed to venture outside until around 2010, when they met Moselle on a street corner. As the director told realscreen last year about her five-year relationship with the family, “We’re just friends. We hang out.” But the documentary effectively changed the lives of the Angulos, who are now very much in the public eye, with some brothers even working in film production.

water front

Water Front

Moselle was wrapping up press for The Wolfpack when she was approached by Stella Artois about Water Front, and says the project was “the perfect thing” for her at that point. Her 13-minute film on Haiti is produced by Fazeelat Aslam, director of the Oscar-winning Saving Face, and edited by The Wolfpack editor Enat Sidi.

The film – which Moselle intended to be more character-driven than journalistic – is a portrait of Marie (pictured, right), a midwife based in the Haitian town of Lévêque, who spends two to three hours each day locating and purifying water for her large family.

“It’s really intense to be with a family that is struggling to find food and water every day of their lives – just these basic needs that we take for granted,” says Moselle, who spent about two weeks in Haiti. “The thing is that Marie was so incredibly resilient and powerful with keeping her family inspired and motivated, but the anxiety that woman goes through every day is unbelievable.

“I never thought of myself as specifically an activist, but I think that’s the direction my life is going in now… I feel very passionate.”

The filmmaker, who has done a number of fashion- and media-related commercial projects in the past, calls her partnership with Stella Artois “a true collaboration, which is pretty unheard of in the commercial world.” Though the company provided notes, she says she had final cut on the film.

Moselle recently spent 10 days in Kenya shooting the second installment of Water Front. She says that that doc - made with a different producer – focuses on another level of the water crisis. It’s less dire than the situation in Haiti, but still distressing.

“Kenya is different. This community we came into, it’s a bunch of women helping each other. They have farms, they create these baskets that they sell, they have an income,” says Moselle. “But still, they’re having to go to the river to fetch water, they’re still having to deal with this every single day of their lives.”

Moving forward, Moselle says she hopes to work on projects that are meaningful and character-driven, but which also tackle strong social issues. Currently, she has two films in development and is also writing a narrative script.

  • Check out a sneak peek of Water Front’s Haiti installment below:

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.