Paul Lazarus, Director: SLINGSHOT Documentary at Cinequest
Silicon Valley may know Dean Kamen as the inventor of the Segway. But he is an amazing inventor and trying to use his genius to help solve the world’s clean water problem. We don’t worry much about water here other than our perpetual drought, but we have it good in the USA – our water is clean for the most part. 50 percent of all human illness is the result of water borne pathogens. Dean Kamen has invented an energy efficient vapor-compression distiller that can turn any unfit source of water into potable, safe water. Paul Lazarus directed this important documentary.
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of SLINGSHOT, from concept to financing.
We have been working on this movie for seven years. When inventor, Dean Kamentold me about his work on providing the world with clean, safe water, I thought it was potentially the most important challenge he’d ever tackled and I suggested we make a movie about it. We have covered the development of the machine at Dean’s research company, in Ghana, Paraguay and all across the United States.
2Q: Cinequest is hosting the World Premiere of SLINGSHOT. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
After all this time, it’s a little frightening to bring the film before the public. We want so badly for the film to succeed and help tell the story of this lifesaving technology and help spread this amazing technology all over the planet. It feels like so much is at stake. But, as Dean Kamen says, the safest place for a ship is in the harbor, it just doesn’t do any good there. We hope that the movie both inspires and entertains the people that see it.
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making SLINGSHOT?
Best was going to Ghana two times and meeting incredible people like Lydia Odum, the headmistress of a small school 90-minutes north of Accra. And the kids, who always seemed happy to see us. Worst was trying to raise the money to make the film.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
Too often, especially with issue documentaries, you leave the theater feeling helpless and hopeless. We believe that people who take the time to see SlingShot will leave the theater hopeful, energized and feeling like they might be able to make a difference.
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Best Picture Oscar for SLINGSHOT. Give us your acceptance speech.
Thank you to the hundreds of people who helped create this film. I hope in some small way it will make you think about the world’s safe water crisis. I want to quote a man who has devoted over 15 years of his life trying to create a machine that can turn any form of bad, unclean water into safe, pure water: ”We could empty half of all beds in all the hospitals in the world by just giving people clean water.”