2019 | 52 min | AUSTRALIA
Directed by: Rory McLeod
Australian Premiere

An Australian-made exploration of the rules governing the Murray Darling Basin and how they are destroying the environment, causing extinction-level events, and displacing communities. With water rights and security becoming increasingly vital issues for communities, When the River Runs Dry offers hope for a better water future. 

In January 2019, a viral video showed grown men near Menindee weeping as they held dead Murray Cod, decades old, which had perished in yet another environmental disaster.  Australians were horrified, and politicians blamed drought, while ecologists and water management specialists claimed it was due to the over-allocation and over-extraction of water.

Two weeks later, it was forgotten. 

News that the Darling River, or Barka, as it is known to its people, was in a state of ecological collapse had disappeared from the media and, although people were shouting about what was happening, no one was listening. Who was to blame? And what could be done?

When the River Runs Dry shines a spotlight on the appalling plans of the NSW Government, the big-business greed selling of water, and the Murray Darling Basin Management who are responsible for implementing those plans, which will culminate in the ‘decommissioning’ of the Menindee Lakes, a 30-million-year-old lake system.

The film brings Indigenous voices to the fore in the form of the Barkindji, the people of the River, who, after one hundred and seventy years, have become dispossessed and marginalised. The Barkindji survived because of the Barka, the Darling River, and now, due to the decimation of this vital river system, it is being taken from them and they no longer feel connected to their dreaming, their totems, or their culture.

When the River Runs Dry is a pivotal moment in Australia’s environmental history. It will shine a light on what is happening and manifest how we, as a country, need to bring this immense, beautiful and remote river system back from the brink of catastrophe.

This film is both a celebration of the resilience of people and nature, and a call to arms. The Barkindji cannot afford to lose this fight. Australia cannot afford to lose this fight.

*This film has been exempt from classification and is restricted to people over 15 years. People under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.