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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

UVM Student Film Imagines A Dystopian, Water-Starved New England

Matthew Lipke, a student at the University of Vermont, will debut his distopian film "Elixir" Friday, May 1 at the Roxy theater in Burlington.

Try to imagine New England 100 years into the future. A future in which access to water isn't a right, but a privilege controlled by the powerful. That's the premise of a new science fiction action film that was written, produced and directed by University of Vermont Matthew Lipke. 

The film is called Elixir and it debuts Friday night at the Roxy theater in Burlington.

On the basic plot of the film

"Elixir takes place ... in the 2015. And basically, over the past 100 years there's been severe environmental disaster and famine and wars, and total anarchy all over the world ... Our story focuses in on three individuals who belong to a group called Resisters who are basically fighting against a big, giant corporation who's privatized whatever fresh water sources are remaining in the country."

On the connection to current events

"I'm a water resources major at UVM, and I've studied a lot of different cases studies all around the world where water rights, water availability, privatization issues have occurred. And so, that's kind of the basis of our premise, taking real-world situations and kind of turning it into a fictional film that's grounded in reality ... In California right now, with the 10-year drought they're in, but they still let companies like Nestle bottle, you know, millions of gallons of water, and they're taking it out of the state. And so, that is very much the basis of the premise of the film."

On the use of Vermont actors, crew members and places

"This was filmed 100 percent in Vermont, using all Vermont towns, mostly from the Burlington area and some from Rutland and the southern part of the state. We filmed a little bit around UVM and a lot in the Audubon Society in Richmond."

On the hopeful message of the film

"There's hope, definitely, instilled within the film. We're not presenting certain viewpoints ... We're just trying to bring these issues to light. Here in Vermont ... We have a lot of water. We take it for granted sometimes. The point of Elixir is to show people that water is, you know, a limited resource. Without water, there is no life."

Elixir premiers Friday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at the Roxy theater in Burlington. Find tickets here.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Alex was a reporter and host of VPR's local All Things Considered. He was also the co-host and co-creator of the VPR program Brave Little State.
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