There's an anger in the tapestry of Shelby Baldock's mesmerizing animated short We Got a Problem With Groundwater. It's the kind of anger that rests deep within the bones of a society and its people. It's an anger that permeates every word of Noah C. Lekas's acclaimed poem upon which this film is based.
You can tell that Baldock understands this anger and this resignation and the blood that flows beneath our feet and impacts everything we do and everything we are.
To call We Got a Problem With Groundwater a beautiful film seems somehow incomplete. Oh sure, We Got a Problem With Groundwater is a beautiful film but it's also an immersive film that grabs your bones in its opening seconds and rattles them until the closing credits have scrolled on by.
Then, it rattles 'em a bit longer.
The narration by Ron Gephart is sublime. It's the kind of narrative work narrators strive for but seldom achieve. Gephart himself understands every word here and he brings every single word to life in this Gold Winner in the 2020 Bowery Awards. There's just a hint of comedy here. It's a cultural humor, Midwest inspired in a world where industrialization trumps humanity and the things we want become more important than the things we actually need. The film explores, quite vividly, the bloodstained price one man pays for the notebooks his factory produces. This man's life is in these notebooks, literally and figuratively.
He knows it. We know it.
Having screened at LA Shorts International Film Festival and Indie Memphis, We Got a Problem With Groundwater is the kind of film that deserves to be seen and deserves to be seen often. It's one of the best shorts of the year, though this type of short seldom gets the attention it deserves in a world that so often prefers escapism over darkly comical confrontation.
Baldock supplies the music here alongside Jeff Culley, Pierce Martin, and Sean Roulier. It's a perfect accompaniment for the film, though if you're not immersed in the film's visuals and Gephart's remarkable narration there's likely something wrong with you already. A veteran of work with the Grammy Awards and the North Mississippi All-Stars, Baldock expands upon his stellar artistic vision with this film and its place within Piano Man Pictures.
We Got a Problem With Groundwater is a great film. Truly. It's also a meaningful film that demands you think and demands you feel. If you don't do both, then you're probably already dead.