EXCLUSIVE: HBO Documentary Films has acquired worldwide and streaming rights to Simple as Water, a new documentary from Oscar winner Megan Mylan (Lost Boys of Sudan, Smile Pinki), which will hit theaters in limited release later this year before debuting on HBO, subsequently becoming available for streaming on HBO Max.
Mylan’s film is a meditation on the elemental bonds between parent and child. It takes audiences into Syrian families’ quests for normalcy and through a whirlwind of obstacles—to building life anew—examining the impact of war, separation and displacement.
The project was filmed in Turkey, Greece, Germany, Syria and the U.S. over the course of five years. It came to fruition through the joint efforts of small crews scattered across the world; many of those involved behind the scenes are Syrian refugees, themselves.
“I think of Simple As Water as a family love story celebrating the elemental bonds between parent and child,” Mylan said of the film, which made its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. “How do you preserve your child’s right to joy and to move slowly out of innocence when the very basics of having your family safe and together are ripped away?
“I’m grateful for the trust and collaboration of the families in the film and to our wonderfully diverse crew from all over the world who came together to craft these family portraits,” the director added. “We are thrilled to have HBO bringing this story out into the world with their passion and dynamism. I can’t imagine a better home.”
Simple as Water is a presentation of Principe Productions, in association with InMaat Productions and JustFilms/Ford Foundation. Mylan produced with Robin Hessman, with Hazem Obid, Alaa Hassan, and Yara Hassan serving as co-producers. The doc’s cinematographers were Lars Skree (The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence), Michael Chin (Eyes on the Prize) and “Rafia Salameh”—a young woman credited with a pseudonym, who must remain anonymous for her safety. Mylan and Purcell Carson edited the film, with Hanan Townshend serving as its composer.
Cinetic Media negotiated the acquisition deal on behalf of the filmmakers.