Salt of the Earth - the Dead Sea Movie Makes Realtime Waves

Published: Sat Aug 21 2010

Documentary filmmaker Sol Goodman is putting the finishing touches on his new project, "Salt of the Earth." It is the story of a sea thick with minerals, a work crew operating dredgers that will extract those minerals, and the dire consequences to the sea. Goodman's story, as skipper on those dredgers, is a first-hand account of the plight of the Dead Sea.

"As an integral part of the environment, I realized the great clash of interests between the beautiful Dead Sea environment and the industry that sets out to exploit it. The next realization came a little slow. We measured the receding sea level and knew it was disappearing, then one day at work I realized, that it's disappearing because of me.

Goodman spent his early childhood in the landlocked state of Kansas. By the time he hit his teenage years, he had moved with his family to Israel, where he developed an undying love for the sea. He spent his high school years in a maritime boarding school where he enjoyed sailing, diving and exploring the coast.

In his 20s he was very content to sail the oceans and explore the world until he ran into the Dead Sea. His work on the Dead Sea dredger, "Maria", is the one that is kicking him in the butt. He must spread the word about the Dead Sea so the situation can be reversed. He knows if the global public knows the story, they will save the sea. More details are available at: ....

The Dwindling Dead Sea

The water levels are receding by more than one meter every year with no sign of relief in sight. Why is that? A number of causes. Its only inlet of fresh water is from the Jordan River, but that supply is down to a meager 5-10% of what it should be. More than 90% of the water is siphoned off for agricultural purposes and industry before it ever reaches the Dead Sea. The water that does get to the sea is being siphoned off by industrial dredgers and relieved of its minerals, causing further destruction to the pools and the environment of the sea.

Salt of the Earth is a movie about the environmental disaster that's happening right now on the Dead Sea. It's being gracious with us and it's happening slowly, leaving us a window of opportunity. It is the story of the Dead Sea through the eyes of the men that mine it, they have something to tell that everyone should hear.

The Dead Sea is important to a whole bunch of people and for good reason. It is a special sea engulfed in a climate that is unmatched anywhere. Tourists come from every corner of the globe to float in the mineral laden water and people with skin ailments or various diseases forgo medical treatment in favor of a dip in the sea. The mineral-rich water and a healthy dose of sunshine at the lowest point on earth combine to make it a one-of-a-kind environment.

Goodman, a skipper since the age of 16, got a job working the dredgers on the Dead Sea. He, along with his seasoned crew, noticed the damage they were doing to the sea but kept the secret to themselves. None of them wanted to risk their future livelihood. So long as there were minerals in the Dead Sea, they would have a job. Now, following the BP oil disaster, they're having second thoughts.

According to Goodman, "The harsh conditions take their toll on the men and on the sea, the work is endless. The heat is unbearable and from their focal point in the lowest point on earth, they watch the level of the Dead Sea plummet."

Goodman walked away from that job to study filmmaking. He had stories to tell and the first one was going to be the story of the Dead Sea. His work experience there hit him hard. Loathe to keep his story inside, he's telling the world. In collaboration with the award winning producer and director, Hilla Medalia, he is sharing the story, the documentary, "Salt of the Earth." To be a part of this project, go to: ...

New Seven Wonders

And as things go, this year, on the same week the Dead Sea was nominated as a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of the World competition, Goodman's old crew was called up for a delicate task. The huge pump that siphons the Dead Sea water into the evaporation ponds (to be dredged) was clogged. Why? Because of the receding water levels. So the five men from the dredger, "Maria" were called up to dig a canal to keep the pump working until the point that the decreasing water level stops them for good.

Goodman relates, "It the story of five hard working men in inhumane conditions. Extreme heat, endless hard work and intense personal relationships. It's a human story paralleled by natural disaster playing out in real time, a live display showing the results of our mass consumption.

It's a real dilemma. The magnesium, potash, aluminum and concentrated chorine are some of the main resources mined from the sea. As the world population grows and modern society expands, so does the need for these precious minerals. As consumers continue to consume at ever increasing levels, mining the minerals becomes more of a necessity.

Sol Goodman and Hilla Medalia have worked hard bringing their story, Salt of the Earth, to the big screen. The documentary is in the final stages, but they must procure funding to continue. In an effort to raise the necessary funds they created a project on Kickstarter, the website that promotes funding for filmmakers. Once created, the site allows anyone to make a pledge from $1 to become a backer of the film. The creator has 45 days to reach a minimum of $5,000 in pledges, at which time all of the money is turned over for film production. Goodman says the project has 30 days to remaining.

As Goodman concludes, "As the sea level quickly dwindles, the industry around the Dead Sea is artificially maintaining the sea for tourism purposes. With mixed messages coming from scientists, there are five men, working together for 35 years now that know the one truth. Without immediate intervention, the Dead Sea will be truly dead in 15 years."

Save the Sea

The only thing lacking in this documentary, Salt of the Earth, is a solution. An answer that would save the sea without harming the water properties and its natural environment. But that's not the function of the film. There are a lot of scientists and environmentalists out there who can come up with a viable solution. But Salt of the Earth, through its stories, its dialogue, its imagery can bring the tale to those who can help.

Personal resources to produce this documentary were depleted long ago, but by clicking on Kickstarter, the general public now has the opportunity to help complete this project.

According to Goodman, "Time is running out for both the Kickstarter program (in its final 30 days) and the Dead Sea (final generation?).

Goodman states that public support will save the sea for future generations. Go to ... for more details.
Contact Name: Gayla Goodman
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