Something in the Water

Josalynn Smith, Writer/Director 

Sloan Grant(s) Received: 2019, Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship, SFFILM 

Project Type: Feature 

Genre: Drama 

Length: 109 pages 

Field of Science: Environmental Science 

Stage: Development 


After moving to St. Louis from Chicago so her mother may care for her ailing grandfather, sixteen-year-old Leah feels isolated and ignored as she’s bused to an overwhelmingly white school in St. Louis County. She takes solace in caring for her five-year-old brother Demarcus who seems to get along well with the kids from their neighborhood school in the city’s majority black district. However, when Leah observes that Demarcus’s rowdy behavior has turned uncontrollable, she begins to research her brother’s condition at her well-resourced county school. Soon, Leah discovers that lead is the cause of her brother’s changes after he gets a blood test during a check-up. Now, tasked with finding the source of the contamination and advocating for a systemic overhaul, a girl, once ignored, begins to find her voice.