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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Upstream Battle

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August 14, 2009

Movie Review Friday: Upstream Battle

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Upstream Battle (2008)

Screening worldwide and available soon on DVD

This multiple-award-winning documentary by German filmmaker Ben Kempas tells the story of a battle on the verge of triggering history’s largest dam-removal project. He depicts the fight waged by Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok tribe members against the Warren Buffett-owned utility PacifiCorp, which owns four massive hydroelectric dams on the beleaguered Klamath River.

Salmon numbers have dropped from 1 million 100 years ago to just a few thousand today. In 2002, almost 70,000 salmon died in front of the Native Americans, and now there’s an unprecedented ban on salmon fishing off California and much of Oregon’s coast due to the rapid decline. Plus, many existing dams throughout America are due for relicensing review, making the Klamath particularly relevant.

To Kempas’s credit, he keeps the camera rolling, showing the many sides of this often oversimplified issue. Appearances by farmers and PacificCorp workers shed light on the challenges of pursuing change. This well-crafted, complex film is an excellent primer on issues surrounding dam decommisisoning.

--Pamela Biery

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