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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SIFF Sighting: DAMNATION (Documentary; USA)

Beginning in the 1930s, America began a love affair with the construction of dams. They brought power (one of America's favorite things), jobs and recreational opportunities, so they were generally hailed as positive developments.

But not by everyone...

Native American tribes that lived on land impacted by dam construction mourned the loss of nature's rhythms and those who fished those waters were devastated by the near-extinction of salmon that the dams caused.

Environmentalists, such as those who were part of the Earth First! movement, began taking action by way of elaborate stunts such as painting cracks down the dams. Decades later some of the dams are coming down, but not all of them.

This film definitely "takes sides" with the environmentalists, pointing out how wind power is wasted, wild salmon runs are in danger, and many of the existing dams aren't providing much for what the taxpayers are shelling out each year to keep them running.

It's hard not to get angry when you see that—yet again—Alaska residents are willing to risk their wildlife for presumed profit.

That said, I would have liked to see a little more balance and exploration of the (agreeably few) dams that have prevented floods, provided a sustainable method of power and helped the economy by employing citizens with long-term jobs.

It's a conversation worth having.

DAMNATION screened at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival.


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