Dams, Flooding & Sea Level Rise
We are excited to share three films that tie dams, flooding, and sea level rise together.
First is Anthony Svatek's .TV, a found footage film that takes us to the remote island of Tuvalu and explores how the inundation of the island is eroding not only its coastline, but its culture. It's title ".TV" describes the popular domain that serves as the money maker for the island, and is likely all that will soon remain of it – not the island itself, its people, or its history. The implication that technology could live beyond our natural systems is
The geo-engineering of hydropower dams, as explored next in Patagonia Films award-winning documentary DamNation, touches on similar pressure points. It raises the question: what good are big dams as"forward progress" when fish habitats, river ecosystems, and Indigenous communities across the western United States continue to be negatively impacted?
Finally, we move to the coast of Louisiana as depicted in the fantastical feature film and academy award nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film depicts an imagined area that in reality, is battered again and again by extreme hurricanes and threatened by sea level rise. We see the forewarned impacts of climate change played out in the life of Hushpuppy and the people of the "Bathtub" -- a defiant Bayou community disconnected from the mainland and threatened to wash away with an impending, final storm. Without the protections of the levees, the population that is embedded in the fabric of rich Creole culture is disproportionately impacted by the rising seas.
Voicemails left by an anonymous caller from the future guide us to the remote islands of Tuvalu, a place the global media has described as “the first country to disappear due to rising sea levels."
Surrounded by thousands of miles of open water, much of Tuvalu’s revenue comes from its country-code web extension .TV, a popular domain choice among global video-streaming and television industries. The caller describes how heat, digital screens, and distance gave him no choice but to leave his sinking home and escape into cyberspace where rising waters will never reach him.
WINNER: Golden Gate Award for Best New Vision Short at 61st San Francisco International Film Festival.
Length: 22 mins
Director: Anthony Svatek
This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.
Length: 93 mins
Directors: Ben Knight and Travis Rummel
Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation's majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.
About Beasts of the Southern Wild
In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality.
Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2013: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress (Wallis). At age 9, Wallis became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history.
Length: 94 mins
Director: Benh Zietlin
Available below or wherever you find your podcasts
S2, E6: Bide(n) Time for America's Water Resources
Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, believes Joe Biden could be the man to save American water policy, which has been foundering under Donald Trump. In his co-authored policy brief, Water Recommendations to the Next President, Gleick and his colleagues lay out the biggest issues with US water safety and access, and what President Elect Biden needs to do to guarantee continued clean water for all Americans and limit the global repercussions of climate change.
S1, E10: Want to Handle Floods? Leave it to the Dutch.
Host Jay Famiglietti speaks with globe-trotting water expert Henk Ovink about the Dutch approach to water, particularly in comparison to North America. They explore the difference between how humans react to disaster versus how they react to climate change. Both are fraught with danger.
Viewing Party & Film Forum
May 26, 2021
On May 26, we hosted our first-ever virtual viewing party as part of our LTAW Film Festival. We screened the film DamNation and had a chat with our founder and director, Linda Lilienfeld, about how Let's Talk About Water began.
As part of the viewing party, we partnered with the 501(c)(3) non-profit One Tree Planted, to plant a tree on behalf of every attendee. Our host institution, the Global Institute for Water Security, matched the number attendees 1:1 to help further contribute to habitat restoration and carbon sequestration on a global scale. In total, 158 trees were planted in honor of our attendees.
Following the conversation with Linda, we hosted a virtual forum with featured experts discussing the impacts of dams on ecosystems and communities.
Dr. Graham Strickert, University of Saskatchewan
Dr. Graham Strickert is a social-systems scientist specializing in hazards, with an interest in how human behaviors influence the environment around us, especially in light of extreme environmental events. His work has taken him from avalanche hazards that plague the ski industry in New Zealand, to the intricacies of water security in the Saskatchewan River Basin, and many places in-between. He is very interested in bridging the gap that exists between academia and the public, and has been making research relatable to the broader public through innovative means, like forum theatre.
Sarah Cox, Investigative Reporter & Author
Sarah is the B.C. investigative reporter for The Narwhal, an on-line magazine that features in-depth and investigative reporting on Canada’s natural environment. She is also the author of the 2018 prize-winning book Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro. Sarah’s reporting on the Site C dam for The Narwhal earned a World Press Freedom prize this year, which recognizes public interest journalism that overcomes secrecy, intimidation and refusal to comply with freedom of information requests or other efforts to foil reporting.
Jeff Duda, Research Ecologist
Jeff Duda is a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Fisheries Research Center in Seattle, Washington. At USGS for 23 years, he has conducted research to determine the ecological effects of human activities and natural disturbance regimes on a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial organisms and ecosystems throughout the United States. Since 2004, Jeff has led research teams and developed research studies and monitoring programs in freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems to understand the ecological outcomes of the largest dam removal in U.S. history on the Elwha River in Washington State. He was a Principal Investigator on a recent project synthesizing the science describing physical and ecological effects of dam removal at the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis in Fort Collins, Colorado.