Patagonia Rising investigates a plan to build five large hydroelectric dams on two of the worlds purest free flowing rivers in Patagonia, Chile. Tracing the hydro-logic cycle of the Baker River from ice to ocean, Patagonia Rising brings voice to the frontier people caught in the crossfire of future energy demands. Juxtaposing the pro-dam business sector with renewable energy experts, the documentary brings awareness and solutions to this global conflict over water and power. Written by
An excellent movie, but you have to dig a little to really understand it
This review might be a bit biased, since I've followed this film through its filming process, also there's a small interview in it that I participate.
That being said, I can now delve into the film. Patagonia in southern Chile is truly a wonderful place. One of the few places worldwide that can be truly labeled "pristine". The people who live there are very independent and truly love their land. I've been there several times (in relation to the Hidroaysén project, actually working against it). And have come to truly appreciate these peoples. The region has even adopted as a motto: "Aysén, Reserva de Vida" (Aysén, a reserve for life). These people already managed to stop a large project that would have put aluminum smelters in the Aysén fiord, so this project was also opposed by a very high percentage of the community.
The idea of the project was to, ostensibly, provide renewable and clean energy for Chile. However in Chile most of the increase of electrical demand comes from the mining sector, so it truly doesn't make sense to destroy the Baker and Pascua Rivers to provide electrical energy to the mines up north. Specially since in the same places there's the highest solar energy resource worldwide.
That being said, the film interviews a lot of people, both proponents and opponents of the project. But the most poignant interviews are the ones with the people that actually live there.
The pace is rather slow, the vistas truly breathtaking. The filmmakers have really stressed the huge contradiction that to have "progress" one must destroy a wonderful resource and biosphere reserve.
Fortunately the project has been stopped (not definitely killed, but stopped). Mostly because it's a crazy project, way too expensive and because that today there are much better options to provide the electricity that we truly need. In fact already we have well over 25% of our total electricity from renewables and only in the last couple of years well over 2500 MW of wind and solar has been put online.
If the dams had been built, the first one would have come online well after 2024.
So the film is really worth seeing. A bit slow perhaps, but with great value.
Specially because you'll come in contact with people who have a different mindset and truly believe that development doesn't imply tearing up your home...
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