What is DamNation?

Felicia Hamilton's picture
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A documentary about dams, hydropower, and people.

official DamNation poster

Fisheries are a important topic among Montanans. With some of the best trout streams in the country, we value the continued health of our rivers. The upcoming documentary film DamNation tackles this issue, among others. "Damnation" is perhaps the best word to express people's opinions and hopes regarding dams in America—and is therefore an apt title for this edifying film.

Photo by Matt Stoecker

Before watching this documentary, I knew very little about dams and the volatile debates surrounding them. I'm still no expert, but I now have an interest in the subject and a desire to participate in these debates—I now know that it's an extremely important issue for us and future generations. DamNation presents the history of American dams from the post-WWII surge in dam construction around the 1950s to today’s political arguments and the push for dam demolition on many fronts. It explores the environmental, economic, and social repercussions of dams and, in the process, presents the viewer with one conclusion: dams must be damned. And some already have been. The demolition scenes are some of the most powerful, tense moments within the film. 

Photo by Ben Knight

The film makes its point by contrasting the wild beauty of natural, flowing water bodies with the dirty, stagnant reservoirs that are often the by-product of dams—which can lead to the decay of entire ecosystems in the name of hydropower. Between these disparate scenarios are stories and expert testimony relating everything from simple acts of protest to the devestation of an entire culture. It would be hard to walk away from this film without learning something new, questioning one's own opinions, and becoming a more concerned citizen. If nothing else, the ending will make you laugh.

Those concerned with the health of our waters, or just want to broaden their horizons, should head over to the Ellen Theater on June 20th at 6:30 pm. For more information about the film, visit damnationfilm.com.

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