On The Screen: DamNation

A few weeks ago, I was seeing the border on a little quilt project and wanted some noise on in the background. I browsed Netflix and selected DamNation. It didn’t take long for me to put down the quilt and just watch the movie.

DamNation discusses the issues associated with the dam removal movement. The centerpiece of the film is the Elwah Dam removal but other major dam removal projects in Oregon and Maine as well as discussion surrounding other dams. I love the Olympic Peninsula so I was particularly interested in the Elwah project. I really am looking forward to finding the time to go up and check out the ecosystem’s recovery progress!

The movie is relatable; filmmakers Matt Stoecker, Travis Rummel, and Ben Knight make the viewer understand the drive behind the movement to remove dams that have a larger negative environmental impact than a positive economic impact. The visuals of dam removal and the restoration of habitats is very impactful.

This movie grabbed me enough that I immediately found a way to insert it into my environmental science class. Perhaps the best endorsement for the film is that my students loved it. It started very positive conversation about how dams fit into our energy future in this country. The video of dam removal seemed particularly impactful.

The movie won awards from SXSW, the Environmental Film Festival in DC, 5Point Film Festival, MountainFILM, Kendal Mountain Film Festival, and more. The accolades are well deserved and this documentary is worthy of viewing by anyone on either side of discussions regarding dams purpose in our society.
All photos courtesy DamNation press page.

On The Screen: Mile… Mile and Half

Although Saturday morning was special in that I finished piecing the hexagons for my quilt, I followed my usual practice of drinking coffee between pieces and watching something on my laptop. While I was browsing Netflix, Mile, Mile and A Half showed up in my suggestions. I was super excited since I’d been hearing about it for quite awhile but some how hadn’t gotten around to it.

It wound up being a really hard film to watch while quilting. Even as excited as I was to finish, the quilt lay dormant in my hands a lot as I was completely fascinated by the gorgeous footage of the high Sierras. I haven’t spent any time in the Sierras and this film really made me want to go check it out.

Mile… Mile and Half tells the story of a group of friends that not only sets out to hike California’s 210 mile long John Muir Trail but also to document their hike. They absolutely killed it at the documentation part. This is one visually stunning documentary.

I was skeptical about how much I would actually enjoy the story of their particular thru-hike. I mentioned in my review of the really enjoyable Almost Somewhere that some trail memoirs are really painful for me and in the first ten minutes of of Mile Mile and Half, I started to fear this was going to be one of those memoirs. It wasn’t. This group of friends tackled pass after pass in a really high snowpack year and with each one, I cheered them on a little more. They were frank and honest about their challenges but they also remained happy and upbeat throughout the hike.

For someone who would love to visit “The Range of Light,” this film was exciting. (And for that same person whose vehicle is not currently running it was frustrating to not be in the mountains…) I’m not sure that for non-hikers this film would hold one’s attention. It is visually appealing and that might be enough. But for an outdoors person? The enthusiasm of Durand, Ric, Jen, Jason, and Zee is infectious. I wanted to run to the Sierra, and being unable to do that, I wanted to immediately find myself in the mountains of Colorado.

Mile… Mile And A Half is currently streaming on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. It is definitely worth your viewing time!

On The Screen: King Corn & Girls

I got sucked into watching King Corn and episode one of Girls last night instead of writing a post… so today you get the quickest of quick blurbs about both.

The short version: Watch King Corn, prepared to feel a bit fatalistic about farming and food production in America. Watch Girls, if only to formulate your own opinion (there’s plenty of cultural criticism pieces on the internet if you’re so inclined).

The longer version:

I really enjoyed King Corn. The two film makers leave Boston and travel to Iowa to raise an acre of corn and follow it through the industrialized farm/food system. There was very little new information I learned in the film and it only furthered my insistence that we need new (less?) farm policy in this country.

I also liked Girls. It is an interesting take on people who are supposed to be my contemporaries. While my life looks nothing like theirs (aka no parental support, decent job, rural vs New York) there are certain things I relate to in the post-college I’m supposed to be an adult but don’t really feel like one sense. I’m interested to see how some of the characters develop over the season.

Edit: I wasn’t completely unproductive yesterday. I had a Skype date with lovely friends. I washed the wheels on my Jeep (Forrest changed his mind about what tires he wanted on there again). So not completely wasted….