Documentaries & Movies on Dams
Damocracy is a film about the cultural and natural heritage the world could lose if two
controversial large-scale dams are built despite widespread opposition and resistance – the Belo
Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon and the Ilisu Dam in southeast Turkey.
By focusing on impacts such as a permanent drought on the Xingu River’s “Big Bend” and the
sinking of a city in Turkey that dates back to the Bronze Age, Damocracy exposes the myth of
large-scale dams as clean energy. It reveals the undemocratic processes forcing these dams onto
an unconsenting public by governments steamrolling national laws and international regulations.
Patagonia Rising (2011)
This documentary investigates a controversial plan to build five large hydroelectric dams in Chile's
famed wilderness, leaving a lasting cultural and environment impact on the region and its gaucho
Hoover Dam: American Experience (1999) (Modern Marvels: Hoover Dam)
Venture into the Southwestern desert and learn the complete story of one of the seven
engineering wonders of the world -- the Hoover Dam. See incredible footage that documents
every step of the monumental work of taming the Colorado River to provide water and power to
California, Nevada and Arizona. It's the story of the ingenuity and manpower that literally moved
a river and sculpted a mountain of concrete.
Building Big: Dams (2000)
Explore man's never-ending quest to control water flow in this documentary hosted by David
Macaulay. The film focuses on the significance and power of dam structures such as Egypt's
Aswan Dam; explores the reasons for the deadly 1889 flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; and
reveals the visionaries behind the engineering feats, including Hoover Dam's relentless chief
engineer, Frank Crowe. Extras include a mini-dam-building activity for kids.
El Gigante (2012)
Documentary about the El Quimbo dam in Colombia.
Direction: Andrea Ciacci & Bruno Federico
Spanish with German subtitles
Three Gorges: Biggest Dam in the World (2005)
Narrated by Jodie Foster, this remarkable program explores the construction of the biggest dam
on earth, designed to tame China's Yangtze River. For centuries, the rising water of the river has
caused numerous tragedies, killing many and forcing multitudes of citizens to leave their
ancestral homes and cities. With 40,000 people involved in its creation, the massive Three Gorges
Dam will be 650 feet high and more than 2 miles across.
China's Mega Dam (2006)
This awe-inspiring documentary from the Discovery Channel lets viewers stand on the sidelines of
the largest public works project in human history: the Three Gorges Dam on China's Yangtze
River. But aside from concerns about the effects the massive structure will have on the
surrounding landscape and the people who live in its shadow, one important question remains:
Will the "dam thing" actually work?
River Ways (2007)
Filmmaker Colin Stryker journeys to Washington state, where he chronicles the lives of everyday
citizens struggling on either side of a divisive issue: whether to remove a series of hydroelectric
dams from the Snake River. While groups of American Indians, environmentalists and fishermen
advocate for removing the dams to replenish the local salmon population, farmers and other
locals rely on the dams as an inexpensive source of electricity.
Extreme Engineering: The El Cajon Dam (2006)NR
Designed to hold back the mighty waters of the Rio Grande, the innovative El Cajon Dam will
eventually stand an impressive 186 meters high and provide 2 percent of Mexico's electricity.
Around the world, ambitious engineers continue to design modern wonders to revolutionize
global industry, and this installment from the popular Discovery Channel series captures one such
monumental leap in technology.
American Experience: Grand Coulee Dam (2012)NR
Featuring those who lived and worked at Grand Coulee, alongside historians and engineers, this
film explores how the crucial tension between technological achievement and environmental
impact hangs over the project's legacy
Dambusters: The True Story (1993)NR
Exploring the amazing true story of the historic World War II Dambusters Raid -- when English
planes dropped bouncing bombs to destroy German dams -- this documentary features
interviews with mission pilots and archival footage of special bomb tests. The bouncing bombs
had to be dropped from exactly 60 feet while under fire, making the success of the 19 Lancaster
pilots on this dangerous mission an extraordinary feat.
The Dam Busters (1955)NR
This critically acclaimed film centers on the invention and development of the breakthrough
World War II-era "bouncing bomb," an explosive designed to drop into reservoirs and cause
massive flooding to Germany's industrial hub.
Nova: Bombing Hitler's Dams
2012, 1hr 52m
In 1943 a squadron of Lancaster bombers staged one of the most audacious raids in history,
destroying two gigantic dams in Germany's industrial heartland with a revolutionary bouncing
bomb invented by British engineer Barnes Wallis. Now, NOVA re-creates the extreme engineering
challenges faced by Wallis and the pilots.
Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke (2003)
A rising dam threatens to submerge a small town in this gripping disaster film. When the Rutland
Dam's water level reaches a dangerous high, a terrible accident occurs, and architect David
Powell (Joe Lando) realizes the dam is going to burst. Powell tries to convince his son and the
mayor (Michele Greene) to evacuate Rutland before it's under water, but a corrupt construction
company president (Bruce Boxleitner) is determined to discredit him.
As a 100-year-old dam threatens to rupture and claim thousands of innocent lives, nine troubled
souls -- including a TV journalist (Linda Arsenio) and two sailors (Joshua Fredric Smith and Vinay
Rai) -- fail to keep their deepest emotions bottled up inside. Inspired by the devastating 1975
Banqiao Dam disaster, director Sohan Roy's feature-film debut focuses on stories of lost love and
Beneath Still Waters (2005)
After an otherworldly force starts consuming a small town and its residents, authorities build a
dam and submerge the village forever. But 40 years later, when the history of the area has
become a vague memory, the malevolent being rises again. Now, it is hell-bent on creating terror
for the inhabitants of a neighboring town. Set in Spain, this supernatural thriller is directed by
Brian Yuzna, who produced the 1985 cult hit Re-Animator.
Up the Yangtze(Sur le Yangzi) (2007)
When the Three Gorges Dam makes life hard for the Yu family, daughter Yu Shui must take a job
aboard a cruise ship, where she enters into a dizzying microcosm of modern China. Meanwhile,
her parents face the rising waters of the Yangtze.
Dambusters Raid (1998)NR
This documentary uses archival footage and interviews to chronicle the daring Allied plan to
precision-bomb critical dams deep inside Germany on May 17, 1943, a raid carried out by the U.S.
Army 8th Air Force and the British RAF. The success of these attacks, which made use of special
tubular bombs designed to bounce across the surface of the water to defeat German defenses,
proved to be an important development in the Allied war effort.
Last of the Dambusters (2008)NR
Narrated by Stephen Fry, this compelling documentary follows George "Johnny" Johnson, one of
the last surviving members of the RAF's 617 Squadron -- known for its extraordinary Dambusters
Raid -- as he returns to Germany to relive his heroic past. Now 86, Johnson reflects on the mission
to drop bouncing bombs on German dams, providing an inside look at the famous historical air
raid and his views on the event half a century after the war.
A Place in the World (Un Lugar en el Mundo) (1992)PG
In a desolate Argentine valley, idealist Mario (Federico Luppi) and his wife (Cecilia Roth) work
tirelessly to improve the lives of peasants -- whose homes and livelihoods may be jeopardized if
unscrupulous industrialists opt to build a hydroelectric dam nearby. Director Adolfo Aristarain's
finely crafted drama is told through the eyes of the couple's adolescent son (Gaston Batyi), a shy
and sensitive boy about to experience his first romance.
Where the Rivers Flow North (1993)PG-13
In 1927 backwoods Vermont, intractable logger Noel Lord (Rip Torn, in a critically acclaimed
performance) faces down a power company in a bid to hold onto his land. Though all of Lord's
neighbors have sold out to the company -- which plans to build a hydroelectric dam -- he remains
resolute in his determination to stay. But corporate executives (Bill Raymond and Michael J. Fox),
backed by money and the law, are equally determined to roust Lord.
Upstream Battle(Stromaufwärts) (2008)NR
Documentarian Ben Kempas followed his subjects for two years to craft this thought-provoking
film about the Klamath River and the ongoing battle over its use. The complex story involves the
operators of the hydroelectric dams that are cutting off the water's flow; commercial fishermen
who rely on the river for their livelihoods; and the leader of a Native American tribe that's based
much of its culture on the salmon that used to thrive there.
Return of the River
a film about the largest dam removal project in the history of the United States. It is the story of a
river unleashed after a century of impoundment, and the extraordinary community effort to set it
free. What if you could wave a magic wand and restore an ecosystem? What if you could revive
a dying river? In a world of grim news about the environment, the return of the Elwha River is a
story to celebrate. If only it had been as easy as waving a wand.
Belo Monte, An Announcement of War (2012)
A film funded by the audience, from the Xingu River to the World." Threatened by the
construction of a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous Peoples of the
Xingu River Basin fight together to prevent by any means what they consider to the makings of a
terrible catastrophe with global consequences. Belo Monte, An Announcement Of War is an
Documentário sobre a maior obra de engenharia do país da atualidade, na qual depoimentos a
favor e contra Belo Monte apontam para um desastre do ponto de vista ambiental, econômico e
social. Belo Monte é uma usina hidrelétrica que o governo pretende instalar no coração da
Amazônia, na Volta Grande do rio Xingu na cidade de Altamira, Pará. O documentário “Belo
Monte, Anúncio De Uma Guerra” é um projeto independente e coletivo a respeito desta obra,
que foi filmado durante 3 expedições à região do rio Xingu. Trata-se de material riquíssimo sobre
os bastidores da mais polêmica obra planejada no Brasil, com imagens de alto impacto e
entrevistas com os principais envolvidos na obra, incluindo lideranças indígenas (como o Cacique
Raoni e Megaron), o Procurador da República (Dr. Felício Pontes), o Presidente da FUNAI (Márcio
Meira) e políticos locais a favor da construção da Usina.
A Film with Arundhati Roy
DAM/AGE traces writer Arundhati Roy's bold and controversial campaign against the Narmada
dam project in India, which will displace up to a million people.
Where Have All the Fish Gone?
an updated documentary, “Where Have All the Fish Gone?,” examines the impacts of
hydroelectric dams on the Mekong River.
In particular, the film shows construction of the controversial Xayaburi dam, in Laos.
Milwaukie's second environmental documentary film festival in the past year is set for Saturday,
Jan. 12, once again featuring a film that rallies support for a project in Clackamas County.
Greg Baartz-Bowman and Mark Gamba hope their film "Un-Dam It!" will spur action on the longstanding project to remove Kellogg Dam and restore Kellogg Creek as a passage for salmon.
Energy Independence for our Future
Sitka’s Blue Lake hydro expansion project has gotten a public relations makeover from a local
filmmaker.Hannah Guggenheim recently released a four-and-a-half minute documentary about
the project called “Energy Independence for our Future.” The film is narrated by former city
administrator John Stein.
Big Dam, Big Trouble (2008)
When a sleepy community in the Mary River Valley received an unexpected helicopter visit from
Premier Peter Beattie, they had no idea that their lives were about to change forever.
The Queensland government was going to build a Mega Dam - and nobody was going to stand in
Australia was in the midst of its worst drought in recorded history. Rivers were drying up,
livestock were dying, crop forecasts were slashed and Brisbane was running out of drinking
water. The valley and its residents had to be sacrificed. 77 square kilometres of rich farmland and
over 1000 properties would all be drowned. So would treasured endangered species and ancient
aboriginal totems such as the 350 million year old Dala or Queensland Lungfish.
Fort Peck Dam
Telling the story in one hour of the herculean effort it took to redirect the longest river in the U.S.
and construct the Fort Peck Dam was a challenge for filmmaker Scott Sterling.
The result, the Montana PBS documentary “Fort Peck Dam,” brings all the elements of this
fascinating story together with interviews with folks who were there.
A FIERCE GREEN FIRE: The Battle For a Living Planet
The first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism
spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. From halting dams in the Grand Canyon
to battling 20,000 tons of toxic waste at Love Canal; from Greenpeace saving the whales to Chico
Mendes and the rubbertappers saving the Amazon; from climate change to the promise of
transforming our civilization... the film tells vivid stories about people fighting – and succeeding –
against enormous odds.