Patagonia Rising. A Frontier Story of Water and Power

from Multimedia Library Collection:
Environmental Film Profiles (videos)

Lilla, Brian. Patagonia Rising. A Frontier Story of Water and Power. New York: First Run Features, 2011. HD, 85 min.

Deep in the heart of Patagonia, Chile flow two of the world’s purest rivers, the Baker and Pascua. Fed by vast glacial systems, these free-flowing watersheds drive biodiversity in temperate rainforests, estuaries and marine ecosystems. They are also the life source for Patagonia’s most tenacious residents. Gauchos, the iconic South American cowboys, endure relentless winds and long winters on remote ranches in these river valleys. Isolated and largely undeveloped Patagonia and its people are caught in a heated conflict surrounding a proposal to build five large hydroelectric dams on the Baker and Pascua Rivers. Promoted as “clean” energy, the project’s cultural and environmental impacts would forever alter the region. Alternatives exist. Clean energy experts are proving the viability of solar, wind and geothermal resources developed much closer to demand and infrastructure. Over the past century more than 45,000 large dams have redefined the course and health of the planet’s rivers with disastrous impacts that continue to unfold. Tracing the hydrologic cycle of the Baker from ice to ocean, Patagonia Rising brings voice to the frontier people caught in the crossfire of Chile’s 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. (Source: Official Film Website)

 © 2011 Journeyman Pictures.Trailer used with permission.

This film is available at the Rachel Carson Center Library (RCC, 4th floor, Leopoldstrasse 11a, 80802 Munich) for on-site viewing only. For more information, please contact

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Further readings: 
  • Cernea, M. M. "Poverty Risks from Population Displacement in Water Resources Development." Harvard Institute for International Development 355 (1990): 55.
  • Green, Pamela, et al. "Global Water Resources: Vulnerability from Climate Change and Population Growth." Science 289, no. 5477 (2000): 284–8.
  • McDonald-Wilmsen, Brooke, and Michael Webber. "Dams and Displacement: Raising the Standards and Broadening the Research Agenda." Water Alternatives 3, no. 2 (2010): 142.