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, the Gauchos, the iconic South American cowboys who 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.
"Intelligent. Weighs the environmental and cultural impact of five massive hydroelectric dams proposed for Chile's Patagonia region....Awe-inspiring footage of spectacular lands at South America's southernmost tip introduce the gauchos, loggers and other residents whose ways of life have barely changed over centuries, particularly since no roads or power lines connect many ranches." - Dennis Harvey, Variety