Patagonia has emerged as one of the most environmentally outspoken retail brands, due in large part to the vision of founder and conservationist Yvon Chouinard. Over the last few years the company has been spreading awareness about a range of critical issues, one being the negative impact of hydropower dams. Patagonia has explored this issue in documentaries such as “DamNation” and “Patagonia Rising.”
Patagonia’s latest film, “Blue Heart,” continues its mission, taking viewers deep into Europe’s Balkans where more than 3,000 hydropower dams are being planned or built. We had the opportunity to attend a local screening, which opened our eyes to this hot-button issue. The film takes viewers on a pensive walkthrough of the Balkans, heightened by a dramatic, original score from multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird.
The proposed projects in the Balkans, Patagonia says, would significantly alter the landscape and displace both citizens and wildlife.
“These dams could destroy the largest and last untamed river in Albania, drive the already threatened Danube salmon to extinction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, jeopardize the survival of the critically endangered Balkan lynx in Macedonia and displace communities across the region,” Chouinard stated.
According to Patagonia, 91 percent of these planned projects will produce below 10 megawatts of energy, which is not enough to justify such resource-intensive projects.
The film also exposes some of the hardships that locals have endured to protect their rivers, notably the women of Kruščica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who peacefully protested for almost a year while enduring physical violence from authorities.
For more information about the film, and to register for a local screening, click here.