Power on the River: A Short Film

Aviva Imhof

In 2004, production began on a medium-sized dam on Brazil's Rio Doce, on the border between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. The project was built by CEMIG, the state energy company, and Vale do Rio Doce, a Brazilian multinational mining corporation. As often happens in such cases, the consortium devoted considerable resources to the public relations campaign that secured its construction, promising minimal negative impact and considerable benefits to the surrounding communities.

As the dam approached completion in the latter part of 2005, Anna Kongs and Eliot Gray Fisher, two film students, began conducting interviews and gathering video footage to document the true social and environmental consequences of the project. As the weeks went on, Anna and Eliot Gray came to see that despite the well-intentioned efforts of individuals working for the consortium, almost all of whom were brought in from the outside, there was no denying the irrevocable damage they were wreaking on the livelihood and psyche of the local population (and soon on the ecosystem of the region as well). Watch the film to get a feel for how even a small dam can affect local people and the river.

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