Upstream Battle, a German Documentary playing at PIFF

Upstream Battle showing at the Portland International Film Festival is one of the few, the proud, the only German film to feature Oregon politics?! What? Our squabbles over a few dams along the Klamath river interest the Germans? What gives?

Gotta love the Germans. All that historical guilt running them in the right direction. When you’re unconscious of evil, you can commit evil acts and believe you are doing good. The German people seeing themselves portrayed as the bad guy in every popular entertainment from the Great War: it’s bound to repel everyday Germans from anything that reeks of wrong-doing. The green movement is on good footing in northern Europe.

It can be hard to suss out good vs evil. I can forgive people for feeling chosen to rid the world of evil. Isn’t that what European religions have preached for the last few hundred years – give or take a millennia. So what about the Native American religion that justifies killing a few hundred woodpeckers to scalp the head feathers and glue ’em on a headdress for a few ceremonial dances? Is the vanity of the Native American really at any great remove from the European? Or are we all just equally fallible people? Each and all with our unique tendencies to delusion and wishful-thinking? So how to sort right and wrong? Simple ethical decisions.

Since a corporation has the legal rights of a citizen, the grand old documents of our Union have enabled the corporation with some stomping power. Yeah, it walks all over the little people. Not you and me, specifically. All over the voiceless. All over the natural world. Even, as the Native Americans assert, the nature spirits present in the rivers, fish, birds, and plants.

The allocation of resources is the reality of politics: different individuals and groups accessing the natural resources of water, wind, mineral, and solar to serve the common good. Okay, the corporations providing us with electricity, food, clothing, and shelter: are they really serving the common good? Alright people, speak the truth. That’s democracy. Beyond the multi-million dollar campaigns and budgets of our federal employees, everyday people need to feel safe enough to speak their truth.

Let’s talk about how the Pacific Northwest sources its power. Hydropower is one of those friendly fuels, right? Damn. That’s what I thought too… Cough, cough. Ah, the regrettable realities that meet our scientific solutions to all things human, all things natural. Unfortunately, the stagnant pools above the dams became infested with a bacterial cocktail of algae blooms as a result of nitrate-rich runoff from industrial farms. This results in a shocking die-off of fish and the death of small animals drinking from the water. Top that off with the inability of wild salmon to reach their native spawning ground, and you have a strong case for removing all four dams along the Klamath. The film shows the forces at play. The people speak, they sing, they argue, they cry… yeah, people are politics. That’s all of us, every single pursuit of life, liberty, and property. Politics are for one and all.

Upstream Battle
Director: Ben Kempas
Sun Feb 15 7:30PM
Mon Feb 16 6:30PM
Regal Broadway Metroplex
1000 SW Broadway – Portland, OR 97205


One thought on “Upstream Battle, a German Documentary playing at PIFF

  1. Pingback: Upstream Battle, a German Documentary playing at PIFF | Portland News and Events

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