In the past century, more than 45,000 large dams have been built in the name of progress. In Patagonia Rising, documentary filmmaker Brian Lilla makes a case against the already ratified 7 billion dollar project in Chile which will set up five dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers in order to generate electricity for northern cities such as Santiago. The water in this country was once owned by the government but is now in the hands of European investors who are eager to make even more money off this mammoth hydroelectric project.

Among the most outspoken critics of the plan are the local residents of the wilderness areas known as the Gauchos, the South American equivalent of cowboys. They treasure their independent lives where they raise their own crops and travel by horse since there are no roads. Their communication with others consists of talking on ham radios. But for these residents of Patagonia, the breathtaking beauty of the rivers is the source of their wealth.

Various environmental experts weigh in with their criticism of the damming of the Baker and Pascua Rivers: the project will displace longtime residents of the area; it will degrade water quality, cause floods; destroy the nutrients in the water; and have a devastating impact of the rest of the ecosystem. In addition, the lives of thousands of people will be disrupted by the proposed construction of high voltage transmission lines stretching along a 1,200 mile corridor from Patagonia to Santiago.

Anyone interested in the environmental and ecological issues facing all of us will want to see Patagonia Rising.

Special features on the DVD include photo gallery, director bio, resource guide