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Blue Heart of Europe — An important documentary highlighting the devastating impact of dirty dams

Updated: Apr 30, 2018

Patagonia's newly-launched campaign aims to protect the last wild rivers of Europe and this documentary is a focal point of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign to protect the Balkan region from 3,000 proposed hydropower projects.

Local communities are coming together to protect their endangered rivers. Photograph: Andrew Burr

The last wild rivers of Europe are at risk. Photograph: Andrew Burr

What are the consequences of hydropower?

Hydropower dams were once considered a clean “renewable” energy source. The truth, however, is that "dirty dams" divert water from rivers leaving certain areas dry resulting in devastating effects on the ecosystem and contributing to global warming. This can include negative effects on a number of wildlife species, natural habitats, waterways, and human communities.

Is hydropower really a clean renewable source of energy? Many dams have had a devastating impact on the environment and contribute to global warming. Photograph: Andrew Burr

Dams can lead to areas becoming dried out, which has devastating effects on the ecosystem. Photograph: Andrew Burr

Blue Heart of Europe Campaign

The Balkans is a region in Europe rich in diverse cultures, languages, and history and home to the last wild rivers on the European continent — truly the Blue Heart of Europe.

The Balkans region is rich in culture. Photograph: Andrew Burr

The campaign aims to halt investments being made by international banks and to shed some light on the consequences of these dirty dams. The Balkan Peninsula between Slovenia and Albania is home to the last wild rivers in Europe where more than 3,000 proposed hydropower projects threaten to destroy the culture and ecology of this forgotten region.

Natural untouched beauty of the Balkan Peninsula is at risk. Photograph: Andrew Burr

The last of the undammed rivers in the Balkans. Photograph: Andrew Burr

If fierce local opposition fails, 20,000 kilometers of pristine sparkling creeks, raging tributaries, and swift, braided currents of the last undammed watersheds on the continent will be forever damaged by thousands of dams and diversions — at a time when dams are being decommissioned throughout much of the developed world.

Many communities will be affected by the proposed hydropower projects. Photograph: Andrew Burr

Local activists living along the shores of these rivers and European NGOs such as RiverWatch and EuroNatur are fighting against government corruption and foreign investment. Blue Heart documents the battle to protect Albania’s Vjosa River, the largest undammed river in Europe; the effort to save the endangered Balkan Lynx in Macedonia, and the months-long fight by women of Kruščica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are protesting day and night to save their community’s only source of drinking water.

Local activists unite against government corruption and foreign investment. Photograph: Andrew Burr

In Kruščica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the river is the community’s only source of drinking water. Photograph: Andrew Burr

“With the deluge of proposed hydropower dams and diversions in the Balkan peninsula we are looking at what could be irreversible environmental destruction, but there is very little awareness of this issue in Europe or globally,” states Ryan Gellert, general manager, EMEA, Patagonia. “ We hope that this film will bring international attention to the local communities fighting to protect the free-flowing rivers they rely on and educate people about why hydropower dams are an outdated, dirty technology.”

Created by Patagonia, in partnership with NGOs from across the Balkan region and throughout Europe, directed by Britton Caillouette (Farm League) and with music by Andrew Bird, the film is a powerful moment in the larger ongoing effort to raise global awareness for the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign. Blue Heart promises to educate, inspire, and spark discussion on this important issue affecting Europe and other parts of the world.

Photograph: Andrew Burr

Join Outdoor Chicks on May 28 at Cafe Bar Mustache, Herzog-Otto-Straße 8, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria for a screening of the film from 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM. Watch the trailer here.

Tickets are €5 or €10 (includes a donation to the campaign).

Registration to this event can be found here. Hope to see you there!

If you can't make it to the screening, you can still donate here to help protect Europe’s last wild rivers.

About Patagonia

Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor company based in Ventura, California. A Certified B Corp, Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. The company is recognized internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing $90 million to date in grants and in-kind donations.

About the director

Britton Caillouette has been making films in the outdoors for over a decade. A student of history with a keen eye for photography and a love for challenging production situations, he brings a unique style of visual storytelling and humanity to his stories. Britton directed his first documentary in war-torn West Africa while an undergraduate at Stanford University and has won awards for his work in both film and advertising including a Cannes Lion. He is represented by Farm League (previous Farm League films for Patagonia include The Fisherman’s Son and Unbroken Ground).


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