"If they're sick, we're sick," says Merv George, paddling in his redwood canoe, gazing out over the Klamath River. "They" are the Pacific salmons. This majestic fish is a cornerstone of the cultures of the Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa, Native American tribes who have been living on the river’s shores “since the beginning of time” and have managed to keep their traditions alive until today. A hundred years ago, up to a million salmon would swim upstream each year. Today, only a few thousand return to the river. Four large hydroelectric dams cut off their path and turn the water into a toxic soup. But the tribes are ready to take on the big global energy players. For almost two years, director Ben Kempas closely followed key tribal members, utility managers, irrigators and commercial fishermen in their battle for a river: "We've been witnessing how stereotypes don't stand the test of time. Indigenous people turn out to be smart strategists. Managers in the energy corporation suddenly fear for their own existence. And we've seen some astonishing alliances between old enemies."
Nominated for the Talent Award of the Bavarian Film and Television Fund, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern
English/Original Title: Upstream Battle. German title: Stromaufwärts. Camera: Ben Kempas. Sound: Magdalena Hutter, Ward Hunt. Editing: Ben Kempas, Raimund Barthelmes. Production: Preview Production GbR. Producer: Joachim Schroeder. Length: 97 min. International Sales: noch in Verhandlung Distribution: noch in Verhandlung