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SXSW 2014—Day 5: DamNation; The Possibilities are Endless; Housebound; Beyond Clueless
From 'DamNation'

This week is the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, and we're lucky enough to have updates from the festival every day. You can read the first here, the second here, thethird here, and the fourth here.

DamNation, directed by Travis Rummel and Ben Knight
The Possibilities are Endless, directed by Edward Lovelace and James Hall
Housebound, directed by Gerard Johnstone
Beyond Clueless, directed by Charlie Lyne

After Monday, film screenings continue at SXSW, but the festival's focus definitely turns to music. I spent the day at "satellite" locations—theaters not in the downtown loop, often featuring niche films for slightly smaller audiences.

Not surprisingly, the quality varies a little. Two strong documentaries started the day on a high note, but the evening sessions were big disappointments.

Did you know there are over 75,000 dams over three feet high in the United States? I didn't, until I screened DamNation, an educational and provocative documentary about the history of dams and their environmental impact.

At first the film looks like it might turn into a standard taking sides/issue film, with proponents of dams touting the wonders of hydroelectric power and critics lamenting their effect on wildlife. Gradually, however, the film follows (and advocates) the rising movement to remove obsolete or inefficient dams. It makes a strong case that doing so is a public good, preserving the renewal of wildlife while having a minimal impact on energy creation. The film argues that energy created by the Condit Dam could be replaced by as little as three windmills.

Issue documentaries often forget that film is a visual medium, but this one doesn't. Ben Knight's photography is stunning. ...

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