Geneva Anderson digs into art

Oakland Director Brian Lilla’s “Patagonia Rising,” tells of looming disaster for Patagonia as Chile struggles to meet its energy needs, screens at DocFest this Thursday and Saturday

Deep in the heart of Patagonia, in Southern Chile, flow two of the world’s purest rivers, the Baker and Pascua. Fed by vast glacial systems, these free-flowing watersheds drive biodiversity in temperate rainforests, estuaries and marine ecosystems.   They also sustain Patagonia’s indigenous gauchos, proud and hearty folk who live simply off the land.  Patagonia and its inhabitants are the focus of Oakland filmmaker’s Brian Lilla’s new feature documentary Patagonia Rising which investigates a plan under evaluation by Chile at the time of filming to build five large hydroelectric dams on two of the world’s purest free flowing rivers in Patagonia, Chile, the Baker and Pascua Rivers.  Talking with residents of Patagonia, environmentalists, renewable energy experts and businessmen supporting the dams, the documentary aims to sort out this complex conflict over energy development in Chile.   In the vein of the thoughtful and largely successful Up the Yangtze,(Director Yung Chang, 2007) which explored life inside modernizing China at it prepared for the three gorges hydroelectric dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world,  Patagonia Rising tells a similarly epic story but feels much less monumental in scope and suffers greatly from a lack of cohesive editing and concrete information to bring the salient issues into sharp focus.  What the film does best is explore the dam’s likely collateral human damage for several Patagonians living in proximity to these rivers and to outline environmental and biodiversity concerns that teams are working presently to quantify.  Interspersed with director and cinematographer Brian Lilla’s lush and vast vistas of Patagonia’s rivers, glaciers, mountains and remote gaucho life, the film does raise global awareness about Patagonia but, once it’s got our attention, it doesn’t give the audience anything constructive to do with their concern.  The film begs for more of attention-grabbing snapshots of Patagonia’s unique beauty and for more facts and better organization.      

Details: Patagonia Rising screens Thursday, October 20 at 2:45 p.m. at the Shattuck Cinema; Saturday October 22 at 9:30 p.m. at the Roxie Cinema, Theatre A and Sunday, October 23

DocFest runs October 14 – 27, 2011 at the Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St. in San Francisco and Oct. 14-20 at the Shattuck Theatre, 2230 Shattuck Ave, in Berkeley.  Parties will be at CellSpace, 2050 Bryant @ 18th St. in San Francisco.

All tickets are $11. There is a $1.39 service charge for advance tickets, highly encouraged to ensure admission to these popular screenings. The DocFestPass, good for admission to all films at the festival, as well as the Opening and Closing Night Parties, plus the annual Roller Disco Costume Party, will be $160. The BerkeleyPass is good for all screenings at the Shattuck and is $60. The YouthPass is good for all screenings at the Festival and is $25 for those under 21.  The 5FilmVoucher is $50; the 10FilmVoucher is $90. Multiple people may use multiple vouchers to attend the same screening on a space available basis. Choose films in advance at to assure admittance to the films you want to see.  Advance tickets are available at 800-838-3006 or

October 19, 2011 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment