Power Struggles

Meager funding, no-show interviewees, makeshift sound studiosóproducing independent political documentaries is an uphill battle. But thatís the kind of fight director Dawn Mikkelson likes.

In a scene from the film shot in northern Manitoba, a thousand miles from home, the director rides a boat near the South Indian Lake community in waters affected by the Churchill River Diversion with Cree member Carol Kobliski. Kobliski points out drowning trees and an eroding shoreline on her father's island. The water level fluctuates by several feet every few days, so islands are disappearing entirely, explains Kobilski, whose family home was burned to make way for the effects of hydropower dams. "If the cabin was still here, I'd probably be living here," she says, holding back tears.

In another scene, a young girl is seen in her dilapidated home, lingering by two large plastic garbage pails filled with clear water. Frank Dysart, the girl's father and owner of the home, explains that the community has no source for clean, running water. Houses like the one shown were supplied by Manitoba Hydro in exchange for those lost to the dams. "These are the ones that Hydro supplied?" asks Mikkelson, standing in front of the meager manufactured residence. "Yep," Dysart responds.

Not all of the Cree are critical of Manitoba Hydro, and though the film favors Cree who are against the dams, it also makes an effort to show a complicated problem complete with internecine disagreements. In a public building of the Nisichawaysihk Cree community, Chief Primrose discusses a possible partnership with Manitoba Hydro. "If we're going to sit and complain about what happened 30 years ago, certainly, the community is not going to go anywhere," he says.

For her part, Mikkelson brings the story back to the community she's part of, and Green Green Water serves as a reminder that everything--making toast, for instance--is political. "I use electricity willy-nilly," says Mikkelson, now contemplating unplugging her VCR because she doesn't need the clock. "Ultimately, I am the end user, and the reason these dams are being built."

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