The 2009 Klamath River Film series made its way upriver to Yreka Saturday with a featured showing of “Upstream Battle.” Produced by German filmmaker Ben?Kempas, the documentary chronicles the ongoing battle between the tribes and  Pacific Power over the issue of dam removal on the Klamath.
The film focuses primarily on the combined efforts of the Yurok, Hoopa, Klamath  and Karuk tribes to work towards the removal of four Klamath River Dams.   Though Kempas did explore a variety of perspectives of many different stakeholders along the river, including the farming and ranching communities of the Upper Basin and Pacific salmon trollers, the film focused on the ongoing clash between corporate culture and tribal culture.
The skillfully rendered documentary is shot throughout the Klamath Basin, as well as Portland, Scotland,  Omaha and points in between. 
Last weekend’s showing marked the end of the 2009 Klamath River Film Series.  The seven showings also included stops in Klamath,  Hoopa, Orleans, Ashland, Klamath Falls and Arcata.
Though only recently unveiled to local residents, the film has appeared at numerous international film festivals, first showing at the Munich film festival last year. Along the way, it won the Human Rights award at the Kosovo Film Festival, the Best Environmental Film award at the Czech Festival, and second place at the Alaska Film Festival. 
Director/producer Kempas attended the showing in Yreka and answered questions for the audience afterward. 
Speaking on the many choices he had to make in creating the film, Kempas said, “I focused on what was, to me, most interesting (about the Klamath River conflicts),” reflecting on the impossibility of thoroughly covering all sides of the issue in one film.
Kempas said he first became aware of the Klamath issue when a Scottish friend alerted him to the fact that representatives of the Klamath River Tribes were demonstrating against Scottish Power, the company that, until 2005, owned Pacific Power. (The company is now owned by Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb.).
Asked what drew him to the issue, Kempas said, “The issue is not just local; it is  global,” admitting that he knew absolutely nothing about Native Americans or the Klamath River prior to beginning. 
Richard Myers, a member of the Yurok Tribe, spoke about his participation in making the film and shared his thoughts on the issues surrounding the Klamath River. 
Myers spoke about his life on the river, his involvement with the Yurok Tribal Council and his work towards dam removal.   “Clean, cold water is all we are asking for,” said Myers, who noted that he is hopeful that the current Agreement in Principle will eventually end with dam removal.    
The Klamath Basin film tour was sponsored by the Klamath Riverkeeper. The organization will also be showing “River of Renewal,” another Klamath River documentary, made by filmmaker Carlos Bolado. The film will be shown in Yreka on May 22. For a full schedule for this film tour visit klamathriver.org.