Skip to contentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Site Left NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site SearchSkip to FooterDownload Adobe Reader
One Theme, One Campus Water

Water Film

Glines Canyon Dam


Film Screening/Discussion


Wednesday, February 22, 2017
7:00 - 9:30 P.M.
Griffin Gate (Building 60/Student Center)
film runtime: 87 min.


Students and faculty are invited to attend a screening of a film DamNation, the award-winning water documentary that explores our shifting attitudes about dams and their impact on the life of our natural waterways. "Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and otherwild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature."
Following the screening, audience members will have the opportunity to engage in a conversation about the issues, sharing their disciplinary questions and answers and "listening to experts" from other disciplines. Finally, they will explore questions and issues in small, multi-disciplinary groups, challenging themselves to deepen their understanding through collaborative inquiry.
For any questions, contact the Joan Ahrens, Water Project Director.

About the Film

DamNation poster

DamNation shows how far things have moved and how quickly, from the assumption 50 years ago that dams were always a power for good, to the first successful attempt to remove a marginal dam 20 years ago on the Kennebec River. The film highlights other dam removal stories, including the Elwha and White Salmon Rivers in Washington, the Rogue River in Oregon, and the Penobscot River in Maine. 
Diverse interests across the country are coming together to remove obsolete dams and find more cost-effective options to meet power, shipping, irrigation and other needs, while helping to restore rivers, preserve tribal customs, recover fish stocks, revitalize waterfronts, improve recreational opportunities and render watersheds more resilient to climate change. 

Dam owners, impacted communities, and politicians are now reevaluating the usefulness of certain dams and often advocating for decommissioning and removal. Some call it a movement, others call it a generational shift in values. DamNation documents both — and the undeniable momentum behind river restoration that has begun to take hold in our country.


About the Filmmakers

Ben KnightDirector/Editor BEN KNIGHT is a self-taught photographer / filmmaker.  Knight jumped ship after a decade at a daily newspaper just before the industry began cutting back and rolled the dice with his friend Travis—starting a small production company called Felt Soul Media. Ben was raised in North Carolina, but has spent the past 17 years in Telluride, Colorado where he spends the majority of his time in a dimly lit room obsessing over how best to tell an obscure story. Felt Soul Media has a neatly organized pile of awards on display in a tiny closet in Ben’s office.


Travis RummelOver the past ten years Director / Producer TRAVIS RUMMEL has honed his filmmaking craft from the ground up. Partnering with Ben Knight in 2004, the two became known for their award-winning short films within the tiny genre of fly fishing. In 2007, Red Gold, their first feature documentary, was released to critical acclaim and helped create awareness of the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Firm believers in the power of film to effect positive change, Travis and Ben continue to gravitate towards environmental storytelling. Travis was born in New Jersey and received his B.A. from Colorado College. He lives with his wife Melissa in Denver, Colorado.

Matt StoeckerProducer/Underwater Photographer MATT STOECKER is a biologist and photographer focused on restoring rivers and wild fish populations through his company Stoecker Ecological. His early passion for trout fishing evolved into a deep love for the underwater world and, eventually, the desire to capture it on film and share with people above water. Matt has worked on more than 50 fish-passage projects, including the removal of several obsolete dams. He is on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Matilija Dam removal project and works as a river ecologist with the Marine Science Institute at U.C. Santa Barbara. Matt is also the director of Beyond Searsville Dam, a nonprofit coalition advocating the removal of Stanford University’s unnecessary and destructive Searsville Dam. In 2009, along with project partners, Matt received the Riparian Challenge Award from the American Fisheries Society for the removal of steelhead migration barriers on Carpinteria Creek.

Beda CalhounAssociate Producer BEDA CALHOUN is the founder of brick+mortar productions, a Colorado-based marketing and production company that plans and executes release campaigns in partnership with filmmakers and brands. For the past three years, Beda’s focus has been on DamNation, its distribution strategy and marketing — and spreading the message of the film to the largest audience possible.


The Origins of the Film

As a teenager, I watched in amazement as steelhead trout the size of my arm jumped five feet out of the water, soared head first into Stanford University’s Searsville Dam, then bounced off the concrete in defeat. For over a century this unneeded dam has blocked these magnificent sea-run fish from returning home to spawn in the creek I grew up beside. I recognized that first day the destructive power of a single dam over an entire watershed. Since that day, two decades ago, I’ve dedicated my life to restoring free-flowing rivers.

I’ve never witnessed another type of environmental restoration that works as quickly and effectively as removing a dam. Before our rivers were dammed, sand and silt eroded from mountains and traveled downstream to feed and protect our beaches, wetlands, and coastal communities. Salmon and steelhead swam millions of pounds of ocean nutrients back inland, feeding more than 140 different species from osprey to otters to grizzly bears and redwood trees. Dams across our country have severed this important link between land and sea. Fortunately, like unclogging a blocked artery, dam removal breathes new life into a region. The benefits are instantaneous, far reaching, and self-sustaining. 

Over the years, Yvon Chouinard and I have witnessed both the devastation caused by dams and the revival of wildlife, water quality and communities following their removal. Yvon for years has supported groups — including our coalition Beyond Searsville Dam — who work to take down dams and restore habitat for salmon and water quality for human beings. Our experience spurred a desire in us to share the transformative action of freeing a river. So, during a break at the 2011 Wild and Scenic Film Festival, with the storytelling power of film fresh in our minds and cold beers in hand, we committed to making DamNation

We thought making this film would be the best way to show the stunning beauty of a free flowing river, to experience the heartache of watching cultural sites be submerged under a reservoir, to feel the power of explosives blowing up a dam, and share in the joy experienced by those who have fought for decades to see their river run free for the first time. We prioritized familiar dam removal successes, removals we knew were about to happen (including the largest in U.S. history in Washington), and removals being planned or passionately advocated. It was important to us that the film also explore related issues, such as attempts to mitigate the impacts of dams with artificial fish hatcheries and the unfounded assertion that dams provide “green” energy, while in reality they are major emitters of greenhouse gases and limit the ability of ecosystems to absorb carbon. The importance of activism also needed to be told, from Ed Abbey’s inspirational novel The Monkey Wrench Gang to cracks painted by a real monkey wrencher on the dam that submerged Hetch Hetchy Valley. 

We asked Travis Rummel and Ben Knight, with Felt Soul Media, to help us capture these stories and share the healing effects of freeing a river on film. With our list of dams and issues in hand, Travis, Ben, and I traveled across the country from California to Maine, from Alaska to the deserts of the Southwest. We saw a nation struggling between the foundations of our past and alternatives for a different future. We saw hope. 

— filmmaker Matt Stoecker


Stoecker, Matt. "The Origins of the Film." DamNation Press Kit 

More On-Line

official DamNation website: (press kit, articles, bios, and interviews, and additional info) 

DamNation on IMDB:



Last Updated: 07/27/2017


Brendan Praniewicz
2018-19 One Theme / One Campus

  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District