by Associated Press
Too many documentarians use the medium to express their own outrage. In "River Ways," (Oct. 6 at 7pm) director Colin Stryker leaves the editorializing to his subjects, refusing to put a personal slant on the issue of whether or not the four dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington should be removed to restore endangered salmon runs. The result is a provocative outburst of dissatisfaction with a situation that cannot help one person without hurting another. The conflict between fishing and farming interests is both timely and timeless, harkening back to the cattle wars between the ranchers and farmers and looking ahead to the showdown between industry and environmentalists.
Stryker records the death rattle of American individualism in his interviews with these sons of the pioneers who can no longer make their home on the range. He also shows the continuing struggle of native Americans to hold onto the fishing rights promised them in treaties with the government. From Frank Sutterlict, a stoic fisherman caught between white racism and tribal law, to Ben Barstow, a wheat farmer who would be out of business were he not subsidized by his wife's parents, their voices tremble with anger and impotence as they fight their losing battles against a diminishing future.
You are unlikely to see a truer portrait of what America has been and what it is becoming.
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