IMAX releases BHS-made documentary about Elwha River dam removals

A film produced by Ballard High School’s filmmaking program about the Elwha River dam removal and its effect on the salmon population has been released as part of IMAX’s national In Focus program. Its release – available on IMAX’s and UN Environment’s websites – coincided with the United Nations’ World Environment Day.

BHS’s Digital Filmmaking Program was one of five “exemplary” programs chosen by the All American High School Film Festival in 2016 to receive a $5,000 grant from IMAX. They were asked to produce an eight-minute and four-minute documentary which would align with one of three sustainable development goals established by the UN in 2015: climate action, life below water, or life on land.

The film is titled On the Backs of Salmon, and tells the story of the ecosystem bounce-back following the removal of the Elwha River dams, which were built in 1911 and that had decimated the salmon population. The documentary features an interview with Russ Hepfer of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who describes the importance of salmon to not only the tribe, but the whole Olympic Peninsula ecosystem. “This place was created on the backs of salmon,” Hepfer says in the film.

Other documentaries in the release include The Air We Breathe by Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C., about the health dangers posed by ozone pollution; Beyond the River of Grass by University School of Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, about the Florida Everglades Restoration Project; Bee Conscious by Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, about the critical role of the honeybee in sustaining human life; and Generation Zero Explores: Drinking Water by Mythic Bridge Youth Filmmaking Workshops, New York City, about the history of New York City’s tap water in contrast to other areas in the U.S. where lack of access to clean water is a critical issue.

To view all five films, visit the IMAX website.

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