by Dana Alston — September 27, 2017 — Willamette week --
River’s Last Chance is beautiful from the onset. Shane Anderson’s documentary opens with a montage of Northern California’s Eel River, speckled with salmon and wildlife. Wide shots of the river framed by forests and mountains are rendered through stunning cinematography.
The beauty of the river only makes the environmental damage at the center of the film more heartbreaking. A River’s Last Chance—Anderson’s latest collaboration with Portland-based environmental organization Pacific Rivers—tracks damage to the Eel. Three years ago, the river ran dry due to over-logging, over-fishing and a hydropower dam that disrupts salmon migration. One shot shows a salmon that’s reached the end of the river where it’s so shallow, the fish has to struggle to stay underwater.
It’s outrage-inducing, which is exactly Anderson’s goal. “We’re trying to build a storytelling campaign,” he tells WW. “We’re always trying to push for changes.”