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Sierra Magazine

Sierra's November/December 2003
Let's Talk film selection
:
Drowned Out
(aka, by PBS, "The Dammed")
A film by Franny Armstrong

Discussion questions

What do you think about the quality of the film? Did it make a solid case? Was it fair to all parties in the conflict? Was it emotionally engaging? What did you like most about it? What were its weaknesses?

If you happened to see both the long and short versions of this film (the short version was shown on PBS in September and titled "The Dammed"), which did you find most effective? Why?

The filmmaker chose to use "We can't wish them away" as the subtitle. Why do you think she did so?

Whom do you admire most in this story?

What would you do about the Narmada dams if you were the Indian government?

What rights should the villagers have?

Compare the difficulties faced by India's tribal peoples trying to influence the government to those faced by citizens of the United States.

The film shows us what it calls the biggest nonviolent protests since Mahatma Ghandi's more than half a century ago. How effective were these recent actions? In the PBS version of this film ("The Dammed"), Arundhati Roy talks about the "failure" of the people opposing the dam. In what sense did they fail? Are there some ways in which they also succeeded?

What's the message for Western audiences? Discuss Arundhati Roy's assertion that "the war for the Narmada valley is not just some exotic tribal war. It's a war for the rivers and mountains and forest of the world." Do you agree with her argument that Drowned Out is a tale with important ramifications for people all over the world?

If you were asked to make an environmental film about a conflict near where you live, what story would you choose to tell?