Video/Audio Open Access

Between the floods and the emptiness (Entre a cheia e o vazio)

Kleppa, Lou-Ann; Novoa Garzon, Luis Fernando; Fiengo, Carlos; Rodriguez, Rodrigo; Dutra, João Marcos; da Cunha, Eliaquim; Stolerman, Paula; Moreira, Daniela; Level, Inaê; Venere, Mario; Machado, Altino

Mention, 2017-2018 WATERLAT-GOBACIT Short-video Competition (

This documentary starts from the position that the 2014 “historical flood” of the Madeira river increased the effects of the many “empty spaces” created during the construction of the hydroenergy plants Santo Antônio and Jirau. It also assumes that the flood opened new “empty spaces” of debate over the links between the flood and the hydroenergy plants installed on the Madeira river, given that the media, governments, and energy consortiums (Santo Antônio Energia [SAE] and Energia Sustentável do Brasil [ESBR]) treated it as a disaster without culprits, generating a consensus that the disaster would have been “natural”: a climatic phenomenon. The empty spaces created during the construction of the hydroenergy plants were the result of a licensing process that was completed despite the failures pointed by government regulators, the uprisings of the plants’ workers, the impacts on the river (on the channel, and on the water levels, speed and biochemical properties), fish mortality, banks landslides, the massive removal of riverine communities and their relocation in conditions incompatible with their traditional life worlds. During and after the flood the riverine communities affected by the disaster were turned into spectators: they had their homes and territories condemned as “risk areas”, had neither voice nor vote in the Reconstruction Plan, and there was no debate about the hydroenergy plants’ responsibility in increasing the impact of the flood. The documentary features interviews with riverine people and specialists willing to participate in a panel to develop new studies on the impact of the hydroenergy plants, and clips from a debate promoted by the Federal University of Roraima (UNIR) and the State of Roraima’s Federal Prosecutor (MPF-RO) with specialists to discuss the need of new studies supervised by an independent commission, aimed to make science work for the service of the public interest.

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