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A film shot and directed by John Gussman and produced by Jessica Plumb, about the largest dam removal project in history.
A film shot and directed by John Gussman and produced by Jessica Plumb, about the largest dam removal project in history.
167 backers pledged $12,188 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$12,188

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Dear friends,

As many of you know, we're producing a film about the removal of the Elwha River dams in Washington State, the largest dam removal project in American history.

The removal of the Elwha River dams is a pivotal story in the Pacific Northwest, and it has received extensive media coverage in recent months. With many people clambering for credit as cameras roll, it's important to look back and remember that the restoration of the river was not inevitable: it was the result of sustained advocacy over decades by a coalition of groups, including the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and environmental organizations. Early supporters of dam removal were told that the idea was "crazy". How did an idea move from "crazy", to broad agreement and celebration? This is a story about a river unleashed after a century of impoundment, and the extraordinary community effort to set it free.

Return of the River captures the tenacity of people and fish who would not give up on a river. It addresses environmental justice issues that resonate far beyond the Pacific Northwest. In a world of grim news about the environment, the return of the Elwha River is a rare success story. It is a story with global ramifications, exploring the complex relationship between people and the land they call home. 

Cinematographer/Director John Gussman and Producer/Editor Jessica Plumb both live on the Olympic Peninsula, and each have a deep connection to the land and people at the heart of this story. Gussman has documented the Elwha River story on a volunteer basis for years, and has collected an unrivaled archive of footage on the subject. John also has a long career as a professional still photographer, and his beautiful photographs of the Elwha valley feature in the rewards. Jessica Plumb has produced numerous films about people and their relationship to the environment. Her interest in dam issues began in China, where she witnessed the Three Gorges Dam in the final stage of construction.

We believe you'll come away inspired by this story. Return of the River is an invitation to change the world, starting close to home. 

Why we need your help:

Many documentary films are a labor of love, and this is no exception. Much of the work on this project to date has been done on a volunteer basis. You can help us get this story off a hard drive, and onto a big screen by supporting post-production costs. These funds will be used to refine the story and launch the editing phase of the film. The abundance of material in this project is also its challenge: it takes time and money to edit a film and get it through post-production.

We believe that this story is important to share with a broad audience, and we hope you will too.

Thank you for helping to tell the story of the Elwha River!

With our sincere gratitude,

John Gussman and Jessica Plumb

BE SURE TO WATCH THE VIDEO TRAILER ABOVE !!

www.elwhafilm.com  - VISIT OUR MAIN FILM WEBSITE

Please note that a tax-deductible contribution to the project can also be made through our non-profit fiscal sponsor, Northwest Film Forum, via our website. 

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Thanks for being part of this project! We'll send you updates on the film and put a thank-you on our website.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    You get to choose a professional photograph of the Elwha River for a screensaver image, and we'll thank you on our website.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    We'll send a signed DVD of the finished film when released, a screensaver image, and thank-you on our website.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    All of the above items, with a 8.5 x 11 signed photograph of your choice (or the same image on a computer mousepad) of the Elwha River.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    All of the above, plus special thanks in the film credits, on the big screen!

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Choose a fine art 12"x16" signed canvas photograph, ready to hang, plus special thanks in film credits.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Choose a fine art 12"x16" signed canvas photograph. In addition to special thanks in the film credits, you can choose to have a tree planted in your name, by us, on the Elwha River, or accompany the Director or Producer on a visit to the Elwha River. We'd like to meet you!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Choose a fine art 20"x30" signed canvas photograph. You can choose to have a tree planted in your name, or a visit to the river with us. We will list you as an associate producer of the film.

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Funding period

- (29 days)