For Iranian Villagers, A Dam Uproots a Rural Way of Life

The second-place winner of the 2018 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest depicts the upheaval that comes to a village in northern Iran when construction of a hydroelectric dam forces the resettlement of the population.

2018 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest

Several years ago, residents of Roudbar village in northern Iran learned that the existence of their hamlet would be sacrificed to what the Iranian government deemed a higher good: the construction of a dam to produce electricity for the regional grid.

In their documentary film, “Stoppage Dam,” — the second-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest — videographers Yaser Talebi and Mitra Roohimanesh speak with villagers who lament their relocation to a barren settlement and the government’s inadequate compensation scheme, which doesn’t begin to cover the cost of building new homes. The Clourd Dam was completed recently; many of Roudbar’s 180 residents decided to move to cities, while those that have been relocated nearby struggle to continue farming and raising livestock.

“We should go up and take a home and inhale dust — no jobs, no living things?” asks one grandmother. “Now they tell us we should take an apartment and reach to the God in the sky?”

About the Filmmakers: Yaser Talebi, born in Sari in northern Iran, is an award-winning film director, screenwriter, editor, and documentarian. His projects, which focus on social and environmental issues, have been shown at film festivals worldwide, including in the United States, Germany, France, India, and Iraq, and broadcast on Iranian TV networks. Born in Tehran, Mitra Roohimanesh is a director, screenwriter, and producer of more than 20 documentary films. She graduated from film production school in Sweden, where she currently lives.

About the Contest: The Yale Environment 360 Video Contest honors the year’s best environmental films, with the aim of recognizing work that has not previously been widely seen. Entries for 2018 were received from six continents.