BRT 3 | 2018

During the third Balkan Rivers Tour in 2018, we visited many of the places from the first tour, but this time in the opposite direction and in cooperation with fresh local groups of river defenders. With more than 20 big events it was logistically the most challenging tour so far and it demanded a crew of 13 to make everything possible.

Starting south in the Vjosa Valley, where we ended the first tour, we showed our full feature documentary film The Undamaged for the first time. The documentary was filmed during the first tour in 2016 and it felt right to go to all the same places, plus some new ones, to show it to the people whose battles and stories are told in the film, and this way show them respect and appreciation for their river protection efforts and to provide a boost of energy to their determination to keep their rivers free flowing.

One of our tour vans carried all the projection gear and our team (among other tasks) acted as the screening crew. We showed the film in each of the 6 countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia), with a screening in each capital city, and at least once in a village or beside a river threatened by dams. In this way BRT3 was also a proper film tour and with a solid audience and national television coverage in every county the film got major international exposure which later boosted its popularity on television, in film festivals and on online platforms.

With every stop we sought out ways to help the local river defenders. Most of them were well organized and super passionate, but had problems with gathering larger masses of people and especially had problems with getting their direct actions covered in larger local media. With a bunch of foreigners from all over the world in colorful kayaks (the BRT3 vans and convoy) local and national media jumped on the story.

For this reason, we strategically planned the protests and creative actions in direct connection with locals and tailored each action to support their specific river conservation efforts. Each action was unique, but all were effective. The creative actions in Tirana, Albania; Skopje, North Macedonia; and Ljubljana, Slovenia were loud and big, but the one in the Valbona Valley in Albania was for sure the most effective as we joined forces with locals and blocked construction workers from accessing the dam construction site.

To keep our spirits high amongst the hardships we experienced on local rivers and with river defenders, we teamed up with the organisers of the first kayak festival in the Balkans and spent 3 incredible days celebrating wild rivers in the stunning Tara River Canyon in Montenegro.

The international nature conservation NGOs Riverwatch and Euronatur were running a successful campaign called Save the Blue Heart of Europe and they organised the first European Rivers Days conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We gladly joined in the debates and mingled around with river conservationist from all around Europe.

The tour started in the south and had its grand finale in our home country’s capital city. We figured that our friends would also like to see the long-awaited film and we showed it in the sold-out Kino Šiška hall downtown Ljubljana, followed by a great concert and next day a flotilla on the Sava River which flowed into a solid protest in front of the Slovenian parliament. What a way to finish the biggest tour so far!



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