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THE MEMORY OF FISH - Artist Statement

"A good documentary, like a good argument, backs up a cogent opinion with facts,

analysis, and judgment. A great documentary, like a great essay, transcends the prosaic

and achieves the power of poetry." –Peter Keough, Boston Globe


Sachi Cunningham | Jennifer Galvin, Co-Directors

2016 | 54 minutes


We need many more river success stories. Communities across the US are struggling with the

realities of unhealthy rivers and depressed fish stocks, feeling the impacts of coastal degradation and climate change, and debating dam removal. Salmon populations are at risk in the Pacific Northwest, nonetheless salmon ranks among the top consumed fish in the US. Salmon need cool, clear water to swim in and spawn. Entire ecosystems rely on these fish—and so do we. The effects of water quality and human health extend beyond shores and across state lines. East to west, rivers connect us all.

But, can a river really be restored after a century of damming? What’s the secret to staying committed to a cause over a lifetime? And, how do you restore what you can’t remember? These were the North Star questions while making The Memory of Fish. Part fable, part biography, part nature film, the vision was to tell the comeback story of a wild river through a seminal character, a story that would play out like a good book and stay in your bones.

The Memory of Fish is a timeless cinematic portrait that helps viewers understand why saving rivers and keeping the salmon life cycle complete are important. It’s a story that connects river, forest, and ocean communities – coast to coast. Our aim is to have this film shared widely so that many people, and many more rivers, can benefit from this story. Audiences can look to the wisdom of the past to build knowledge of the future.

With The Memory of Fish, I wanted to create space to think about rivers and salmon, and our connection to them. As someone who has spent more time in oceans than in rivers, working on this film and spending time with Dick and Marie Goin was a tremendous honor. One of my greatest joys was knowing that Dick lived long enough to see the dams come down and the fish come home. The last time I saw him he gave me one of his fishing rods, which he said would teach me more than any camera could. Dick was always right about everything. But, I wish that he had lived to see the film too.


THE MEMORY OF FISH is streaming on-demand 24/7 now through March 31. Learn more and watch HERE.

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