Rock the Boat
Rock the Boat
Rock the Boat
Item#: RTB-954
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Running Time: 54 minutes
Grades 8-Adult
Scene Selection • Closed Captioned
A film by Thea Mercouffer


"Outlines the many social, legal, and environmental issues that contribute to a nuanced understanding of the decisions that affect the river. Scholarly audiences will appreciate its potential as a catalyst for the discussion of people and their responsibility to their environment. With this regard, Rock the Boat will supplement collections that support Urban Planning, Public Policy, Landscape Architecture, or Environmental Studies programs. Students will be challenged to think about individual and societal dependence upon and responsibility for water. Additionally, the research and planning processes depicted in Rock the Boat could be used as a template for student examination of a local waterway."
–Tammy Troup, Visual Resources Curator, The College of Wooster

“George Wolfe’s simple act of boating on the LA River becomes a political movement. This film tells the story with wit and aplomb, sheds light on the ridiculous, and reminds us that we all have the power to do what we know is right.”
– Wild & Scenic Film Festival

"Rock the Boat looks at the river’s past, with its years of neglect and mismanagement, and at its very real dream of a future with an optimistic heart and a realistic eye.”
– Richard Pearce, co-producer “Food Inc.”

“The film is amazing! It was refreshing to watch activism end with a positive outcome, not only for the community, but for our natural resources. “
–Alexis Oliar, Executive Director, Mountain Area Preservation

"A delightful, informative film. Rock the Boat offers a positive and inspiring story of a small group of committed people whose actions, playful and smart, are forcing the government to clean up and restore the Los Angeles River."
–John de Graaf, author, PBS documentary director.



People’s Choice Award, Wild & Scenic Film Festival

ISLA Earth Award, Catalina Film Festival

Best Feature Film, FILManthropy Film Festival



All prices include DVD and PPR

• Public Libraries - Circulation Only: $39
• K-12 Schools, Public Libraries & Nonprofits: $59
• Colleges, Government, & Businesses: $195
• Colleges, Government, & Businesses (with DSL): $495

Paris has the Seine, London has the Thames, and Los Angeles has the concreted 51 mile L.A. River. Rock the Boat is an entertaining look at the history and impact of the L.A. River – made famous in Hollywood movies – and how cities might reimagine and reclaim their once-natural resources to benefit urban areas today.

When a government agency decides that the derided waterway is not worthy of environmental protection, a biologist becomes a whistle blower, a writer trades pen for paddle, and together with others they change the course of history in a local battle with national significance.

For the past hundred years we've built our cities and roads, factories, dams and agricultural centers wherever we've wanted to, our engineering often triumphing over the natural lay of the land, more balanced design and even common sense. With climate change and an impending worldwide water crisis, we are now forced to examine the impact on nature of our urban lifestyle. Nowhere is this battle better illustrated than in Los Angeles – a dream city turned into nightmare sprawl. And nothing epitomizes man's efforts to reshape the face of the earth better than the L.A. River: used, abused and forgotten, it is now at the center of a major vision to transform this hermetically-sealed metropolis into a more sustainable model city for the 21st century.

With striking images of the L.A. River, insightful interviews and a soft spot for humor, Rock the Boat documents the intrepid fight to renew the river and the city itself, and affirms the power of committed individuals to jump-start that change.