Main content

Lost Rivers

Lost Rivers

Nearly every major city was built near the convergence of many rivers. As cities grew with the Industrial Revolution, these rivers became conduits for disease and pollution. The 19th-century solution was to bury them underground and merge them with the sewer systems. These rivers still run through today's metropolises, but they do so out of sight.

LOST RIVERS examines hidden waterways in cities around the world and introduces us to people dedicated to exploring and exposing them. In Montreal, urban explorer Danielle Plamondon and photographer Andrew Emond follow the stony underground tunnels that contain the Riviere Saint-Pierre. In Bresica, Italy, a group of urban explorers conduct popular, officially-sanctioned tours through the city's network of medieval rivers.

More and more municipal governments are recognizing the wisdom of these explorers and making their once-buried waterways more accessible. Drawing inspiration from Seoul, whose Cheonggyecheon River was opened to the public in the early 2000s after 40 years of being hidden beneath a highway, Yonkers, New York has committed itself to 'daylighting' its Saw Mill River, which has been buried under the city's downtown for the past 90 years. In London and Toronto, planners are rethinking the way they manage their rivers for environmental reasons, responding to structural problems that have to increasingly frequent flooding and sewer overflows.

As climate changes forces us to reconsider the relationship between the built environment and our natural resources, LOST RIVERS brings to life an aspect of urban ecology that has long been kept secret.

'Important as well as inspiring' -Science Magazine

'A fascinating look at the natural river systems that have long been buried and disrupted by urban development and what these waterways can do to make our cities more livable.' -Jason Anderson, Toronto Star

'Ultimately hopeful...LOST RIVERS reminds us of the value of the natural world, suggesting that that world is always just a few feet away, waiting to return.' -NOW Toronto

'Light on the didacticism we've tended to expect of environmentally conscious documentaries...the film gives a sense of what cities can do in order to reintegrate bodies of water into their landscapes, and into the public consciousness.' -Torontoist


Main credits

Bâcle, Caroline (Director)
Bâcle, Caroline (Screenwriter)
Soukup, Katarina (Producer)
Domingue, Alexandre (Cinematographer)
Goldberg, Howard (Film editor)
Wilson, John (Composer)

Other credits

Writer, Caroline Bâcle; director of photography, Alexandre Domingue; editor, Howard Goldberg; original music, John Wilson.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Canadian Studies
Closed Captioned
Environmental Film Festivals
Urban Planning and Design
Urban Studies


Lost Rivers; Rivers; Canada; Carolyn Bacle; drainers; urban exploration; ecology; Riviere Saint-Pierre; Montreal ; Brescia; Korea; Seoul; Cheonggyecheon River ; Yonkers; Saw Mill River; daylighting; industrial revolution; Toronto; London; ,"Lost Rivers",Icarus Films

Related Films

Dreaming of a Tree House

An exploration of the design and philosophy behind a 20 year-old experimental,…

Electric Signs

Explores the effects of new screen-based advertising sign systems on urban…

The Forgotten Space

A┬ápanoramic and essayistic portrait of the new global economy and a compelling…