In 2014 Fairbanks hosted the International Arctic Winter Games with athletes from around the circumpolar north. I curated the Alaska selection of films to showcase during AWG in collaboration with the Fairbanks Arts Association.
Schedule of Films screened at Arctic Winter Games included a special screening of Spirit of the Wind, which tells the semi-autobiographical story based upon the early life and rise to prominence of Native American dog musher George Attla, Jr. Attla was a leading star of the 1960s and 1970s in the sport of sprint dog sled racing. The general theme of the story centers around Attla’s rivalry with the other leading sprint competitors of the day, fellow Alaska Native Gareth Wright and Massachusetts musher Roland “Doc” Lombard, the preparations for an upcoming big race, and his first major race victory. Filmed in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1976, and released in 1979.
A special appearance of George Attla Jr. himself was part of the screening, during which time he reflected on his legacy, his current dog mushing programs, and the film.
Arctic Winter Games Film Festival and Local Performance Series
Monday, March 17- Friday, March 21
Pioneer Park Theater
Monday, March 17, 2014
1:00 Special Live Performance: Yukon Performing Arts Ensemble
1:30 Games of the Inua (Alaska)
Maya Salganek, Director. 19 minutes- An inside view of the World Eskimo Indian Olympics, guided by esteemed Alaska Native athlete, Carol Pickett. Played since time immemorial, we witness the challenge of these traditional sports, and the effort being made to pass the embedded knowledge of the games down to future generations.
2:00 New Gold for Alaska (Yukon)
Dennis Sawyer, Director. 50 minutes- Reports on the Third Arctic Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska, where teams from the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Arctic Quebec, and Alaska matched skills in indoor and outdoor sports on ice and snow and in pool and gymnasium, with Alaska winning most of the gold medals.
3:00 Finding Their Own Dance
Robert Prince, Director. 60 minutes- This hour-long documentary tells the story of the Alutiiq Natives in Alaska and their mission to rebuild their culture after Russian and American imperialism nearly destroyed it.
4:00 Native Time
Sean Morris, Director. 9 min- An Inuit hunter from ages ago scours the barren landscape in search of food. An expert of this harsh wilderness he is prepared for absolutely everything… except this: a crosswalk in modern day Anchorage, Alaska. Ready to hit the button?
Documenting our Land: Diinah Kat Geegirinkhi – i
Matthew Gilbert, Director. 22 min.- Matthew Gilbert foregoes his professional career and stalls it in order to take his aging Gwich’in grandfather upriver from Arctic Village to visit ancient trails and ancient camp sites and hear him tell stories of them.
4:30 Blue Bead
Written by and Starring Naaqtuuq Dommek. 12 min- Blue Bead/ Suŋauraq is a journey of an Alaskan Iñupiaq student who carves her own life. Using Alaska Native carving traditions as a means towards self-acceptance she discovers her own vision through mask making and begins to heal from loss.
In Our Own Image: Alaska Native Doll Makers and their Creations
Leondard Kamerling, Director. 20 minutes- In Our Own Image: Takes viewers into the world of seven accomplished Alaska Native doll makers,where we learn first-hand about the traditional, cultural and financial realities of being a contemporary Alaska Native artist. Originally produced as part of the UA Museum of the North’s special exhibit, “Not Just a Pretty Face.”
5:00 Unipkaat (Our Stories)
Stephen Blanchett and Anna Hoover, Directors. 30 min.
5:30 Band set-up & sound check
6:00 Special Live Performance: Sabe Flores w/ Travis Burrows & Gary Westcott
7:00 On the Ice (Feature)
Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, Director. 96 minutes- Two teenage boys who have grown up like brothers go about their lives in the comfortable claustrophobia of an isolated Alaskan town. Early one morning, on a seal hunt with another teenager, an argument between the three boys quickly escalates into a tragic accident. Bonded by their dark secret, the two best friends are forced to create one fabrication after another in order to survive. The shocked boys stumble through guilt-fueled days, avoiding the suspicions of their community as they weave a web of deceit. With their future in the balance, they are forced to explore the limits of friendship and honor.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
2:00 Yukon- Short Film Series
A selection of short films which highlight flora, fauna, research, culture in the Yukon. Contributed by AWG Yukon Contingent.
4:00 Fantastic Tundra Journey
A Russian film Contributed by AWG Yamal Contingent.
5:00 Tradition in Tune
Sarah Becher, Director. 17 minutes- This is an Athabascan Fiddle Association promotional film. It includes interviews, live performances, and dancing from the 30th Athabascan Fiddle Festival.
5:30 Introduction of Special Guest George Attla
6:00 Spirit of the Wind
George Attla, Director. 98 minutes – The movie is a semi-autobiographical story based upon the early life and rise to prominence of Native American dog musher George Attla, Jr. Attla was a leading star of the 1960s and 1970s in the sport of sprint dog sled racing. The general theme of the story centers around Attla’s rivalry with the other leading sprint competitors of the day, fellow Alaska Native Gareth Wright and Massachusetts musher Roland “Doc” Lombard, the preparations for an upcoming big race, and his first major race victory. Filmed in Fairbanks, Alaska.