Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
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1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 Free

The Alaska Native Film Festival is an entire day of must-see films that relay crucial moments in Alaska Native history, humorous slices of life, and poignant searches for truth. This event focuses on new and recent films about Alaska Native people, most created by emerging Alaska Native filmmakers. In addition to the screenings, hear behind-the-scenes stories from filmmakers and learn about opportunities for Alaska filmmakers.

This event is a partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center and Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, with support from the Anchorage Museum, Anchorage International Film Festival and National Museum of the American Indian.


1 p.m.

Introduction to local cultural heritage film work and upcoming opportunities for filmmakers

  • Steven Alvarez - event host - for the Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Aron Crowell for the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center
  • Tony Sheppard for the Anchorage International Film Festival
  • Dawn Biddison for the National Museum of the American Indian Native American Film + Video Festival

1:45 p.m.

From Short Films to Features: Works by Rachel Naŋinaaq Edwardson and Andrew Okpeaha MacLean

2:45 p.m.

Early Talent: Works by Young Filmmakers

3:45 p.m.

Featured Films


Click film title to view summary:

Asveq / The Walrus Hunt

The story of eight Yup'ik and Iñupiaq high school youth as they create a traditional dance through the After School Program at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The film includes a performance of Asveq, a song and dance written by Stephen Blanchett fusing Iñupiaq melody and dance styles with Yup'ik lyrics. Directors/Producers: Stephen Blanchett and Frank Francis-Chythlook. Executive Producer: Steven Alvarez. 2005. 9 minutes.

The Athabascan Snowshoe Makers Residency

The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and the Alaska State Council on the Arts hosted a master artists' workshop at the Anchorage Museum to highlight a key implement of Arctic survival – the sinew-webbed snowshoe. Athabascan elders Butch Yaska, George Albert and Trimble Gilbert taught apprentices, school groups and museum visitors about the technology and artistry of snowshoes, as well as the importance of this endangered art form in Athabascan communities. Director/Editor: Brandon McElroy, Progressive Media Alaska. 2011. 8 minutes.

History of the Iñupiat: The Duck In, Hunger Knows No Law

The United States government attempted to regulate the traditional hunting rights of the Iñupiat in 1961. This is the story of the first major conflict between the Federal government and the Iñupiat people, which marked the beginning of the battle for land rights in northern Alaska. Director/Producer/Writer: Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson. Co-Director/Co-Producer: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Executive Producer Jana Pausauraq Harcharek. 2005. 24 minutes.

History of the Iñupiat: Project Chariot (preview)

In 1958, as the cold war arms race entered the nuclear age, the United States Atomic Energy Commission planned to detonate eight thermonuclear bombs less than 30 miles from the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America. This is the dramatic story of how "a group of scientists with nuclear weapons in their back pockets were faced down by a group of Eskimos with harpoons in their hands." Director: Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson. Producers: Rainey Nasugraq Hopson, Rachel Naninaaq Edwardson and David Selvarajah Vadiveloo. 2011. 11-minute preview.

Natchiliagniaqtuguk Aapagulu/Seal Hunting with Dad

Iñupiaq father Carl Kippi teaches his son Jordan to hunt seals on the frozen Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Producer: Edna A. Maclean. 2005. 11 minutes.

On the Ice (trailer)

In a taut drama that unfolds in Alaska's far north, three young men go seal hunting. Only two return. With their future in the balance, they are forced to explore the limits of friendship, honor and community. Fea¬turing breakout performances by Josiah Patkotak (Iñupiaq) and Frank Qutuq Irelan (Iñupiaq). Director/Screenwriter: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Producer: Cara Marcous. 2011. 2-minute trailer.

The Medicine of Nikolai

One of the films created during the 2011 Nikolai Film Workshop facilitated by Media Action and Atheneum School in partnership with Nikolai Village Council and Tanana Chiefs leader Nick Alexia Sr. Director: Dante Esai. 2011. 4 minutes.

My Motherhood

One of the films created during the 2011 Nikolai Film Workshop facilitated by Media Action and Atheneum School in partnership with Nikolai Village Council and Tanana Chiefs leader Nick Alexia Sr. Director: Joricha Thomas. 2011. 4 minutes.

The Way

Filmed, written and edited at the Alaska Native Heritage Center High School Program Summer Media Camp, new student filmmakers present a compelling story speaking to the issues they face as Native teens. Director: Kelly Gwynn. Assistant Director: Elaine Rock. 2011. 18 minutes.

Games of the North: Playing for Survival

Four Inuit athletes travel throughout Alaska competing in the ancestral games of strength. Acrobatic and explosive, these sports are vital for survival in the hostile Arctic. As waves of change sweep across their traditional lands, their role is stronger than ever. Director/Writer/Producer: Jonathon Stanton. Executive Producer: Steven Alvarez. 2010. 26 minutes.

Parlez-Vous Eyak?

An extinct Alaska Native language gets an unlikely chance at revival with the help and inspiration of a young man living halfway around the world. Writer/Director/Editor: Laura Bliss Spaan. 2010. 9 minutes.

Native Time

A traditional Inuit hunter from ages ago scours the barren landscape in search of food. He braves brutal weather, winds and famine, not to mention wet mukluks and sore feet. An expert of this harsh wilderness, he is prepared for absolutely everything … except this: A crosswalk in modern day Anchorage. A mind-bending and comic examination of culture, perception and time, this zero-dialogue adventure was conceived by and stars world-renowned Inuit-Yup'ik storyteller Cup'luaq (also known as Jack Dalton). Director/Writer: Sean Morris. Writer/Actor: Jack Dalton. 2009. 9 minutes.

Smokin' Fish (trailer)

Cory Mann gets hungry for smoked salmon and decides to spend the summer smoking fish at his family's fish camp in Alaska's backcountry. As he reconnects with his roots away from his hectic life in Juneau, he offers a look at Tlingit culture and history from his unique perspective. Directors: Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann. 2011. 2-minute trailer.

For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska

The inspiring story of Alaska Native people who, through non-violent social change, overcame prejudice, disadvantage and blatant bigotry to win justice for all Alaskans – a story that resonates today for Native people facing new challenges. A blend of documentary and drama with re-enactments, new interviews, and rare historic footage and photographs, this one-hour film traces the remarkable story of Alaska's civil rights movement in a series of victories for citizenship, voting rights, school desegregation and freedom from discrimination won over the course of the 20th century – one generation inspiring the next. Director/Editor: Phil Lucas. Producer/Writer: Jeffry Lloyd Silverman. Executive Producers: Byron Mallott and Steven Alvarez. 2009. 57 minutes.