Where the River Begins

A film by Takashi Sakurai,
Country: USA,
Duration: 13min,
Language: Iñupiaq,
SubtitlesEnglish,
Year: 2003

Aliitchak, an Iñupiak elder living in the Kobuk River village of Ambler, persists in narrating local history and folktales in her native language.  The film follows Aliitchak’s subsistence activities at summer fish camp and her day-to-day activities in her home village.  Where the River Begins explores the struggle of Kobuk River people to maintain their language and cultural identity in a rapidly changing world.
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A Way of Making Life Beautiful

A film by Katrin Simone-Sakurai,
Country: USA,
Duration: 18min,
LanguageYup’ik , English,
SubtitlesEnglish,
Year: 2007

The Yup’ik people have been beautifying everyday objects and tools for centuries. Today, as a result of globalization and mass media, artistic trends are changing rapidly. Many Yup’ik artists straddle the values of two cultures.  This film explores the question of what it means to be a Yup’ik artist today. 
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Strange and Sacred Noise

A film by Leonard Kamerling,
Country: USA,
Duration: 82min,
Language: English,
Subtitles: N/A,
Year: 2011

“What would it sound like if the wilderness could sing, and I could hear it singing…” asks Alaska’s preeminent composer, John Luther Adams, in Strange and Sacred Noise, a visual and aural exploration of his “sonic geography” of Alaska. Five renowned musicians travel to Alaska to perform Strange and Sacred Noise in the wilderness environment that inspired its creation. The film chronicles this rare performance of Adams’ monumental percussion cycle on the remote tundra of the Alaska Range over an Arctic summer night.
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In Our Own Image

A film by Leonard Kamerling,
Country: USA,
Duration: 30min,
Language: English,
Subtitles: N/A,
Year: 1999

In Our Own Image takes viewers into the world of seven accomplished Alaska Native doll-makers, where we learn first-hand about the traditional, spiritual, cultural, and financial realities of being a contemporary Alaska Native artist. 
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The Reindeer Thief

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 15min,
Language: English,
Subtitles: N/A,
Year: 1974

Lincoln Pelaasi is an elder from the village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island.  He tells a mythical story about a man who goes out in search of a reindeer thief. The ensuing encounter becomes a test of supernatural powers and human/animal transformation. Pelaasi’s story is called an ungipaghaq, a tale that has been passed down unchanged through generations and is believed to be based on truth. Like many St. Lawrence Island legends, this story is set in Siberia.
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Joe Sun

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 20min,
Language: Iñupiaq,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1975

Joe Sun, an Iñupiaq elder from the village of Shungnak, grew up moving among seasonal camps in the Kobuk River Valley region of Alaska.  He tells of the legendary Iñupiaq prophet, Maniilaq, who predicted that “people with a different language would come and live among the Iñupiaq, and from that point on, everything would be changed.  He even predicted that people would start traveling in the air.” Joe Suns talk is known as an uqaaqtuaq. Elders gave such talks to young people who came seeking information or advice.
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In Iirgu’s Time

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 20min,
Language: Siberian Yup’ik,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1974

As his two grandchildren listen, Samuel Iirgu, an elder from the village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, recounts events in the community from the time the first missionaries arrived. His story is known as an ungipamsuk or true historical narrative. Traditionally, a storyteller’s integrity was based on the accuracy of his ungipamsuk; exaggeration was considered a sign of weakness.  Iirgu describes how the missionaries succeeded in converting people and the problems that visiting people from Siberia caused the missionaries.

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At the Time of Whaling

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 40min,
Language: Siberian Yup’ik,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1974

“When our ancestors hunted a whale,” elder Lincoln Pelaasi from the village of Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, tells us, “They harpooned it right on each cheek. Attached to the harpoon was a walrus skin rope and at the end of each rope was a small bag of water.  If the whale went to the right, they shook the bag on that side and he would go to the left, turning away from the sound of the water. Those big whales, just like dogs they would steer them to the land. This is how it was done.” From the roof of a snow-covered house men with binoculars scan the ocean for signs of whales.  It is April and the Bowhead whales are beginning their summer migration to Arctic waters. For generations, St. Lawrence Island hunters have waited in this very same place for their arrival.  The hunters launch their skin boats under sail and soon an exuberant voice on the CB radio shouts the news of a strike. The boats power up their motors and join the others to help corral and tow the whale back to shore where the three-day task of butchering and distributing the meat begins.

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Ryan Matthews: Basically Me

A film by Leonard Kamerling,
Country: USA,
Duration: 18min,
Language: English,
Subtitles: N/A,
Year: 2014

Ryan Matthews is an accomplished artist with Asperger’s Syndrome. Since childhood, he has been perfecting the expression of his singular subject: TRAINS. Ryan talks about the evolution of his work, how art opened him to the colors of the world, and how it shaped his journey from isolation to a bright future expanding before him.
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