Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alaska in Motion

Alaska in Motion: Alaska Film Archives at UAF

            Dirk Tordoff and Angela Schmidt gave a delightful tour of UAF’s film archives that are a collection of unforgettable footage from 60 mm film, just over 100 years old, on through 16 mm, 8 mm, VHS and Beta. All are being carefully converted to newer formats, and stored with original items in two vaults: one kept at 40 degrees/30% humidity, and the other kept at 50 degrees/30% humidity.

            Video clips included one entitled “Freedom Fighters” (put together by Angela), which showed 101 yr. old footage of a polar bear caught by rope at the side of a ship, trying to escape while his/her mother (I assume) was desperately trying to free him/her. The film portrayed the struggle well with accompanying music, and we literally cheered when the bear was released and the two escaped. Another was one I dubbed as “river jouring”, in which sled dogs running on shore were pulling a small boat alongside in the water. I had not seen anything like that before. Something else that was unusual was a clip of dogs pulling a plow, and another of dogs pulling a train cart. People have been quite creative with dogs: one clip showed some dogs pulling and more pushing a bike with a side car. A clip featuring Leonard Seppola was interesting to watch, as well as some bloopers by Joe Redington Sr. as he tried to put together a commercial in support of the Iditarod. (He kept a sense of humor through the many takes.) Finally, a parade in Nome showed all entries being pulled by sled dogs, which made for a very fast parade!

            This was a very entertaining and educational session. Archived films are easily searchable in UAF’s Goldmine, with some clips attached via link at the bottom of the film description pages.

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