10 days, 130 films: Anchorage International Film Festival coming to big screens across Anchorage this week

Friday, 01 December 2017, 02:12:12 PM. Animated films, documentaries, features and films made in Alaska will be shown at seven different theaters. Here are some highlights.

The Anchorage International Film Festival returns this year for its 17th installment, featuring over 130 films from 29 countries.

That includes animated films, documentaries and films made in Alaska.

Attending a film festival is different than going to see a blockbuster movie, festival director Rebecca Pottebaum said. At the festival, you can talk with the filmmakers during panel discussions and meet-and-greet events; there is an immediate opportunity to discuss the film at length.

"You just have a deeper cinematic experience because you get to give feedback of the film you just saw."

This year there will be four workshops catered to filmmakers, including ones focusing on aerial media, music in film and a special presentation by Slamdance Film Festival co-founder Dan Mirvish.

"It's a chance for filmmakers to talk to someone in the know about how to push their work," Pottebaum said. "We're trying to be a resource for filmmakers and people interested in filmmaking. (The festival) goes above and beyond being entertainment only."

It takes about three staff and 60 volunteers to run the film festival each year, who collectively put in more than 1,000 hours.

"It gets really crazy, but at the same time I really believe this is a necessary asset to our community and I want to see it thrive," Pottebaum said.

With films and workshops being hosted at seven locations across the city during the 10-day festival, here are some of the highlights. For a full list of all the films showing, visit anchoragefilmfestival.org/2017. – Zakiya McCummings


Among Wolves

USA, 87 minutes

Showing: 8:15 p.m. Monday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

Still struggling from the aftermath of the Bosnian War, a multi-ethnic biker club called The Wolves organizes charity for their small mountain town and defends a threatened herd of wild horses they first met on the frontline. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)

Arctic Superstar

Norway, directed by Simen Braathen, 72 minutes

Showing: 6 p.m. Saturday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

The indigenous Samí rapper Nils Rune Utsi — aka "SlinCraze" — dreams of being able to make a living making music, and maybe even becoming world famous like his hero, Eminem. The only problem is that less than 20,000 people in the world understand the endangered language he raps in. Q&A with Utsi will follow the screening. (1230 W. 27th Ave.)

Also in Anchorage: SlinCraze and Phillip Blanchett of Pamyua will discuss indigenous northern languages in popular music forms with Sami freestyle following. 6:30 p.m. Friday at Anchorage Museum (Free; anchoragemuseum.org). He'll also perform at an Arctic Hip-Hop Showcase at 10 p.m. Saturday at Koot's, along with Tayy Tarantino and Bishop Slice, from Fairbanks. ($8 at the door, $5 for festival passholders; koots.com).

ARCTIC SUPERSTAR (2016) – Official trailer from Indie Film on Vimeo.

Between Earth and Sky

USA, directed by Paul Allen, 80 minutes

Showing: 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, Alaska Experience Theatre

Part of a double bill with "Icy Bay Mega-Tsunami": Alaska, the last frontier of American expansion, has become the first frontier in climate change. "Between Earth and Sky" examines climate change through the impacts to Alaska Natives, receding glaciers and arctic soil. (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Prison Dogs

USA, 71 minutes

Showing: 4 p.m. Saturday, Alaska Experience Theatre

Incarcerated for murder and armed robbery, select New York inmates are tasked with raising puppies behind bars. In this film, three prisoners battle self-doubt, anger and regret in their attempt to transform dependent pups into service dogs for injured U.S. veterans. Emmy Award-winning director Geeta Gandbhir will attend the screening. (333 W. Fourth Ave.)


Grand Unified Theory

Canada, 101 minutes

Showing: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

Over the course of a weekend, the family of astrophysicist Albert James has a complete meltdown, setting in motion a raucous and hilarious series of events that mirror his radical theories of the behavior of the universe. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)

American Folk

USA, 100 minutes

Showing: 8:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

Two strangers, both folk musicians stranded in California, take a road trip to New York in the days after 9/11. This film is a story about the kindness of strangers and the power of music. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)

Fanny's Journey 

France, 94 minutes

Showing: 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Experience Theatre

A group of Jewish children flee Nazi-occupied France in this WWII drama inspired by a true story. In partnership with the Alaska Jewish Museum. (Screened with short film, "The Making of Fanny's Journey.") (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

What if It Works?

Australia, 95 minutes

Showing: 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Alaska Experience Theatre (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Adrian, an irrepressibly chirpy tech nerd, has OCD. Grace, a beautiful street artist, has multiple personality disorder. It's a love story that seems impossible. But what if it works? (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Made in Alaska

Attack of the Killer King Salmon

USA / Alaska, directed by Darlene Kawennano and Ron Johnson, 12 minutes

Showing: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Alaska Experience Theatre (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Part of a showcase of made-in-Alaska shorts: Out of the forbidden past, terror that waited 3,000 years rides the warming current from the once-frigid Arctic Ocean to the mighty rivers to spawn its insatiable thirst for blood … and REVENGE! (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers L-R: Samantha Lynn Heglin, Margaret Roberts and Sadie Coyle. Keep Talking will be screened Sunday, December 10 at the Alaska Experience Theater. (Photo by Sarah Harrington) Kodiak Alutiiq Dancers L-R: Samantha Lynn Heglin, Margaret Roberts and Sadie Coyle. Keep Talking will be screened Sunday, December 10 at the Alaska Experience Theater. (Photo by Sarah Harrington)

Keep Talking

USA / Alaska, directed by Karen Weinberg, 80 minutes

Showing: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, Alaska Experience Theatre

Four Alaska Native women learn to teach their endangered language, as only 41 fluent elders still speak Kodiak Alutiiq. Along the way, they battle historical trauma, politics and personal demons. (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Icy Bay Mega-Tsunami

USA / Alaska, directed by Bjorn Olsen, 17 minutes

Showing: 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, Alaska Experience Theatre

Oct. 17, 2015. Some 200 million metric tons of rock slid down the mountain in Taan Fjord, Icy Bay, Alaska, in a crash that must have been deafening. It hit the ocean, sending up a wave that peaked at nearly 600 feet high. No one noticed. (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Arctic Daughter: A Lifetime of Wilderness

USA/Alaska, directed by Jean Aspen and Tom Irons, 90 minutes

Showing: noon, Sunday, Dec. 10, Alaska Experience Theatre

Recorded at a log cabin in the Brooks Range of Alaska, this retrospective piece carries the viewer from an Alaska woman's childhood in the Arctic through her precarious youthful wanderings, and across six wild decades using historic footage, contemporary footage, vivid photographs and original music. (333 W. Fourth Ave.)

Animated films

Ghosts on The Wall Death Rope

Switzerland, directed by Danilo Neve, 4 minutes

Showing: 2 p.m. Saturday, E Street Theater

Part of a showcase of 12 animated shorts. Eddie, the grave digger, is haunted by the ghosts appearing on the walls in his home. The ghosts want revenge; Eddie didn't bury them well. So they tease, follow and scare him to death. (315 E St.)


Mexico / USA, directed by Ricardo Herrera, 8 minutes

Showing: 2 p.m. Saturday, E Street Theater

Part of a showcase of 12 animated shorts: Old, depressed and nearly blind, Rino is a one-of-a-kind rhinoceros living in a small rural town. Townspeople share their lives and space with Rino as the town's pet. He has everything, but still feels lonely, until a special incident changes his life forever. (315 E St.)

TRAILER: The Hunchback And The Swan from Dotty Kultys on Vimeo.

Hunchback and the Swan

United Kingdom, directed by Dotty Kultys, 10 minutes

Showing: Noon, Saturday, Dec. 9, Loussac Library

Part of a showcase of 12 family friendly films. The Hunchback has no friends in the village, but his friends are the animals of the forest. When he suddenly disappears, it's up to them to save the day. Narrated by the UK's First Storytelling Laureate, Taffy Thomas. (3600 Denali St.)

Shorts and short docs


USA, directed by Andi Behring, 17 minutes

Showing: 2 p.m. Friday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub (1230 W. 27th Ave.)

Part of the showcase "Shorts: Love and Pain." A comic tale of a small-town girl who moves to New York City and realizes just how different city living is. She's wide eyed about the high life of the big city — until she stumbles head first into the grip of its charming low-lifes. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)


USA, 16 minutes

Showing: noon, Saturday, E Street Theater; 3 p.m. Monday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at Alaska Experience Theatre

Part of a showcase of short documentaries. "Unwelcome" takes an unusual approach in covering the Syrian war by giving the microphone to a 6-year-old refugee boy and letting him narrate the film himself. Together with his siblings and parents, Menwar flees Syria, but they find a new continent that does not want them. Director Ida Theresa Myklebost will be in Anchorage for the screening.  (315 E St. and 333 W. Fourth Ave.)

5 Day Film Royale

USA / Alaska, 100 minutes

Showing: 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

The most raucous screening at AIFF, guaranteed. Participants were given five days to completely produce a film — writing, shooting, editing — everything, incorporating three prompts that are announced at the start of the competition. See which of the more-than-20 teams will win prizes and be a part of the decision-making yourself. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)


USA, directed by Alex Witkowicz, 10 minutes

Showing: 2 p.m. Friday, Bear Tooth Theatrepub

The world's best alligator rodeo takes place in the unsuspecting shadow of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. This film explores the reasons behind this bizarre annual roundup — the animals, the people who wrestle them — and will give you a new-found appreciation for what it's like to live life with all 10 of their fingers still attached. ($10, beartooththeatre.net; 1230 W. 27th Ave.)

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